Thomas Zimmer: One-Party Theocratic Authoritarian Takeover is a Real RiskHistorians in the News
tags: fascism, White Supremacy, Theocracy
I’m one of those people who likes a view from 30,000 feet. I want to know how we got to this moment in history and where we might be heading. To that end, I got in touch with Thomas Zimmer. He’s a professor of history at Georgetown University. He pays particular attention to political developments in the United States since the 1960s. We were in sours moods, so that’s where we started.
John Stoehr: Let's start with our moods. We're both today feeling pretty pessimistic. I have my reasons, but what are yours?
Thomas Zimmer: There was always going to be a danger that too many people would look at Joe Biden winning the 2020 election and conclude that things were fine, the system worked, Trump was just an accident, an aberration. But things are not fine.
Voting Donald Trump out was never going to be enough. When Biden took office, it was clear that unless the system was fundamentally democratized, we would soon reach the point where it would become impossible to stop America’s slide into authoritarianism through elections.
2021 is almost over – and the system has not been democratized in the slightest. The Republican Party is more determined than ever to entrench white Christian male dominance by whatever means.
JS: You might have felt similarly, but I was much more optimistic at the beginning of this year when it seemed the Democrats could effect big changes legislatively. But now, even if the Democrats enact the president’s proposed Build Back Better Act, I'm not confident voters will care. I was sure fascists could be bought. Not so sure now.
TZ: I think the idea that Democrats could get the support of white conservative voters by focusing on governing well, by emphasizing “pocketbook issues,” underestimates the depth of the ideological struggle that we are witnessing.
Battle lines have been drawn: The American right has decided Democrats are not just a political opponent with whom one might agree on some things and disagree on others, but a fundamentally “Un-American” faction that pursues a fundamentally illegitimate political project of turning the country into something it must never become – from a nation of and for white Christians, first and foremost, to a land of multiracial pluralism.
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