January 31, 2020 was the worst day for democracy in America since April 12, 1861, when South Carolina forces opened fire on Fort Sumter. Both days represented a moment when an old guard representing a dying way of life placed their own survival ahead of that of the United States and our Constitution.

What followed in 1861 was a desperate, all out attempt to deny progress—the rise of the industrial U.S., the end of slavery—and the same is what should be expected of a GOP that cannot survive the demographic changes that will transform an urbanizing, post-industrial U.S. It is an irony that the GOP was founded as an anti-slavery party, a harbinger of the changes to come in the mid-19th century, and today has become a reactionary force surviving by stoking fears of the massive U.S. social transformation that is already well underway.

Despite the combative rhetoric of the blustering president and his Republican base, the tactics employed by the no-longer-grand old party are unlikely to involve violence in the streets. Rather, they are employing different kinds of scorched earth tactics, in this case against the democratic system of government that, untwisted by their efforts to pervert it, would gradually give more power to a new American majority that is not white and is largely urban. (By 2043 the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than half of all Americans will be from groups once categorized as “minorities.” Today, already 82 percent of Americans live in urban areas. In twenty years, that number is projected to be around 90 percent.)

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