The GOPs Disconnect with Reality & Its Harms

Part I: The Modern GOP

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

If youโ€™ve been reading this newsletter for long enough, youโ€™ve heard me lament the GOP, their voter suppression, their refusal to work together to pass legislation and their generally undemocratic notions of government.

But I wanted to spend some time unpacking the Republican Party because there is much that makes up a political party. Today is the first of a series of articles unpacking the modern GOP, what they stand for, the threat that they pose to democracy, and the solutions we have at hand.

My goal is to encourage love and empathy for voters across the aisle, while also recognizing the clear and present danger of the current GOP to our democracy and our country's future success.

For those that know me, you know that I grew up in Dallas in a conservative household. My closest family & friends are Republicans. I love my Republican friends. What Iโ€™m less keen on are the elected officials and the institution who have tilted authoritarian and antidemocratic who are undermining our democracy in the clear light of day. And propaganda machines (ahem Fox News) that enable their bad behavior. So whenever I refer to the GOP, I am talking about elected officials, not Republican voters.

And that is the main issue at hand. The elected officials are continually out of step with the American people and the voters they once sought.

Who is the Modern Republican Party?

Can the Republican Party Rebrand Itself?

So letโ€™s go on a journey through recent history. This year, Republican-run state legislatures have passed bills to suppress voting rights for all (but mostly Black and brown Americans), ban trans children from participating in sports, ban abortion before a woman even knows sheโ€™s pregnant, allow students to film and harass professors for views they donโ€™t like, ban doctors from providing healthcare to trans patients, and many other awful things.

These actions on the local or state level have profound impacts on the most vulnerable in our community. The current focus on trans children is a distraction technique and fear tactic. It is designed to rile up the base of QAnon...excuse me..Republican voters, who have likely never knowingly met a trans person, without actually solving the real issues that their constituents face. If elected officials can keep their base scared of a non-existent threat then maybe the American people wonโ€™t see that they havenโ€™t actually done anything on the policies that their constituents care about.

And boy do they care! The American people overwhelmingly support legislation that is deemed progressive in the media. Yes, even Republicans.

Name an issue and I can point you to a poll that shows over 50% support in the country. Gun reform? What about healthcare? You want to talk about corporate taxes? Well, even 52% of Republicans want to see corporations taxed higher. (yes, Democrats need to lean into this fight)

Letโ€™s not get started on the climate crisis! Even coal country West Virginians want to reap the rewards of future clean energy jobs.

In an era where Fox News hosts continually lie to their viewers, itโ€™s pretty extraordinary to see this level of support for issues that the media continually both-sides. And thatโ€™s the point. Republicans know that they do not have the American people's support on the larger issues of today so they focus their attention on fear tactics to keep their loyal voters voting and the average American in the dark.

The Fallacy of Inaction

But the most harmful thing Republicans have done is to do nothing at all. Because while the GOP is fighting โ€œcancel culture,โ€ โ€œwoke corporationsโ€ (oxymoron much?), and children, they are not focused on passing legislation to help their constituents. How does a bill banning trans children in sports that took months to go through the state congress help a farmer in Iowa? It doesnโ€™t and the time they wasted by fighting a non-existent problem (no really) means that they will not focus on implementing policies that help their constituents.

โ€œOne sign of how broken this system is: even when Republicans held both houses of Congress and the White House in the first two years of President Trumpโ€™s administration, they passed almost no bills that addressed problems even they claimed to care aboutโ€ - Dan Rather

The Texas legislature is a prime example of this. Texas still has not fixed its power grid. How many more Texans will die the next time (and there will be a next time) a horrible storm rolls in? Instead, they are targeting womenโ€™s rights, increasing the availability of guns, banning the constitutionally recognized right to protest, and criminalizing poverty. Here is an actual proud tweet from Texas governor, Greg Abbott.

Despite his smugness, what I actually read from this tweet is:

  • Defunding & villifying communities who want to invest in themselves & community programs
  • An elected body of mostly men interfering in a womanโ€™s personal, medical decisions
  • Invalidating education without a real solution or alternative
  • Criminalizing poverty (why do you think people have to live on the streets? Itโ€™s not because they want to)
  • Assaulting our constitution by banning the right of free speech (yeah I said it, protests are free speech, a multi-million dollar book deal is not)

Awareness is the Start to a Solution

Now it can all feel pretty helpless to watch these state legislatures bulldoze through our civil liberties and empower the worst actors, but there is something that we can do individually.

First, is always to call your elected officials. It might seem fruitless, but Republicans are doing it all the time! If you care about an issue, your members of Congress should know about it. Congressional staffers tally up the calls they get and it does actually help inform their voting decisions. I promise you itโ€™s much easier than you think. I did it from my bed the other day! For a quick & easy guide, check out Indivisibleโ€™s Local Advocacy advice.

For those that say, but my Senator is a Cancun-vacationing troll, I say do everything you can to kick that guy out. And the easiest way to do that is by talking. Last week, I wrote about Deep Canvassing. Another tactic is relational organizing where you talk with your friends and family about the issues at hand and urge them to take action and vote. I guarantee you know someone who has not voted or doesnโ€™t follow the issues closely. Having personal, in-depth conversations with friends helps to broaden their perspective on personal issues that they also care about. The biggest divide is a lack of awareness of whatโ€™s going on. If we can overcome the awareness gap, we can convince more people that Democrats are on the side of popular legislation.

Tune in for more analysis on the current GOP in future weeks! Next up, unpacking the Big Lie and its ongoing threat to our democracy.

๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.

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