Sunday, March 13, 2016

Inheriting The Wind


The Republican Establishment and the Mainstream Media claim they are bewildered by the rise of Donald Trump. That claim, Neal Gabler writes, is as believable as Claude Rain's claim, in Casablanca, that he is "shocked, shocked" to discover that gambling is going on in Humphrey Bogart's place of business.

But here is what no one in the GOP establishment wants you to know, and no one in the media wants to admit: Donald Trump isn’t the destruction of the Republican Party; he is the fulfillment of everything the party has been saying and doing for decades. He is just saying it louder and more plainly than his predecessors and intra-party rivals.

The media have been acting as if the Trump debacle were the biggest political story to come down the pike in some time. But the real story – one the popularity of Trump’s candidacy has revealed and inarguably the biggest political story of the last 50 years — is the decades-long transformation of Republicanism from a business-centered, small town, white Protestant set of beliefs into quite possibly America’s primary institutional force of bigotry, intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, warmongering, intractability and cruelty against the vulnerable and powerless.

Starting with Richard Nixon's southern strategy, the Republican Party actively sought the support of bigots and extremists. As it moved further and further right, its ranks were peopled by those who actively promoted intolerance:

The sainted Reagan blew his party’s cover when to kick off his general election campaign in 1980 he spoke at the Neshoba County Fair, just outside Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers had been brutally murdered in 1964. He wasn’t there to demonstrate his sympathy to the civil rights movement, but to demonstrate his sympathy to those who opposed it. This was an ugly moment, and it didn’t go entirely unnoticed in the media. In fact, David Brooks would later be moved to defend the speech, which invoked the not-so-subtle buzz words “states’ rights,” and to act as if Reagan had been slandered by those who called him out on it.

When the Elder George Bush chose Lee Atwater to direct his campaign, the genteel Mr. Bush was giving Atwater permission to make coded bigotry part of the campaign. In a now infamous interview, Atwater explained what was at the core of the Southern strategy:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

The media let all of this pass. And they continue to let it all pass:

Accurate reporting means taking sides when one side is spouting falsehoods. I am still waiting for the media to correct the GOP pronouncements that Obamacare has cost us jobs and sent health care costs skyrocketing – both of which are screamingly false. I am not holding my breath.

Mr. Trump did not get to where he is all by himself. His enablers have inherited the wind.


Kirby Evans said...

Yes Owen, I think this sad fact is the crux of what is going on here. THe Republican Party has become over the years of my lifetime and genuine fascist party in many ways. However, the one ingredient that they have been missing is the typical economic nationalism that characterized classic fascism. The Republican Party fostered, rather, a kind of illusory kind of nationalism in which they talked a lot about "America" but meanwhile sold their nation out to international capital. (The Democrats have, of course, done the same thing). But what I wonder with the Trump phenomenon, is if someone like Trump were to become president with all this rhetoric of "making America great again," how will they maintain this illusion. It will be much more difficult to continue to defend these so-called "free trade" agreements and give corporations money to move overseas if you have so radically fired up the rhetoric of defending "America" and Americans. The obvious answer, of course, is diversion of the people through policies such as continual war, racism, and scapegoating. I could imagine Trump creating brownshirt style volunteer brigades to round up "illegal immigrants" and to build their "wall" etc etc. Meanwhile continuing to send jobs overseas and make it easier for corporations to import goods from places with no labour or environmental laws. The policy leads, of course, to total disaster in more ways than one but that surely won't trouble them.

Rural said...

" he is the fulfillment of everything the party has been saying and doing for decades. He is just saying it louder and more plainly than his predecessors "

The surprise is not that he is saying it but that so many seem to agree with him!
For the sake of our friends to the south and indeed the rest of the world let us hope that the thoughtful and compassionate outnumber the bigots in the end.

Owen Gray said...

When Justin was in Washington, Rural, he quoted Lincoln's line about Americans being ruled by their "better angels." We should all hope that, in the end, our neighbours will remember Lincoln's advice.

Owen Gray said...

The irony, Kirby, is that history teaches us how this story ends. But I suspect that the Trumpists believe, with Henry Ford, that history is bunk.

the salamander said...

.. outstanding read this morning.. Thanks .. !

the salamander said...

.. as much as Trump jumps out at us.. I find Cruz just as shocking.. His face alone is stunning.. a frightening revelation in action ..

Owen Gray said...

Cruz' intolerance is as offensive as Trump's, salamander. But the source of his intolerance is different than Trump's. Cruz is full of evangelical righteousness.

Anonymous said...

I read this morning that an ABC random survey of 1000 Americans shows that if Trump and Clinton face one another, Trump will win. As Trump might say, "This is huge, really huge. Amazing!"
Whatever it is, it's very worrying - really. Big time. Worrying!
Follow the link below to the report.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

The Republican Party Owen, abandoned rational thinking and rational behaviour a long time ago.Their communication with the American public consists of uttering bromides and rhetorical dogma. They are a walking intellectual corpse who no one has yet thought to bury.Trump will do that. This was a great post. Thx for sharing.

Owen Gray said...

From the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Trump, Pam. A sad demise.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Anon. Clearly, their better angels are not at work.

Anonymous said...

@anon 12:32 read the article and reviewed the .PDF of the survey and I'm not seeing the Trump over Clinton statement.

.PDF - 8 pages

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Anon. The survey seems to concentrate on what motivates Trump's supporters, not whether or not he has more support than Hillary does. The conventional wisdom seems to be that, if Trump is the GOP nominee, Hillary will win. Time will tell.