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March 15, 2021 3 min

It’s not hard to see that the Republican party was the Party of Trump during the four years he was president. But what kind of party are they now? Honestly, it’s hard to tell. “When you looked at the platform for the 2020 election, they didn't create one,” says New Yorker writer and professor Jelani Cobb. There is one thing about today’s GOP, however, that is very clear: “They've doubled and tripled down on a type of politics that is very appealing to disgruntled white people or white identity politics.” If history repeats itself, as it often does, this tactic will bite them in their behinds. In this episode of The New Abnormal, Jelani chats with Molly Jong-Fast about the major similarities he sees between the current state of the GOP and parties of the past that no longer exist. Oof. “The Republican party [are] the modern version of the Whigs,” he explains. “They broke apart over debates about the expansion of slavery, and they could not figure out where they stood on these fundamental questions. They were incoherent internally. And so what was notable to me was the extent to which all those dynamics are present within the current Republican party.” And capitalizing on “white desperation,” is one of the ways it’s trying to remain in power, he adds. This explains the Jan. 6 riots and there’s some bad news: “It might be reasonable to look at January 6th as the onset of a particular kind of political violence rather than the culmination of something that's already concluded,” he says. Then! Molly asks Jelani about the Voting Rights Act and its fate, and he shares a history nugget that many people might not know about (Abraham Lincoln basically gave Black people the right to vote to offset white supremacists in the South, which he saw as a “direct threat to American democracy.”) History strikes again. “A lot more is at stake than we generally acknowledge,” says Jelani.

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