King George III in coronation robes (image by Allan Ramsay [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons)

The GOP doesn’t understand 1776

Ivonne Rovira
Ivonne Rovira

GOP, which once stood for “Grand Old Party,” clearly now stands for “Gullible Old People.” But even considering the amount of rampant stupidity you see in the Republican Party, it’s breathtaking how much the Rightwing extremists misunderstand the American Revolution. Because if they did, they wouldn’t call themselves a 1776 moment.

Are you kidding me?

The American Revolution created the idea of our modern democracy, albeit with a start as flawed as can be. Initially, people of color, women, and men without property had no say, but at least the idea was there: participatory democracy without being stuck with a king.

What has been happening since even before the 2020 presidential election is that a group of people who want to install a new king despite the will of the people are trying to clothe themselves in the garb of real patriots. These people aren’t George Washington or Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr or Samuel Adams. They’re the Whiskey Rebellion or 1866 New Orleans Massacre or the 1898 Wilmington, N.C., insurrection against a multiracial government. The Jan. 6 insurrectionists were just like those insurrectionists: a group of white men with an overwhelming sense of entitlement that they felt should outweigh other people’s concerns and democracy itself. That’s kind of the opposite of a 1776 moment. Especially as they saw themselves as launching a new Civil War in order to restore their king to the throne — damn the election results.

Secondly, these so-called Christians talk about the United States as a Christian nation. Sure. The Founding Fathers were so godly that the word God doesn’t appear in the U.S. Constitution even once. Thomas Jefferson — author of the Declaration of Independence and leading luminary of the Unitarian Church — came up with the Jefferson Bible, the kind with all the miracles and what he considered superstitious nonsense cut out. The only thing he’s got in common with Paula White, Donald Trump’s hard-right “spiritual advisor,” is that they both had a penchant for sex outside marriage.

What the Founding Fathers realized was that a Christian nation was what had gotten Europe into so much trouble. (You can read the details in my previous column, “Separation of church and state protects the Church.”) They definitely didn’t want to replicate that here, believing it would sow political discord. (Other Early American religious leaders feared that allowing an established Church would lead to the state corrupting the church, rather than vice versa.) So Right-wing Evangelicalism is itself the antithesis of 1776.

Lastly, every schoolchild can tell you that the battle cry leading up to the American Revolutionary War was “No taxation without representation.” But what these GOP extremists are preaching is no representation at all for the biggest swath of Americans: They want the Red States to rule over the Free States, and they have no interest in all Red State citizens having a say, either. They don’t want city dwellers, Democrats, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, or naturalized citizens getting to have any control over their lives. If this is a 1776 moment, they’re definitely King George with no interest in a true democracy. Don’t take my word for it. Trump himself speculated that he’d “negotiate” away the 22nd Amendment that limits a president to two terms. As he said less than two months before the election:

And 52 days from now we're going to win Nevada, and we're going to win four more years in the White House. And then after that, we'll negotiate, right? Because we're probably — based on the way we were treated — we are probably entitled to another four after that.

Of course, he’s entitled. It’s the Divine Right of Kings. Two years earlier, Trump had envied Chinese dictator Xi Jinping’s status as President for Life.

Trump’s MAGA followers are committed monarchists, as well. They delighted in a monarchist meme.

Republicans, you know who really is the Spirit of 1776? We are. We beat your kind back in the American Revolution, the Civil War, the New Deal, the Civil Rights Era, and with gay marriage. We’ll do it again. We’re going to save democracy yet again.

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Ivonne Rovira

Ivonne is the research director for Save Our Schools Kentucky. She previously worked for The Miami Herald, the Miami News, and The Associated Press. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)


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