Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, May 30, 2022
On Saturday — the day before he departed for Uvalde, Tex. — President Biden told University of Delaware graduates: “In the face of such destructive forces, we have to stand stronger. We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.” He also warned of the “oldest and darkest forces in America” preaching hate and “preying on hopelessness and despair.”
Biden is renowned for his expressions of empathy. But such language feels increasingly inadequate and, frankly, counterproductive in the face of nonstop political outrage.
Now is the time for precise language. “Forces” are not the problem; one political movement encased within the Republican Party is. “Ultra-MAGA” ideas are not the problem; Republicans spouting anti-American ideas that threaten functional democracy are.
The White-grievance industry (right-wing media, politicians, pundits, think tanks) keeps its voters in a constant state of rage over the loss of a society in which far fewer women competed with men in the workplace, White power was largely unchallenged, and diversity was less pronounced. And it has persuaded millions of White Americans that they are victims of “elites” or the media or globalism or attacks on masculinity or … something.
It’s not hard to understand how we got here. Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, wrote recently in Time about the MAGA formula, ascendant after the United States’ election of its first Black president: “the stoking of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-Black sentiment while making nativist appeals to the Christian right.”
Our future as a tolerant, decent society ultimately may depend on White Christian communities’ recovering their moral equilibrium and support for American democracy, and rejecting the movement to turn churches into platforms for QAnon and white nationalism. But we cannot wait for an evangelical reformation.
Like other toxic political movements, the MAGA crusade flourishes thanks to the collaboration of cynics, true believers and cult followers. In turn, our democracy’s salvation depends on a broad-based coalition that rejects the MAGA crowd’s reactionary aims and myths of White victimhood.