Saturday, July 09, 2016

Plenty Of Blame To Go Around

There is a long history of race hatred in the United States. Last week added a particularly horrific chapter to that history. Most tragically, the party which was born out of opposition to that history has become its modern home. Paul Krugman writes:

To put it bluntly, the modern Republican Party is in essence a machine designed to deliver high after-tax incomes to the 1 percent. Look at [Paul] Ryan: Has he ever shown any willingness, for any reason, to make the rich pay so much as a dime more in taxes? Comforting the very comfortable is what it’s all about.

But not many voters are interested in that goal. So the party has prospered politically by harnessing its fortunes to racial hostility, which it has not-so-discreetly encouraged for decades.

The late Lee Atwater taught Republicans to talk in code -- beginning with the first President Bush:

These days, former President George H.W. Bush is treated as an elder statesman, too gentlemanly to endorse the likes of Donald Trump — but remember, he’s the one who ran the Willie Horton ad. Mitt Romney is also sitting this one out — but he was happy to accept Mr. Trump’s endorsement back when the candidate was best known for his rabid birtherism.

There are those in the party who are not racists. But  some of its leaders are -- because they have adopted racist rhetoric to achieve their economic goals:

I’m not saying that all leading Republicans are racists; most of them probably aren’t, although Mr. Trump probably is. It is that in pursuit of their economic — actually, class-interest — goals they were willing to act as enablers, to make their party a safe space for prejudice. And the result is a party base that is strikingly racist, in which a plurality of voters believe that Mr. Obama is a Muslim, and more — a base just waiting for a candidate willing to blurt out what the establishment conveyed by innuendo.

But they are not the party's only enablers. A large number of journalists -- under the banner of "balanced" -- have refused to confront what has happened to the party: 

Political analysts who tried to talk about the G.O.P.’s transformation, like Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, were effectively ostracized for years. Instead, the respectable, “balanced” thing was to pretend that the parties were symmetric, to turn a blind eye to the cynicism of the modern Republican project.

The point is that this kind of false balance does real harm. The Republican establishment directly enabled the forces that led to Trump; but many influential people outside the G.O.P. in effect enabled the enablers. And so here we are.

There is plenty of blame to go around.



The Mound of Sound said...

A hole dug so deep there's no longer any way out.

Owen Gray said...

The usual advice is to stop digging, Mound. These folks don't know how to stop.

rww said...

But some people figure once they've dug past the point of ever being able to get out the top of the whole they should keep digging in hopes they can get out the bottom.

Lorne said...

If there is one thing that the Trump candidacy has exposed, Owen, it is that the Republican Party itself is morally bankrupt, given the number of members and politicians who are quite willing to endorse Trump despite his demagogic and racist nature.

Owen Gray said...

It's astounding and disheartening to see them fall into line, Lorne. Not only does power corrupt. The prospect of power corrupts.

Owen Gray said...

The problem, rww, is that -- when you're digging down -- the hole is bottomless.

Steve said...

Its very simple but easy to understand. All men want to be rich, rich men want to be King, and thne King is not satisfied untill he rules everything (so says the Boss) take a look at very recent history. Hillary walks from something that would have every spider in the apparatchuk eating her guts if she was Edward Snowden, Julian Assage or Chelsa Handler.

Now we have another lone gunman in Dallas to ponder?

The only question is why does Game of Thrones only have ten million viewers?

Owen Gray said...

There's a lot of ill will in the species, Steve. When it triumphs, we all suffer.

Anonymous said...

"To put it bluntly, the modern Republican Party is in essence a machine designed to deliver high after-tax incomes to the 1 percent. ... But not many voters are interested in that goal."

To put it bluntly, the modern Democratic Party is in essence a machine designed to deliver high after-tax incomes to the 1 percent. ... But not many voters are interested in that goal.

-Bernie Orbust

John B. said...

I'm sure there are lots of members and leaders within the Republican Party who aren't racist. I don't care.

Maybe Trump is a racist and maybe he isn't. I don't know and I don't care.

Every time I listen to Trump representatives and supporters carrying on over his friends and associates of varying race or ethnicity, or yapping about how they've known him for so many years and can assure the public that there isn't a racist bone in his body, or reminding us about his Jewish in-laws and grandchildren, I want to puke.

I've been waiting for several months for some panel moderator or opposition representative to have the courage to state the obvious: that there isn't any point in arguing whether the man's conduct or attitude would clearly define him as racist and whether it does or not simply shouldn't matter, given that he provides us with daily demonstrations of pandering to those sentiments within segments of the electorate that he has determined or been advised to target for support.

The same goes for a lot of the other Repugs although, for most, less obviously so.

Owen Gray said...

They say that George Wallace only came out loudly in support of segregation when he discovered that it would win him votes, John. The question is, "What is the price for Trump's soul?" Apparently, not much.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, that's true, Bernie. So when you have a forced choice, the question becomes, "Which choice is the least poisonous?"