Republicanism is now nothing more than a cult. That's the takeaway message of a new CBS News poll splitting out Republican voter sentiments from those of the rest of the nation. Taken together, America's registered voters now say America is not better off than four years ago by an overwhelming 65%-35% margin. Republican voters, however, believe it is—and by a 75% to 25% spread.
Republicans believe the United States' battle against COVID-19 is "going well", also by a 3-to-1 margin; among all voters, 6 in 10 say it is in fact going "badly." Republicans believe COVID-19 deaths are being exaggerated; a plurality of all voters believe it is being undercounted. And, most troubling at all, Republicans are split from the country in whether the now 180,000 United States COVID-19 deaths and rising are "acceptable."
Republicans say the number of deaths has been "acceptable," 57-43%. Other voting groups believe 180,000 pandemic deaths are not acceptable, and by very wide margins.
Even a sociopath would know to at least lie, when asked whether the death of 180,000 people was a reasonable and acceptable outcome. For these voters, however, protecting conservatism, even crooked and incompetent conservatism, from the consequences of its failures is all-consuming. And it continues to break a very large number of brains.
What we're seeing here is a segment of America that has divorced itself from reality—a now-cult that simply denies any news, from economic collapse to mass deaths, that might cause Dear Pasty Leader to look bad. The cult's extent can be gleaned from the 82% of Republicans who, when asked why they believe America is better off than four years ago, cite their own "confidence in Donald Trump."
That's it. America is doing "better" because Donald Trump is in charge, and he says so, and so the same Fox News-primed cult that sent themselves into a froth over ebola, over Benghazi, and over a dozen or more conspiracy theories about the nation's first Black president and first woman to be nominated, say that America is "better" now. Even a pandemic non-response that the rest of the world finds horrifyingly incompetent is in fact Good, with 180,000 deaths are an "acceptable" price to pay in exchange for the nebulous whatever Trump and his allies are doing inside Republican voter heads.
Modern Republicanism is, to repeat, at present a fascist movement. It is willing to forgive mass death as price for ideological purity. It is not just willing to lie about everything, all the time, to protect the movement's floundering "leaders," but aggressively purges those who refuse to embrace the lies themselves. Lawbreaking is considered good when those of the movement do it; laws elsewhere are tightened to more vigorously punish movement opponents. It is obsessed with the national purity of the white, especially over immigrants, and demands not just that immigrants be blocked, but punished. That the police state be made more aggressive, not less. That lives matter only in accordance with Dear Ignorant Crooked Leader.
To self-identified Republicans, 180,000 pandemic deaths are "acceptable" for whatever reasons can be lazily mustered. Perhaps it is a hoax; perhaps they were all old, and vulnerable; perhaps 180,000 people would have died of something, so what's the point of keeping track. But it will not be different when the numbers top 250,000. The numbers in the polls will barely change.
There are Republicans, and there are Americans, and the two no longer share the same reality. The former will do nothing, no matter which laws Trump might break to stay in power or which lies he might tell to brush off the next 100,000 deaths. The willingly corrupt Senate proves that much.