But conservatives have their own victim complexes these days; we are, after all, a nation of victims now. All that differs is who we consider our oppressors. The worst narrative of victimization plaguing modern conservatives is their burgeoning belief that any election they lose must have been stolen. Instead of branding ourselves as the party that strives for excellence and rejects the easy road of victimhood narratives, we simply created our own.
While Donald Trump promised to lead the nation back into the pursuit of greatness, what he ultimately delivered was just another story of grievance, a persecution complex that engulfed much of the Party. republican. Trump took a page from Abrams’ playbook. His claims were just as weak as those of Abrams. She claimed voter suppression when she lost in 2018, he claimed voter fraud two years later. He filed dozens of lawsuits for various fraud allegations, as was his right, but they fell far short of changing the outcome in a single state, let alone the several swing states whose results he had to overturn. In many cases, the judges the president himself appointed have ruled against him, a sign of health in our nation’s institutions. Of the 62 lawsuits he and his supporters filed, he lost all but one, a minor victory in Pennsylvania that affected few votes. A Supreme Court with a strong conservative majority has ruled against Trump twice. Senior election officials in virtually every state, regardless of party, said they found no evidence of a significant level of fraud. Our institutions have finally held up. But they shouldn’t have been tested.
Beyond all the court rulings, statements by election officials, and a general lack of evidence of fraud, what I keep coming back to is this: why do I see Republicans insisting that the presidential election was stolen, while accepting the legitimacy of those of Congress? ? Sometimes the Republican Party seems to be heading towards the position that all the races it wins are legitimate and all the races it loses have been stolen. This is not a tenable opinion. It’s just Conservative’s favorite brand of victimization, a sort of instinctive wound of loss more common in playgrounds than in major republics. I say this as a conservative with a fairly well-established conservative bona fide; my last book was called Woke, Inc.. The Republicans could have become the one great party that went beyond grievances and aimed only for greatness; instead, we made grudges about the election central to party identity. Once victimization becomes part of the essence of both parties, it is no more than a national identity.
Being a sore loser is a danger to democracy, regardless of party. It chills me to see the Democratic Party going in the same direction. Partly in response to the victimization narrative of a stolen election, Republicans in many states have passed various electoral reform laws, so far at least 33 bills in 19 states. Many of these reforms strike me as minor tweaks that won’t affect the elections much one way or the other; some of them appear to be token gestures that lawmakers are “doing something.”
But President Joe Biden and other top Democrats call them Jim Crow 2.0. I guess it’s because “the New Jim Crow” has already been taken in by one of their other victimization stories. They apply the Jim Crow label to a number of Republican-led electoral reforms, most of them fairly innocuous. Andrew E. Busch, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, sums it up by saying, “Jim Crow 1.0 involved widespread murder and violent intimidation, onerous taxes, rigged literacy tests, and an absolute ban on black people voting. in the dominant party’s primaries, leading to results such as Mississippi’s 7% voter turnout for African Americans. ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ means[while], requires voters to present proper identification, vote in the correct precinct, and request their absentee ballot every two years instead of every four. One day, historians will wonder that anyone ever took seriously the argument that these two regimes were related to each other.
The Jim Crow analogies don’t stop there. The Democrats are still taking advantage of it. The final story is that the filibuster is also a form of Jim Crow when used to stop their own electoral reforms. Presumably, Democrats didn’t think the filibuster was a relic of Jim Crow when they used it a record 328 times during the 2019-20 Legislature. I don’t know if we’re on Jim Crow 3.0 or 4.0 now. Either way, the power of the well-worn analogy has Biden saying the 2022 midterm elections will be illegitimate if Republicans win: “I’m not going to say it’s going to be legit,” he told a reporter. “The increase [in] the prospect of being illegitimate is directly proportional to our failure to push through these reforms.
Ironically, Republicans and Democrats are converging. Maybe no one likes a bad loser, but it seems like everyone likes being one. Wallowing in this shared narrative of victimhood may soothe the sting of defeat, but it is poison for the rule of law. Republicans were in a prime position to reject identity politics, including the victim identification game, but instead we used stolen election histories as a backdoor to embrace our own victim identity, pursuing the easy way to power. Fighting fire with fire may sound appealing, but water is actually the better choice.
It reminds me of the last passage of George Orwell farm animal“Twelve voices cried out in anger, and they all sounded alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked pig at man, and man at pig, and pig at man again; but already it was impossible to tell which was which. This is, I fear, the fate that awaits a nation of victims. We will become indistinguishable, one day soon, low creatures shouting the same tired tales of victimization at each other and filling in the victim and villain variables with our favorite names.
Evidence of America’s disturbing trend of mutually assured victimhood is everywhere, but if you’re looking for a helpful recent example, Sarah Palin’s reckless libel lawsuit against the New York Times will go well. As Palin would no doubt say, the Time started it. In 2017, after a supporter of Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shot Republican Congressman Steve Scalise and several others during baseball practice, the Time wanted to publish an op-ed linking the shooting to conservative violence. He had to make several leaps in logic to do so. First, the writer brought up a shooting six years earlier when a mental patient injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) and killed six others, vaguely suggesting he might have been motivated by a map that Palin’s PAC had published. neighborhoods like Giffords under the line of sight. So-Time editor James Bennet, unhappy with the mere insinuation, added several lines saying the card had directly prompted the shooting of Giffords. This claim was completely false, without any supporting evidence, except for the Time‘ own wishes. He quickly realized his mistake after a conservative outcry and issued a series of corrections, though none mention Palin by name. A few weeks later, Palin filed a libel suit.
But she lost. As the jury deliberated, the district court judge said that regardless of the verdict, he would dismiss Palin’s lawsuit because it had failed to meet the very high bar that public figures must meet to win awards. defamation cases. A public figure must prove not only that the accused made false statements about him, but that he acted with real malice – that he knowingly or recklessly said something untrue with the intention of causing harm. wrong. This legal standard was established, ironically, in the landmark case New York Times vs. Sullivan. The judge said the TimeThe quick efforts to check and then correct his article mentioning Palin was proof that he lacked actual malice. The jury ended up making the same decision as the judge, although, as Palin’s attorneys will no doubt point out on appeal, a few jurors received alerts on their phones informing them of the judge’s decision as they deliberated.
Not only did Palin lose; she deserved to lose. What is the Time was sloppy, arrogant and full of prejudice, and it’s understandable that she was angry. But in the end, the newspaper was quick to notice and correct its mistake, and the libel law is clear. We place great importance on freedom of speech in America, and that includes the freedom to harshly criticize public figures who have so much influence over the direction of the country. As the court pointed out in Sullivan, with so many rhetoric circulating, it is inevitable that some of them will be false. To keep public figures lively, we need to give them less protection against misrepresentation. The deal in America is that if you want to be famous, you have to be thick-skinned. Palin instead chose to play the victim, spending millions of dollars and several years tracking down the Time on a mistake he had immediately recognized and corrected. She should have just moved on.
There are only two ways to win a culture war: defeat the other side or infect it with your own values. Regardless of who wins the next election, Republicans are losing the culture war, and it’s not just because liberals control the media, universities, Hollywood, or even business. Republicans aren’t just losing to the revival and its many tales of victimhood. They lose because they have adopted the tactics and principles of their opponents and in doing so represent nothing but the pursuit of power. Democrats may have been the first to master telling stories of victimization, but lately Republicans have decided to join them in telling stories of persecution. They sacrifice fundamental principles for short-term political gain.
It’s easy to be a bad loser; it’s harder to figure out how to win. The heartwarming coverage of stolen election stories allows those who embrace them to avoid self-examination and introspection and lay all their electoral shortcomings at the feet of others. This is how the woke left wins – not with a bang, but with a groan. Not by winning an argument battle with the other side, but by having the other side adopt their own values and methods without even realizing it, even as they continue to clash.