Veteran Washington Post investigative journalist and author Carl Bernstein appeared on CNN’s New Day on Friday morning and explained that the modern version of the Republican Party – and its embrace of the hateful politics of former President Donald Trump – has triggered a “cultural civil war” in the United States.
“Democracy is in peril because the Republican Party has become the party of Trumpism, and the party of disenfranchisement. And what we have seen in Idaho, what we have also seen in Arizona, in these supposed recounts ordered because of supposed voter fraud, is it doesn’t exist. It is part of the big lie. The big lie is not just about the lie that Donald Trump did not lose the election, a few months ago, but rather it looks toward 2020 – sorry, 2024 – and the idea that we are going to have another, quote, ‘rigged election.’ They’re setting this up so that there can be no legitimacy in our electoral process. And the Republican party has been taken over by this movement, that is the most radical political movement of our lifetimes – that has come to power in any form in Washington, in our state legislatures – but I think what we really need to acknowledge here is that we are in a civil war in this country. We are in a cultural civil war such as we have never seen since 1860 to 1865, and that the radicalism of the Republican Party today is almost comparable to a secessionist movement in this country because of what the Republican Party now advocates in a kind of Trumpism – doesn’t need Donald Trump anymore, he’s fanned the flames, he’s ignited them and the movement – and we need in journalism, in particular in the media, to start looking at what’s going on in the country outside of Washington,” Bernstein explained to host Brianna Keilar.
“Republicans are not fixing their internal problem, right? They’re leaning into it. So what should Democrats be doing that they’re not doing?” Keilar asked.
Bernstein did not take the bait:
First of all, let’s look at the Republicans. They’re being very successful at what they’re doing. Given the astonishing ideology to which the Republican party has become enslaved, disenfranchisement, controlling through authoritarianism in the United States. Let’s take a moment to look at what [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman] General [Mark] Milley said. The head of our military said of Donald Trump’s movement and Trumpism that they are like brown shirts, that they are like Hitlerism. This is the chief of our military, a great hero incidentally for coming forth, unlike in many others who have served in the Trump presidency and saying these things aloud. The Republican Party has become captured by this movement, and that’s what we need to look at. It is not just these incidents that we see. Let’s look at January 6th, and how that was revved up and incited by those around Donald Trump if not by Donald Trump himself, and how the Republican party is trying to suppress legitimate investigation of what happened on January 6th. So we are in a real civil war, a cultural civil war in this country, such as we haven’t seen in 100 years, and we, you know, we keep, in media and politics, looking at our country and in Washington as if it is disconnected from our culture itself. We need to start covering our culture and what has happened in the last 20, 25 years in this country, that Donald Trump was able to inflame and ignite. And that is where we are today and that is the real story.
Keilar asked Bernstein to elaborate further on “what he thinks is missing” from journalists.
“I think that it needs to be at the top of our agenda to understand that what happens in Washington, that, quote, our ‘political culture’ and, quote, our ‘media culture,’ is disconnected from this larger cultural phenomenon that goes so deep into who we are as a divided people, a divided people, the likes of which we have not seen in 175 years, and that includes the anti-war movement days of the 20th century,” Bernstein said.
“This is something very different. The division that is separating and polarizing us in this country is vicious. It is deep. It is full of hate and anger, and most of that hate and anger is resting on big lies. It is somewhat one-sided in terms of who is responsible for this, and it is this far-right movement of authoritarianism that Donald Trump was able to exploit so successfully,” Bernstein continued.
“We need to look at who we are as a people, not just who we are in politics, not just who we are in media – and yes we examine social media – let’s look at the people,” he added. “Let’s go out into the country, talk to the people, look in these towns and in cities and urban areas and what the divisions are and what is being advocated in the name of Republicanism today that is a foreign, alien ideology to this country, the which – the likes of which no party in our history has embraced a majority or minority, one of the two parties – has never embraced a radical agenda such as we are seeing today going back until the Civil War.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.