What I’m feeling for the GOP is a kind of disinterested sympathy, punctuated with schadenfreude, the disinterest arising from never having been a Republican, the sympathy from the GOP identification of a plurality of my close friends – uniformly horrified by what is happening – and the schadenfreude from the abrupt collapse of three-plus decades of pharisaical social conservatism. Turns out that eventually enough of the electorate whose resentment you’ve been stoking figures out that it’s a waste of time and fastens on to something else, something that matches their actual resentments a lot more closely.
What happens next, and what to do? I suggest that the comforting American monomyth about great national trials producing great leaders may be disproved by near-future events. Even the most strenuous attempt at imposing an ex post facto narrative will find no analog to (the wartime) FDR or Lincoln or Washington in what Strauss and Howe predicted as the “Crisis of 2020,” that being the turmoil we began experiencing in 2008, which seems to have hit an inflection point around 2011 and is likely to tip into complete global chaos sometime in the next 2-5 years.
As for this year, it’s easy to predict that neither of the two candidates who did best yesterday will allow a loss in November, even by an apparently wide margin, to go uncontested. Their methods of contesting it and their accusations of conspiracy will be differently styled, of course, but semantically identical. The boundaries between geographically adjacent jurisdictions controlled by opposing sets of supporters may get pretty lively.
Longer-term, expect and plan for failure: institutional collapse, attempts at secession, show trials/purges, interfamilial betrayals, you name it. Nihilism ascendant, exactly as described by Gurri. All in combination with national-security “negative risk events,” as we say in project management, far deadlier than 9/11.
As always, however, “I do not bid you despair … but to ponder the truth in these words.” There are those who will respond by going into hiding. I vociferously disagree and counsel the exact opposite: greater engagement; superlative commitment to your country and its civilization, even if your country is divided against itself and its civilization is gravely attenuated by self-doubt; deliberate acquisition and cultivation of skills tailored toward the common defense, post-traumatic recovery – and not to overlook the obvious, peacemaking.
FDR et al are looking at you out of a mirror.