Guns, God and Government — The Coming of White Minority Rule?

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who pointed guns at Black Lives Matters protesters, were so beloved by the GOP establishment they were invited to speak at the Republican National Convention.

In 2012 James Carville was ecstatic on CNN as incumbent President Barack Obama had just won re-election in convincing fashion over GOP challenger Mitt Romney. Carville who co-authored the 2008 book 40 More Years: How Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation seemed prophetic as he predicted a new Democratic majority that would dominate national politics. He cited the GOP reliance on a shrinking white male voter base to remain competitive in presidential contests. In his estimation, demographics were destiny, and the GOP was on the wrong side of the equation.

The GOP also saw the proverbial tea leaves and seems to have begun preparing for this moment. First, came the major blow to the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Roberts-led Supreme Court which invalidated Section Five requiring the preclearance of new voting laws in states that had a history of voter suppression. After the preclearance hurdle was removed a slew of new voting laws and precision gerrymandering was enacted in traditionally red states that had become competitive in presidential elections to create the current GOP supermajority in several statehouses across the nation. Truly, the demise of the GOP had been greatly exaggerated. 

What Carville and other Democratic strategists misjudged was the resilience and permanence of white supremacy as a guiding principle, not to mention the willingness of the media, centrist Democrats, and so many Americans to fail to recognize it as such. As the logic went, the GOP would soon be a marginal party as younger and more educated white voters would further strengthen the Democratic coalition in elections in the decades to come. These young, white, college-educated voters along with a majority of non-white voters who traditionally vote Democratic would dominate national elections. On this point, Carville was correct: the Democrats have trounced the GOP in the popular vote in the presidential election for the entire 21st century. The problem is, the US doesn’t elect the president, or any of its political leaders, through a national popular vote.

I’m in full agreement with Peter Laarman’s recent piece here on RD, “The Coup That Never Ends: ‘Whitemanism’ and the Perils of a Flimsy Liberalism” as he outlines the dangers of a permanent insurrectionist mindset on the part of the GOP to vanquish democratic rule in the United States in favor of white minority rule. Liberals and progressives had overestimated the degree to which demographic changes would result in new Democratic majorities as they’d underestimated the attraction of racial resentment politics among younger and college-educated white politicians who’d been elected to Congress. 

Sound-bite ready, tweet-proficient, college-educated white men and women have taken up the mantle of race-based grievance that earlier generations of white conservative politicians held decades before them. They’re joined by a small but growing number of majority non-white voters, activists, and elected officials who’ve grown disillusioned with a Democratic party that has repeatedly ignored its populist roots and embraced neoliberalism. Currently, we face a reactionary right-wing that’s attempting to impose white minority rule based on three principles: God, Guns, and [control of the] Government.

The first principle of this equation is Godor more accurately white Christian nationalism. Much has been written, especially here on RD, on the relationship between white evangelical Christians and the resurgence of white nationalist extremism. At each stage in the march of white supremacy, American Christianity has carried its bannernot just evangelical Christianity, but white American Christianity in general. While progressive denominations and liberal wings of mainstream denominations have attempted to push back against the most oppressive features of American Christianity, this embodiment of the Christian faith has been firmly wedded to the project of white racial domination. 

Even as evangelical denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention attempt to wrestle with their racist past, they continue to fall short of repudiating white (Christian) supremacy. While some conservative commentators have expressed relief that the Southern Baptist Convention repelled a populist fundamentalist takeover, its “On The Sufficiency Of Scripture For Race And Racial Reconciliation” falls short of a definitive repudiation of white supremacy both in name and principle. The resolution offers a repudiation of “racism in all its forms” which realistically could include the red herring of “reverse racism” but does not explicitly condemn the most virulent form of racism in the United States and the one that the Southern Baptist Convention has had historic ties to: white supremacy. Instead, as Andre Johnson pointed out just this week on RD, we get three condemnations of theories and worldviews that are thinly-veiled attacks on critical race theory.

RESOLVED, That we reaffirm our agreement with historic, biblically-faithful Southern Baptist condemnations of racism in all forms; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we reject any theory or worldview that finds the ultimate identity of human beings in ethnicity or in any other group dynamic; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we reject any theory or worldview that sees the primary problem of humanity as anything other than sin against God and the ultimate solution as anything other than redemption found only in Christ; and be it further

RESOLVED, We, therefore, reject any theory or worldview that denies that racism, oppression, or discrimination is rooted, ultimately, in anything other than sin…

So, if you’re keeping score, generic racism gets one strike, critical race theory gets three strikes, and white supremacy gets zero. Looks like white supremacy won the day. And for that reason, those who believe that American Christianity can be a potential break on the slide towards anti-democratic white minority rule are deluding themselves. If white minority rule becomes a reality in the United States, you can be assured that American Christianity will deploy its full arsenal of scriptural justification to rationalize why the godless socialist sinners of Black and brown urban American should be ruled over by the Elect of God. And I’ll give you one guess who that is. 

The second and perhaps most critical principle of the tripartite formula is guns. When the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004 under George W. Bush, Americans once again had access to weapons that could cause maximum damage and fatalities. The proliferation of high-powered semi-automatic weapons along with a steady erosion of gun control measures in the very states that hold the key to continued GOP rule means that an armed reactionary populace is ready to enforce the divine dictates they believe they’re called to uphold in an apocalyptic showdown between God’s chosen and the godless forces of socialism and critical race theory. 

There was no more powerful demonstration of this than the sometimes violent reaction to mask mandates and state-imposed shutdowns, and ultimately the assault on the Capitol, as armed protesters besieged the seats of government with little pushback from law enforcement. Not to mention the presence of off-duty law enforcement and ex-military participants in the Jan 6 siege. It’s not hyperbolic to state that there’s a hyper-militaristic, well-armed population ready to uproot democratically-elected governments ironically, in the words of Malcolm X, either by “the ballot or the bullet.” 

It’s easy to lay this hyper militarism at the feet of pro-gun orgs like the NRA, but it would be a mistake to think that this arming of the right-wing militias and vigilantes wouldn’t have occurred without such well-oiled PR machines. Pro-gun groups have successfully pushed for more lax measures on both gun ownership and the carrying of weapons in the public domain, so they’re accessible not just for self-defense but also for public displays of intimidation. 

On the flip side, gun ownership has been on a dramatic climb amongst non-whites, most notably among African Americans, as white vigilante violence is on the rise and, even scarier, is seemingly encouraged. As victims of failed gun control policies, African Americans who are overly concentrated in urban areas with the most stringent gun laws, along with inequitable enforcement of conceal carry laws, place Black folks in a most vulnerable position as white vigilante violence threatens largely unarmed citizens.

However, it would be a mistake to believe this turn towards to gun ownership amongst non-whites can match the combined force of white nationalist militias, sympathetic law enforcement officers, and elected GOP politicians who’ve already indicated that they make a clear distinction between white nationalists fighting to preserve their way of life and Black and brown people trying to preserve their lives.  

With the call from God and the ability to impose its will with a well-armed population, this nation stands at a critical point not seen since the Civil War. While secession is not the desired path this time for the continuation of white minority rule, the domination of statehouses, Congress, and the federal judiciary is totally within the purview through mostly, if not totally, legal means. It’s not necessary for the GOP to win New York or California, it just needs to maintain control of the Midwest, Deep South, and Mountain West. 

Simply put, voter suppression laws and continued voter intimidation (armed if necessary) will be the norm rather than the exception as the nation continues to get darker, queerer, and more secular. While all participants in white minority rule need not even be “white” for it to be effective, the homogenizing effect of right-wing politics is to minimize difference in the name of Americanness. Black conservatives and right-leaning Hispanics can be included in the lot of “real Americans” or “independent thinkers” as they reject the identity politics of the Left for the identity politics of the Right. 

It would have been great had there been someone warning us about this possibility before we found ourselves in such a precarious position. In fact, there was: Carl T. Rowan. A respected journalist, Rowan wrote the oft-forgotten book The Coming Race War in America: A Wake-Up Call, which included these words: 

“… in just the last decade we have seen some gruesome manifestations of racial and ethnic hatred in Americaliterally, murder in the streets, blood spilling everywhere. We have seen political fights in Congress over who should get the most of America’s goodiesfights that have caused shutdowns of the federal government and mind-boggling gridlock in Washington. One senses that our nation is split irrevocably and that there is no one to bring us together again.” 

Is Rowan describing the 2010s and the rise of Trumpism? No, these words were penned in 1996 in the midst of the Bush-Clinton years as stagnant wages, deindustrialization, racial resentment, and political retrenchment had created a right-wing populist charge led by Pat Buchanan who shocked the GOP establishment by garnering nearly a quarter of the primary vote in 1992 and winning three primaries in 1996. However, Buchanan’s brand of white racial resentment populism didn’t yet have the media platform provided by Fox News, assault weapons were still prohibited by federal law, and white nationalist militias were under constant surveillance by federal authorities in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. 

However, after 25 years of conservative talk radio, internet message boards, Fox News, the emergence of social media, hyper-partisan politics, and a Reconstruction-style whitelash against the first Black president, a considerable portion of white Americans who’ve shifted further right on cultural and economic issues were primed for not just a candidate like Donald Trump, but for an all-out insurrection against the democratic norms of the American state. What racial resentment and economic uncertainty couldn’t reach was captured by conspiracy theories like QAnon creating a perfect storm of societal upheaval. 

Rowan’s warning was disregarded, but 25 years later his words seem prescient about the potential dangers facing this nation. While white minority rule in America is not inevitable, it is becoming an increasing possibility as a considerable contingent of this country believes they have the God-given duty to preserve white supremacy no matter the cost, have the armed capability to cause social and political unrest, and sympathetic politicians in a major political party willing to aid and abet them in their effort. What progressives, liberals, centrists, and conservatives committed to democracy and the rule of law do at this moment will determine what type of nation we will live in for the foreseeable future. There is no easy solution at this moment but doing nothing is not an option. Either a stand is taken or prepare for the coming of white minority rule. For most of us, it won’t be pretty.