Robert Hubbell blogs about the frightening new face of the GOP and an important reason for the surprising victory of reproductive rights forces in Kansas.

He writes:

The GOP is rapidly embracing autocracy and white Christian nationalism as its rallying cry. That rightward drift is anxiety-producing and creates the understandable urge to look away. We cannot do so. However painful or revolting it is to watch the descent of the GOP into madness and hate, if we hope to defeat the anti-democratic forces animating the Republican Party, we must be clear-eyed about the threat the party poses to American democracy.

We must be explicit in naming and describing the threat. We must identify and defeat every foot-solider and sympathizer who promotes or excuses tyranny and white nationalism. If we do so, we will preserve democracy. We can win. We will win. But only if we fight from a position firmly rooted in reality. From that vantage, let’s look at the GOP’s latest flirtations with white nationalism and despotism.

The influential and ultraconservative Conservative Political Action Conference is holding its latest meeting in Dallas, Texas. (Where else?) CPAC’s two keynote speakers are Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump. Both are wannabe dictators, though Orbán has made more progress towards that goal than Trump.

Orbán promotes an ugly brand of politics based on hate and racial superiority (for whites, of course). He has recently saidthat Hungarians “do not want to become peoples of mixed race,” causing one of his cabinet members to resign, saying Orbán’s remarks were “a pure Nazi speech worthy of Goebbels.” He blames much of the world’s troubles on George Soros—an attack line that is a dog-whistle for antisemites. Indeed, he went so far at the CPAC conference to claim that “a Christian politician cannot be racist” because . . . well, because they are Christian. And like the Nazis, Orbán has led a national crusade of discrimination against LGBTQ people.

In most of the world, an audience would recoil in horror at remarks that explicitly invoked the Nazi ideologies of antisemitism, racial superiority, and discrimination against LGBTQ people. Not at the CPAC convention in Texas. Orbán received multiple standing ovations as he delivered remarks that could have easily been delivered in Nazi Germany in 1935. See The Independent, Fresh from furor over ‘Nazi’ speech, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban welcomed by American conservatives.

Notably, no Republican politician has condemned Orbán’s remarks. Instead, they are lining up to speak at CPAC. Other speakers comfortable sharing the podium with a “Nazi-curious” dictator include Trump, Ted Cruz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, and Sean Hannity. No surprises there.

The despotic yearnings of CPAC are not an aberration. They have become part of the GOP DNA. Charles M. Blow addresses this trend in his column in the NYTimes on Thursday: Opinion | The Republican Party Is the Anti-Democracy Party. Blow notes that The Heritage Foundation (self-described as “the most influential conservative group in America) is actively promoting the idea that “America is not a democracy,” but a “republic.”

While that statement is a truism (there are no pure democracies in the world), The Heritage Foundation uses the term “republic” to mean “white nationalist patriarchy.” Strong words, I know, but here is what The Heritage Foundation wrote in 2020:

America is threatened by an egalitarianism that undermines the social, familial, religious, and economic distinctions and inequalities that undergird our political liberty.

That passage deserves re-reading. The Heritage Foundation claims that America is threatened by “egalitarianism.” What?! Egalitarianism is defined as “the doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.” So, the Heritage Foundation is against “equal rights and opportunities for all??

Yes, it is! The Heritage Foundation goes on to say that “inequalities undergird ourpolitical liberty.” Re-read the preceding phrase—twice! It is breathtaking. In that phrase, “our” can only refer to the privileged, white elite that has ruled America since its founding. For The Heritage Foundation, “our political liberty” is based on “inequality.” Unbelievable.

So, the two leading Republican advocacy groups are actively promoting a white, Christian nationalism that is antithetical to the declaration that created America: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . . .

If we can get past the grievance mentality that Trump manipulates to his advantage, the positions embraced by CPAC and The Heritage Foundation are repugnant to most Americans. We need only articulate that truth in a way that resonates with their inherent belief in the American promise of equality. If we can do that, we have a fighting chance to turn the GOP’s message of hate against its most ardent promoters. The victory in Kansas points the way. Read on!

Messaging in Kansas.

With the benefit of 48 hours hindsight, it is becoming clear that a critical component of the victory in Kansas was messaging (a fact noted by dozens of readers in Comments and emails today). Charlie Sykes does an excellent job of reviewing the commentary on this issue in his Morning Shots newsletter. From WaPo,

Abortion rights supporters used conservative-sounding language about government mandates and personal freedom in their pitch to voters, and made a point of reaching out to independents, Libertarians and moderate Republicans.

And check out this television ad that describes the anti-abortion effort as an attempt to impose “a strict government mandate” that was “a slippery slope that would put more of your individual rights at risk.”

Messaging wasn’t the only reason that reproductive choice won in Kansas on Tuesday, but it was undoubtedly one of the reasons that a majority of persuadable Independents and some Republicans voted “No” on the anti-choice measure.

It will not require an advertising genius to draft ads demonstrating that the ugly ideologies of CPAC and The Heritage Group are antithetical to America’s founding ideals.

We can do that. We did it. In Kansas.