GOP Fascists Have Fired The First Shot In A New Cold Civil War

GOP Fascists Have Fired The First Shot In A New Cold Civil War

Michigan militia members outside Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office on April 30, 2020

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Today’s racist, revanchist Republican Party knows after its stab at taking power by force on January 6, 2021, that violent insurrection isn’t going to work. If a dozen of them had been armed, or even a few hundred, they still would have been driven from the Capitol. The other side, that of law and order, wasn’t prepared that time, but when they did show up in the form of the National Guard and police reinforcements, the number of armed Guardsmen and Guardswomen and cops would have overwhelmed even hundreds of armed radical militias.

In Michigan, where armed militias showed up at the Capitol in 2020 to protest the state’s COVID lock-down policy, armed protestors in camo uniforms and masks wearing bulletproof vests briefly blocked the entrance to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office. They stood menacingly in the gallery of the Michigan House with their loaded weapons as lawmakers debated bills and gave speeches. Armed protestors returned two more times to the state Capitol to demonstrate against Whitmer’s COVID stay-at-home orders. One of the protestors at the first demonstration was later arrested and convicted in the failed plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer.

Two years later in the mid-term elections, Whitmer won reelection by more than 10 points, Democrats flipped both houses in the state legislature, and a ballot measure to put abortion rights in the state constitution won by more than 55 percent of the vote.

Short answer: all those guns and all that camo and all those threats against Whitmer and Democratic lawmakers – some of whom took to either wearing or bringing bulletproof vests to work in the Capitol – did not work.

In the red states Republicans already control, armed protests have not been necessary. Republican-controlled legislatures have passed anti-abortion bills at will. Twenty-six states passed “open carry” gun laws. Every red state has passed multiple laws imposing restrictions of various kinds on the right to vote.

The same week that three children and three adults were murdered at the Convent school in Nashville, the Tennessee legislature was considering a new bill to lower the age for the right to open carry guns without a permit from 21 to 18. They are also considering a bill that would allow open-carry of firearms in places where they are banned. The legislature had recently passed, and the governor had signed, anti-trans laws.

Republicans are not satisfied, especially not in Tennessee, with the power of having a Republican governor and supermajorities in both houses of the legislature. Last Friday, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to oust two Black members for the crime of disturbing the decorum of the legislature when they spoke up in the well of the House during a protest against the school shootings earlier in the week. The votes to expel the two Black freshman representatives were along party lines controlled by the supermajority of Republicans.

That move was only one anti-democratic thing the Tennessee legislature did recently. Two years ago, Republicans gerrymandered the congressional district that had always covered Nashville and therefore elected a Democrat to Congress, into three districts that had long fingerlings reaching into Republican areas around the Tennessee capital. In 2022, the Democrat congressman representing Nashville didn’t even bother to run, and three Republicans representing the newly gerrymandered Nashville-centered districts replaced him. The Tennessee House and Senate districts had long since been gerrymandered to produce the Republican supermajorities in both bodies.

Tennessee and all the other red states had already passed restrictions on voting that included having to produce state-issued photo ID’s like drivers’ licenses, cutting back the days and hours for early voting, restricting the use of ballot drop boxes, and every other thing they could think of to limit the votes of minorities, young people, and Democrats in general. The voting restrictions in red states have led to the disenfranchisement of people who have enjoyed the right to vote for six and seven decades, but who cannot meet new requirements such as having a photo ID or drivers’ license. Many of these people have been Black.

All of this was made possible by the Republican-controlled Supreme Court that defenestrated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in its Shelby v Holder decision ending protections under the act’s Article Five. Then the Supreme Court decided an Arizona Case, Brnovich v Democratic National Committee, that weakened Section Two of the Voting Rights Act that prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

Now the Supreme Court, made even more conservative with the addition of Justice Amy Comey Barrett, has heard Merrill v Milligan, about Alabama’s racially discriminatory redistricting. They are expected to rule in favor of Alabama at the end of this term, doing further damage to the Voting Rights Act.

Are you detecting a trend here? It gets worse. When a Democrat, Roy Cooper, was elected governor of North Carolina in 2017, the Republican-dominated legislature passed laws stripping him of the power to make appointments to the state’s powerful election boards and to appoint new members of the board of trustees of the state’s university system.

In Wisconsin, outgoing Republican Governor Scott Walker and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed bills that limited the power of newly elected Governor Tony Evers before he even took office. One new law forces the governor to ask permission from the legislature before making changes to various state programs. Another law limits the power of the governor to change the state’s recently passed restrictive voter-ID law, and yet a third law strips from the governor the power to remove Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.

Now that a liberal has beaten a far-right conservative for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that gives liberals a 4-3 majority, the Republican controlled legislature, which has a supermajority in the Senate, is threatening to impeach the winner of the Supreme Court race even before she takes her seat on the court.

All these moves by gerrymandered Republican-controlled legislatures reflect the new attitude of the Republican Party: if they can’t win elections, they’re going to strip powers from the people who beat them, or simply run them out of the offices they were elected to. They don’t need a reason. The two Black Tennessee representatives didn’t break any laws, the way others who were forced out of the legislature did. Nor did Janet Protasiewicz, who beat her arch-conservative Republican opponent by 11 points.

Republicans with gerrymandered supermajorities in red states, and even toss-up states like Wisconsin, do anti-democratic things simply because they can.

That’s why Republicans don’t need to resort to violent insurrection. They’re getting nearly everything they want without it. The votes to expel two Black representatives from the Tennessee state legislature were the first shots fired in a new cold civil war, and they won’t be the last. We can look forward to more authoritarian moves by Republicans anytime they can’t win by legitimate means what they believe is theirs: the authoritarian right to minority rule, if that is what’s necessary. In no way does the word “conservative” apply to them. They are as radical as Leninists were in their day. The “bourgeoisie” of the Republican Party is their MAGA base, and they are willing to gain and exercise power in any way they deem necessary.

If that sounds less like the communism of Lenin and more like the fascism of Hitler, that’s because it is.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.


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