The mystery of the right wing freakout becomes a bit more clear
This map (via) explains so very much about our political landscape:
With this, you can see, first of all, why white men struggled against expanding the franchise to black men and all women. But looking at this map, I also see exactly why the Republican party has been taken over by sheer nuttiness. In theory, the Republicans are the party of Big Business, but for their base, they are really the party of aggrieved privilege, of straight white men trying desperately to resist equality between all citizens that would deprive them of their unearned superior station in society. This is why the mantra for Republicans has been “god, guns, and gays”—all three are actually about one thing, maintaining not just a specific image of masculinity, but suggesting those who fit it are better than everyone else. “God” is about a very specific, traditional, patriarchal god who teaches that women are second class citizens and men are the head of the household. “Guns”, well, I don’t think we need to explain that—it’s laughably obvious, and speaks to the lack of sophistication that this reactionary movement amongst at least the majority of white men. (We’re all aware that not all white men are bad guys; so you straight white dudes about to get upset, why don’t you pat yourself on the back for being in the minority that knows how to act like grown-ups? And hey, you’re a majority in what appears to be 8 whole states.) “Gays” are a threat to traditional gender roles, as well.
They’re getting nuttier because time is demonstrating that their argument—which boils down to arguing they deserve power because they’re more competent—is being disproven, and they don’t have a back-up plan. The world used to reflect their prejudices back at them. They would look around and see that most important people were straight white dudes, and they took this to mean they were naturally superior. As we know, of course, the reality is that they were just successful at keeping everyone else down, and once the constraints began to loosen, well, the world changed dramatically. Now they’re seeing—particularly when it comes to the mean, stupid one—that they aren’t naturally superior, that there a lot of gay people, non-white people, and women that are smarter than them, and that sometimes someone can be all these things at once and still be smarter than them.
When your entire worldview is revealed as a lie, then you are suffering from cognitive dissonance, which psychologists agree is a very painful process for most people.
There’s a couple ways to resolve cognitive dissonance. One is to bring your worldview in line with your new reality, but that is very hard to do. Apparently, the other one is to go batshit fucking crazy, wave a Confederate flag, and buy a bunch of guns while spinning off into paranoia-ville. Consider that ammo sales were up to 12 billion last year, when it’s usually around 7 to 10 billion.
By all means, this shouldn’t be some sort of essentialist argument. As we’ve seen, a lot of women (mostly white women, though) are willing to go right along with the freak-out. They’ve become invested in white male privilege, too—and having known many over my life, I think a lot of it is that they feel they go along as true believers, or they are alone. And more importantly, plenty of straight white dudes don’t go along with this. They’re either not invested in the idea that their straight white maleness should make them superior to others, or they’ve looked at the facts and adjusted their beliefs accordingly. Usually, it’s a combination of both. And I think that’s increasingly true of each generation, so in a sense this is a storm we just have to weather.