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Opinion This is why MAGA nativists are in a panic

Students celebrate in front of the Supreme Court in June 2020 after justices rejected President Donald Trump's effort to end legal protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
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Today’s Republican Party is the province that welcomes nativists who reject both the sanctity of elections and the core creed of America (“all men are created equal”). Far too many in the party seek to define the United States as a White, Christian nation and accept the right-wing media fantasyland that perpetuates white grievance and replacement theory. That should be a great source of concern to pro-democracy Americans who understand that our Constitution rejects the premise that race or ethnicity or religion defines our country. The good news is that the MAGA crowd is failing spectacularly to indoctrinate fellow Americans.

Analysis from the Pew Research Center finds: “Compared with 2016 — when a wave of immigration to Europe and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in the U.S. made immigration and diversity a major issue on both sides of the Atlantic — fewer now believe that to truly be American, French, German or British, a person must be born in the country, must be a Christian, has to embrace national customs, or has to speak the dominant language.” In the United States, only 35 percent of Americans say criteria such as birthplace or religion are important to a person’s nationality, compared to 55 percent in 2016.

A striking 60 percent of Americans think the country “will be better off in the future if it is open to changes regarding traditional ways of life,” as opposed to 38 percent who do not. (However, only 32 percent on the right are pro-change.) And by a lopsided margin of 61 percent to 36 percent, Americans believe that unseen discrimination is a bigger problem than people seeing discrimination where it does not exist.

The percentage of conservatives, moderates and liberals who say immigrants want to adopt our customs has also increased. On the right, this has been quite dramatic (going from 37 percent to 51 percent).

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The breakdown in U.S. opinion follows predictable ideological and partisan lines. For example, 53 percent of conservatives still say being a Christian is important to being an American while only 29 percent of moderates and 15 percent of liberals say the same. Remarkably, 46 percent of Republicans say people have to be born in this country to be truly American, compared to only 25 percent of Democrats. Likewise, “about two-thirds (66%) of those on the right say Christians face discrimination, compared with just 21% of those on the left.”

The polls contains some important insights.

First, the reactionary, white-supremacist MAGA message may have twisted and contorted the Republican Party, but it has not convinced Americans as a whole or even many Republicans. The United States continues to become more tolerant and more open to change despite the scourge of social media disinformation, dumb GOP cultural memes and four years of a racist president.

Second, simply because the GOP is losing the argument does not mean it will change course. To the contrary, we have seen many Republicans double down on xenophobia and white grievance. As they fall further out of favor with American public opinion and the population continues to diversify, their desperation, paranoia and retreat into a parallel media universe will accelerate. Like the frustrated American tourist overseas who thinks people will understand him better if he simply speaks more loudly, right-wing media hosts have become more willing to promulgate racist tropes such as replacement theory.

Finally, younger Americans are more inclusive in their views (e.g., less restrictive with regard to who gets to be an American, more aware of actual discrimination, more open to change) than are older Americans. This should not be too surprising, given that younger Americans are themselves more diverse and more progressive generally in their politics.

In other words, the MAGA base is panicking in large part because time and math are working against it. These voters are right to conclude that their domination of American culture and politics is in decline. No wonder they are so angry all the time.

Read more:

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Matt Bai: Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney and the last stand of Republican royalty

Brian Klaas: America already has a realistic solution to Republican authoritarianism

Liz Cheney: The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.

The Post’s View: Liz Cheney told the truth. Republicans must decide whether they value Trump over it.

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