Why Republican Voters Will Never Be Satisfied
Republicans have set themselves up for a perpetual cycle of outrage and despair, no matter how many elections they win
It seems that despite the glorious reign of Emperor Trump The First of House MAGA and his defeat of Barack The Wicked, many conservatives are still deeply unhappy with how things are going for them. They say they’re disrespected, maligned, ignored, and sidelined from post-industrial booms across the world and in major urban hubs at home. They also add that far from being bigots and racists, they’re in fact the ones being cast as pariahs and relentlessly discriminated against.
All this seems paradoxical to put it bluntly. Republicans control all three branches of government and the majority of governorships, and their political opposition has been bullied into relative submission as the media continues to define it using primarily GOP-approved talking points and strawmen. So what exactly do their voters have to feel so angry about and why is the party that dominates, well, everything, acting like the embattled underdog? Because in a way, they are.
By far the most common themes for Republican voters are nostalgia and conspiracy theories. In a nutshell, they want to turn back the clock 60 years to when they felt ascendant and could get away with whatever behavior they pleased because society deemed it acceptable. There was no such thing as global competition or corporate consolidation on a massive scale, and automation was a staple of science fiction, not an everyday job-stealing reality. But unless they can go back in time, un-invent computing or the internet, then find an immortality serum, they’re picking a fight they simply cannot win. Hence they turn to conspiracy theories to explain this failure.
It’s an inevitability that new ideas and technologies emerge, older generations retire and die, and younger generations with new ideas take over, changing cultures and demographics in the process. Trying to stop it is like battling entropy. It doesn’t work in physics and it won’t work with humans. Change may take centuries and happen in fits, occasionally backsliding under heavy resistance, but it will happen. Instead of embracing that change and working with future generations to leave them a better world, or at least accepting it, today’s elders are fighting to turn back the clock and in the process, legally and financially handicapping their children and grandchildren.
On its own, this would be bad enough, but the right-wing media ecosystem makes it much worse by constantly coming up with scapegoats and conspiracy theories for middle-aged and senior citizens, siccing them on their own families and friends while casting the normal growing pains of a nation at an economic and cultural crossroads as malicious plots against them. As a famous comment about Fox News so eloquently put it…
They were enthralled by Fox News, had it on day and night, whenever they were awake, and it infected them with paranoia, anger and most of all, fear. Visits were consumed with lectures about the latest conspiracy theory about nefarious plots by the Clintons, Obamas, minorities, poor, or whoever else was allegedly hell-bent on destroying their way of life that day. When my grandfather died, it took hours of searching to find where he’d hidden all of his valuables and guns — Obama, you see, was coming to take them at any moment. He lived in a constant state of dread.
This constant sense of fear and anger didn’t die with Trump’s election because for all his bluster, he has proven blatantly incompetent at his new job, and as an investigation into his hideously corrupt dealings with foreign governments and aspiring domestic oligarchs keeps gaining steam, all that rage was emptied into a new set of conspiracies. Meanwhile, the world keeps changing because time hasn’t stopped and our culture and ideas haven’t been encased in entropy-proof amber, seemingly giving credence to the klaxons rang by aging populist pundit. They cry that the forces of evil are still out to get Real Red Blooded Americans™ so they can do horrible things to the country they love just for the sheer hell of it.
This culture of fear mongering been a staple of lucrative right-wing graft for the last half century and has no incentive to change. But its side-effect is the perpetual furious paranoia of the right for whom the sun will never shine again because another boogeyman is always around the corner. No wonder so many Republicans feel disrespected, sidelined, and miserable. With exasperated salesmen of fear and outrage bellowing that exact message in their ear all day long, pitting them against friends and loved ones trying to rebuff constant attacks quickly cast as more evidence of evil deeds against them, who wouldn’t be?