Here's something weird: in the wake of Roe v Wade in the 1970s, the Southern Baptist Convention repeatedly passed resolutions affirming the right to abortion and rejecting government interference in the decision to bear a child to term:

Back then, white evangelicals were deeply suspicious of people who opposed abortion. Getting too worked up about the issue was a sign of crypto-papacy, and back then, white evangelicals *hated* Catholics:


The weirdest thing about this is that today, white evangelicals will vote for *anyone* who promise to end abortion - even a philandering, foul-mouthed, unprincipled habitual liar and likely atheist. They are single-issue voters - whose single issue is something that, in living memory, they actually opposed.


They'll vote for politicians like Scott Dejarlais, the GOP congressghoul from Tennessee who was re-elected three times. Dejarlais, an MD, impregnated one of his patients, then coerced her into getting an abortion. He also coerced his ex-wife into getting two abortions. But he reliably voted to ban abortion:

Dejarlais "received a 100% score by the National Right to Life Committee."


If you've seen the polling on abortion, you know that these single-issue voters are in a tiny and generally unimportant minority. Americans overwhelmingly support the right to get an abortion. And yet, here we are. Obviously, America is a nation founded on antimajoritarian principles, whose Constitution is designed to let rural, southern gentry steer the nation, but is it really *that* antimajoritarian?


Not really. The GOP is a coalition of single-issue voters, and substantial numbers of the GOP base are actually pretty cool with abortion - they're pursuing *other* single issues, and they're willing to give up abortion in exchange for progress on their pet issues.


Another critical bloc in the GOP coalition is people with low-tax brain-worms, including many self-described "libertarians," who will vote for unlimited authoritarianism and state intrusion into the most private realm of (other) people's lives, provided that they save at least 25 cents on their tax bill as a result:


These two blocs, along with racists, homophobes and transphobes, provide the bulk for the master strategists of the GOP, people who aren't merely elitists, but actual *elites*. By definition, elite politics can't win majorities on its own, because elites are always in the minority - that's what "elite" means.


The cruelty isn't the point. The cruelty is a means to an end. The cruelty is how you mobilize useful idiots to turn out to the polls and vote for the vast expansion of the wealth of a tiny number of people. The cruelty is how you get the turkeys to vote for Christmas:


@pluralistic This is such a mindblowing observation: Ultimately, politics is about gaining and keeping in power. Bigotry is no end in itself, it is just a means by elites to control an allegiance of believers.

@olav @pluralistic

Mindblowing perhaps, but certainly not new. Ever read Machiavelli?

There are two kinds of leaders: those who set a goal and convince others to follow them towards it and those who figure out where some crowd wants to go and then get in front yelling, "Follow me!"

And, all too often, those crowds want cruelty and feel hate…

The 2nd kind of leader are called 'Populists' for a reason. The history of the Roman Republic and it's turn towards Empire is instructive.

@olav @pluralistic

The thing about Populism is, it works as an avenue to power whether your own desires align with the crowd or not – because the crowd believes what they want to believe.

The downside of populism is, eventually the crowd turns against you once you've exhausted the levels of cruelty you can apply to appease them and still remain in power.

The Nazis knew this and destroyed their own support network once they had locked in power. Look up, "Night of the Long Knives."


@olav @pluralistic

Additional note: Above, by 'locked in power', I mean the Nazis reached a deal with the existing elites that let them do what they wanted. But to make that deal work the Brownshirts had to go.

And that's the part the red-hatted crowd doesn't understand. Because, for every Trump there is a McConnell.

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