Wyoming shows progressives need to ask what’s really going on

Liz Cheney‘s loss in the Republican Primary in Wyoming should disturb progressives everywhere. [1].It wasn’t as if she’s a Commie Liberal Woke LGBT Democrat or anything like that. Her record was almost impeccably right wing, and she is a scion of dynasty deeply embedded in the ecology of the American Right. Yet the voters dumped her for a candidate who openly and cheerfully espouses the cause and asseverations of Donald Trump. Yet again we ask: Why did reason, that most important of human qualities, fail?

We think the cause of America’s problems is an ancient, unsolved race war. Progressives and the educated may despise the futility of racial identity. How can there be a master race when the very basis of our DNA can now be modified in a laboratory? Yet to most people on all sides of ethnic divides, their identities, and the hatreds thereby engendered, are precious. Religion is quickly drawn in as a marker, in ways that might surprise Christianity’s eponymous founder. Fans of Byzantium will recall the famous sixth-century controversy in which Greek City dwellers were Orthodox, whereas the Semitic country people were impeccably Monophysite [2]. It stands for the followers of most religions in most places.

Rightly or wrongly, certain groups of American whites are now terrified that there majoritarian, dominant identity is being lost. They too have adopted a religious marker, which investigators have called Christian Nationalism. As we think this phenomenon is important, we offer a little cluster of readings where you can learn more at your leisure.

Starting with The Conversation, Samuel Perry offers a good summary. He traces the violent origins of the movement back to incidents like the Waco siege of 1993, a time when when the American Right began to really dig in.


Sam has also co-authored a book with Andrew Whitehead which explores the whole trope more deeply, to some good reviews;

A Whitehead and S Perry Taking Back America for God OUP 2020

The link between notions of identity and masculinity has always intrigued. In our experience, racial jealousies are often closely linked to sexual ones. This book begins to explore this theme, and we wonder if more work along these lines might be fruitful.

Kristin Kobes Du Mez Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a nation Liveright Publishing Corporation 2020

Coda– We do not think the voters of Wyoming are especially bad or stupid. But we do think that they are frightened. Frightened people do not absorb facts, nor think with reason. And that for most of history, reason and argument have belonged to a fraction of the population; we should remember how few we are. Until we recognise how people really are, and not how we would like them to be, our whole Enlightenment project looks uncertain indeed.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/16/wyoming-republican-primary-liz-cheney-donald-trump-harriet-hageman%5B

[2] Davis RHC A History of Medieval Europe Longman1988 see esp pp 90-95

#liz cheney #wyoming #christian right #ethnonationalism #monophysite #republican party #race war

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