It feels to me like we’re finally witnessing the last gasp of Reagan-era movement conservatism. By all odds it should have died a couple of years ago, and it would have if not for a couple of freak accidents that handed the election to Donald Trump and allowed the Republican Party to go on one final, epic bender of bigotry and bitterness. But it finally came to an end in November when they suffered a historic loss in the midterm elections—and they know it. You can almost feel the panic in the air. Trump wants to shut down the government over his border wall. Red states are enacting fuck-you laws stripping power from incoming Democratic governors. A right-wing judge in Texas has declared Obamacare unconstitutional. And every Republican in Congress is hiding in their office with their fingers in their ears pretending not to hear the hammer blows of a special prosecutor who has their president in his crosshairs.
These are the final temper tantrums of a political movement that lasted 38 years—which isn’t bad, really. The New Deal consensus only lasted a little longer than that. But it finally imploded because, in the immortal words of Sen. Lindsey Graham six years ago, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” He was right, and the long term has finally come.
But even with Democrats in control of the House, Republicans are hardly giving up without a fight. Trump is a cornered rat and will cause any chaos he can if he thinks it will save his skin. Mitch McConnell is going to keep confirming conservative judges until the day he’s hauled out of his office with a backhoe. Fox News will grow successively more panicked until the pixels start to melt on TV screens around he country. Wilbur Ross will work feverishly to skew the 2020 census, providing Republicans with one last gift from the grave.
This means that the next two years are going to be even more vicious than the last two. “Power concedes nothing without a demand,” Frederick Douglass told us once, and that’s just as true now as it was before the Civil War. Conservatives are going to concede nothing that progressives don’t force from their cold, grasping hands. That means we keep fighting: harder, smarter—and, yes—more ruthlessly than ever.
As a writer for Mother Jones for the past decade, I’m part of that fight. We’re all part of that fight. I won’t pretend I’m not tired as hell these days, and if you’re tired too I don’t blame you. But if I can keep fighting past the damn cancer drugs, so can you. This is why, every few months, I ask you for a contribution to keep our doors open and to keep this blog on the air.
But here’s the good news: right now the next $50,000 we raise will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. That’s why I’m asking for a donation tonight, not next week. If you contribute $10, it’s worth $20 to us. If you contribute $100, it’s worth $200 to us. You get the picture.
And if you win the lottery this weekend? You know what to do.