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“From Reagan Democrat To Trump Republican”: It Is Way Beyond Time To Stop Calling These Voters “Reagan Democrats”

Heather Digby Parton took a look at some data from Alan I. Abramowitz, Ronald Rapoport, and Walter Stone about Trump supporters and reached a conclusion that has seemed obvious for a while now. Parton zeros in on the fact that these voters display an embrace of nativism, authoritarianism and economic populism. She adds nationalistic militarism to the list.

I guess I don’t really understand why this is such a mystery. This the profile of Republicans who used to be called Reagan Democrats. They’ve been part of the GOP coalition or more than 30 years. And their views have always been the same. Nativism/racism, authoritarian/lawandorder, nationalist/militarist, economic populists. These are blue collar white people who used to vote for Democrats until Democrats became the party of civil rights, civil liberties and anti-war protests. In other words, the party of black and brown people, gays, and feminists, globalists and critics of authoritarian police agencies and military adventurism.

After that happened Democrats remained more responsive to economic populism although they foolishly muddied their message so that their differences with the GOP were obscured. But it wouldn’t have mattered, not really. People who hold that set of beliefs are Republicans because they do not want to be in multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition where “liberal peaceniks” and uppity feminists are equal partners. The GOP’s fundamental nativism and racism and “patriotic” militarism are the reasons they prefer the Republicans and they are the reasons they prefer Donald Trump. They love him so much because they’ve finally found someone who boldly expresses all those beliefs.

While Ronald Reagan made a direct appeal to these voters via finely-tuned dog whistles, the Republicans began wooing them to their party after passage of the civil rights laws of the 1960’s via their Southern Strategy. Because of that focus, it is tempting to assume that these voters all reside in the South. But as we’ve watched the rise of Donald Trump, it is obvious that they are also to be found in so-called “Rust Belt” states as well as the Mountain West.

Ever since the inception of the Southern Strategy, Democrats have been attempting to determine how they can entice these voters to return to their party. To the extent that their passions are ignited by Trump’s nativist, racist, sexist, militaristic appeal, it is safe to assume they aren’t coming back. That should have been clear from the fact that they were willing to remain Republican despite the fact that the GOP has never supported policies that address their economic populism. But if there were ever any doubts, it is now obvious what is driving their political leanings…it is nothing more than an appeal to tribalism.

It is way beyond time to stop calling these voters “Reagan Democrats.” To the extent that they now support Donald Trump, they make up what we often refer to as the “base” of the Republican Party – a base that has been catered to for so long that it is now threatening to take control away from people who still pine for the days when they were the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 14, 2016

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Reagan Democrats | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Another GOP Kamikaze Mission”: #NeverTrump Conservatives Are Fighting For Him To Reshape The Supreme Court

The organizing principle of the #NeverTrump movement isn’t simply that Republicans should deny Donald Trump their presidential nomination, as Marco Rubio has it, but that they should also deny him the presidency should he prevail in the primary.

Some conservatives’ implicit willingness to essentially throw the race for the White House should Trump become their party’s nominee has understandably raised questions about how thoroughgoing and enduring their opposition to him will prove to be. The other Republican candidates are still promising to support Trump in the general election, and presumably some stalwart-seeming #NeverTrumpers will fall into line as well.

Another, better reason to doubt that #NeverTrump is more than a strategic effort to defeat Trump in the primary—rather than in the general election—can be found in the Senate, where #NeverTrump sentiment is about to come into exquisite tension with the Republican Party’s determination to deny President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a fair hearing.

The tactics #NeverTrump conservatives demand of Senate Republicans are of a piece with the reactionary maximalism that gave rise to the Trump phenomenon in the first place. The person who will determine whether this final act of resistance to Obama will hold together is Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and thus controls whether Obama’s nominee will receive confirmation hearings, fair or otherwise. Grassley faces reelection this year and will likely be running against a formidable Democratic opponent. Obama is reportedly vetting Jane Kelly, an appellate court judge from Iowa whom Grassley has praised effusively in the past. So there’s a great deal of countervailing pressure on Grassley to break ranks from the rest of the GOP—including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds that the next president should get to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

How is Grassley responding to that pressure? By arguing in essence that not confirming Obama’s nominee is a compromise between liberal forces who want the seat filled according to custom and the forces of reaction that “come to my town meetings and say, ‘Why don’t you impeach those justices?’”

This is a microcosm of the Republican Party’s broader failure to cope with Obama’s presidency—which in turn gave rise to Trump, on whose behalf Grassley will apparently risk his Senate seat, fighting to hold the Supreme Court vacancy open for him. Confronted for seven years with wild-eyed derangement about all things Obama, Republicans have responded by indulging rather than disclaiming it.

Grassley was the most prominent senator to vouchsafe the lie that the Affordable Care Act would contain “death panels.” Four years later, Republicans shut down the government in a show of resistance to the law’s implementation. More recently, Republicans have gotten themselves wrapped around the axle by an anti-Planned Parenthood agitprop campaign, orchestrated by people who are now indicted for tampering with government records.

These episodes of ill-fated intransigence define the Obama-era GOP, and they’ve laid the predicate for Trump to take over the party by promising to be a better fighter. The storylines collide on Capitol Hill, where Republicans, who desperately want to stop Trump, are now effectively united behind the purpose of letting him shape the Supreme Court for a generation.

And just as with the Republicans’ previous kamikaze missions—the government shutdown, the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood—this instance of pandering to reactionaries will also fail spectacularly, when Trump loses the general election in a landslide, and Hillary Clinton fills the open Supreme Court seat with whomever she wants.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, March 14, 2016

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Must Be Defeated Through Democratic Means”: Donald Trump Poses An Unprecedented Threat To American Democracy

Last month, I made the case that a Donald Trump nomination would be better for America than the nomination of one of his Republican rivals. I no longer believe that. I began to change my mind when a report circulated highlighting his 1990 interview with Playboy in which he praised the brutality of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. This is not the first time I had seen Trump praise dictators. (He has effused over Vladimir Putin.) But Trump’s admiration for Putin seemed to spring from a more ordinary Republican partisan contempt for President Obama, and closely echoed pro-Putin comments made by fellow Republicans like Rudy Giuliani. Trump’s quarter-century-old endorsement of Chinese Communist Party repression went well beyond the familiar derangement of the modern GOP. This was not hatred of Obama, or some obnoxious drive to stick it to his supporters; it was evidence of an authentic and longstanding ideology. Trump has changed his mind about many things, but a through-line can be drawn from the comments Trump made and 1990 and the message of his campaign now: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak.”

My previous view of Trump was as a kind of vaccine. The Republican Party relies on the covert mobilization of racial resentment and nationalism. Trump, as I saw it, was bringing into the open that which had been intentionally submerged. It seemed like a containable dose of disease, too small to take over its host, but large enough to set off a counter-reaction of healthy blood cells. But the outbreak of violence this weekend suggests the disease may be spreading far wider than I believed, and infecting healthy elements of the body politic.

I remain convinced that Trump cannot win the presidency. But what I failed to account for was the possibility that his authoritarian style could degrade American politics even in defeat. There is a whiff in the air of the notion that the election will be settled in the streets — a poisonous idea that is unsafe in even the smallest doses.

Here is another factor I failed to predict. Trump, as I’ve noted, lies substantively within the modern Republican racial political tradition that seamlessly incorporates such things as the Willie Horton ads and the uncontroversial service of Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who once called himself “David Duke without the baggage,” as House Majority Whip. But Trump’s amplification of white racial resentment matters. His campaign has dominated the national discourse. Millions of Americans who have never heard of Steve Scalise are seized with mortal terror of Trump, whose ubiquity in campaign coverage makes him seem larger and more unstoppable than he is. And terror is corrosive.

Marco Rubio, channeling the conservative movement’s response to Trump, has tried to connect him to President Obama, a figure who is Trump’s antithesis in every respect. Rubio has compared Trump’s rhetoric to “third-world strongmen,” an analogy he has in the past used to describe Obama (“It was rhetoric, I thought, that was more appropriate for some left-wing strong man than for the president of the United States.”) Rubio has fixated on the notion that Obama’s appeals to racial tolerance amount to an assault on white America, even condemning the president for speaking at a mosque. Speaking on Fox News Friday night, Rubio connected Obama’s style to the political correctness found on many college campuses and other left-wing outposts:

President Obama has spent the last eight years dividing Americans along haves and have-nots, along ethnic lines, racial lines, gender lines in order to win elections. I think this has gone to the next level here and you know, we’re seeing the consequences of it and that, in combination with the fact that, you know, I think there’s a need to remind people that the first amendment allows people to disagree with issues and say things you don’t agree with, which obviously is just being lost here. And then this sort of sense now on the left that if you don’t like what someone is saying, you have the right to just shut them down as you see happen on many college campuses across America and you saw tonight there in Chicago.

This is mostly laughable. Obama has condemned political correctness on several occasions, urging liberals not to try to prevent political opponents (even the most offensive ones) from making their case, but to win arguments with them instead.

But Rubio is not wrong to draw a connection between p.c. and elements of the left’s response to Trump. Donald Trump may or may not have been forthright about citing safety fears in cancelling his speech Friday night in Chicago, and disrupting the speech may or may not have been the protesters’ goal. But it is clear that protesters views the cancellation of the speech as a victory, breaking out in cheers of “We stopped Trump!”

Preventing speakers one finds offensive from delivering public remarks is commonplace on campuses. Indeed, more than 300 faculty members at the University of Illinois-Chicago signed a letter asking the University administration not to allow Trump to speak. I polled my Twitter followers whether they consider disrupting Trump’s speeches an acceptable response to his racism. Two-thirds replied that it is. Obviously, this is not a scientific poll, but it indicates a far broader acceptance than I expected.

Because Trump is so grotesque, and because he has violated liberal norms himself so repeatedly, the full horror of the goal of stopping Trump from campaigning (as opposed to merely counter-demonstrating against him) has not come across. But the whole premise of democracy is that rules need to be applied in every case without regard to the merit of the underlying cause to which it is attached. If you defend the morality of a tactic against Trump, then you should be prepared to defend its morality against any candidate. Now imagine that right-wing protesters had set out to disrupt Barack Obama’s speeches in 2008. If you’re not okay with that scenario, you should not be okay with protesters doing it to Trump.

Of course it is Trump who has let loose the wave of fear rippling out from the campaign. And it is Trump who has singled out African-Americans peacefully attending his speeches for mistreatment, and Trump who has glorified sucker-punching attacks on non-violent protesters. This is part of the effectiveness of authoritarian politics. The perception that Trump poses a threat to democracy legitimizes undemocratic responses — if you believe you are faced with the rise of an American Mussolini, why let liberal norms hold you back? The anti-Trumpian glory falls not upon the normal, boring practitioners of liberal politics — Hillary Clinton with her earnest speeches about universal pre-K and stronger financial regulation — but the street fighters who will muster against Trump the kind of response he appears to require. Just the other day, a man charged Trump as he spoke, and came disturbingly close to reaching him. More of this seems likely to follow, and it can spread from Trump’s rallies to those of other candidates.

A huge majority of the public finds Trump repellent. Some of his current unpopularity is the soft opposition of Republican voters who are currently listening to anti-Trump messaging from party sources and would return to the fold if he wins the nomination. But there is simply no evidence that the country that elected Barack Obama twice, and which is growing steadily more diverse, stands any likelihood of electing Trump. He can and must be defeated through democratic means. He is spreading poisons throughout the system that could linger beyond his defeat. Anybody who cares about the health of American democracy should hope for its end as swiftly as possible.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 13, 2016

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Democracy, Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Racism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Sanders Is Exploiting The Trade Issue”: Mirroring The Republican Approach To Obamacare

Some people are suggesting that Bernie Sanders‘ win in Michigan was a result of his opposition to trade deals like NAFTA and TPP and that this will serve him well with white working class voters in the so-called “rust belt” states. Just prior to the debate in Flint, Michigan, Sanders tweeted this:

Both Danielle Krutzleben at NPR and Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune did some fact-checking on the role of trade deals in the challenges faced by cities like Detroit and Flint. Krutzleban begins with a chart showing that the migration out of Detroit started around 1950 and that since then, it has lost more than 60% of its residents. That started long before the trade deals Sanders suggested as the cause of all those abandoned buildings.

Chapman identifies several factors that are not accounted for if we simply look at things like NAFTA to blame. He points out that Michael Moore’s documentary “Roger & Me” about the shut-down of the General Motors plant in Flint came out four years before NAFTA took effect and that the challenge to the auto industry back then was coming from Japan (not China or Mexico), where they were producing more reliable and fuel-efficient cars.

The other issue that hurt Detroit was the migration of auto plants – not overseas – but to states (mostly in the South) who adopted so-called “right to work” laws that undermined unions. Another factor was automation – which reduced the number of workers required to produce cars by a third. Finally, Chapman makes this observation:

Breaking down trade barriers would actually help the American auto industry and those on the assembly lines. One major attraction of building cars in Mexico is that it has free trade agreements with 45 countries — while the U.S. has free trade deals with just 20. Exporting to most of the world is easier there than here.

Bernard Swiecki, an analyst at the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research, told Business Alabama why Audi recently decided to put a factory in Mexico instead of the U.S.: “If they export it, they save $4,500 per vehicle in tariffs they don’t have to pay.”

These are just some of the complicating factors that affected a state like Michigan. But they are paralleled by a look at history that informs us of what drove the manufacturing boom in the United States as well as what is challenging its survival today. To sum up: it is not as simple as blaming trade deals.

What I find troubling about Sanders’ approach to all of this is not simply his avoidance of even a cursory mention of these complex issues. It is more about the fact that he is obviously tapping into the anger and despair that is felt by those who are affected (much like Donald Trump is doing) and then locating a singular culprit on which to focus their blame.

But beyond even that, the one thing many of us have spent the last seven years criticizing about Republicans is their use of anger/fear mongering to foster obstruction. What is totally lacking from Sanders is any articulation of what his own approach to trade would be. In that way, he is mirroring the Republican approach to Obamacare: suggesting that trade deals need to be repealed without offering a replacement. For those of us who think that it is important to get beyond the anger/fear and talk about actual policy that works, that is not good enough.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 10, 2016

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, NAFTA, Trade Agreements | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“From A Pipe Dream To A Train Wreck”: How Donald Trump Sparked An Unprecedented Crisis Among Jewish Republicans

The Republican Party has a serious Jewish problem.

With the party failing to foresee and later oppose Donald Trump’s rise, Republican Jewish outreach faces an unprecedented crisis. The party could end up with a nominee who alienates both Jewish conservatives by breaking with Republican orthodoxy on Israel and Jewish liberals by promoting authoritarianism, racism, and xenophobia.

Jewish Republicans have rested their case for drawing Jewish voters away from the Democratic Party on what they portray as stronger Republican support for Israel. They play to Jewish affection for Israel by disingenuously depicting President Obama as undermining the historic U.S.-Israeli alliance and snubbing the Israeli prime minister. They claim Obama has posed a dangerous threat to Israel itself, both through the Iran nuclear deal and the administration’s efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Because American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal, multi-issue voters, this strategy was always a bit of a fool’s errand. But it could be subverted completely if the party nominates Trump.

It could have been easy to anticipate this predicament. At the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in December, Trump drew criticism for promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes while speaking to an audience of Jewish activists, many of them wealthy donors to the party. He suggested that they might not support him because he wouldn’t take their campaign contributions. He called himself a “negotiator, like you.” He said they were, like him, great dealmakers.

The speech, a characteristic Trump mash-up of insult and purported flattery, at the time provoked a nervous discomfort in the audience, but little tangible opposition.

Even Trump’s promise to use his negotiating skills to reach a “great” peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians — a heresy in conservative pro-Israel circles — failed to produce a coherent anti-Trump strategy from Republicans. The reception he receives at his scheduled speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) next week will be telling.

As his campaign has marched on, Trump has become more brazen with his Islamophobia, his scapegoating of immigrants, and his promotion of “roughing up” protesters at his rallies, who are frequently black.

The Trump campaign also has failed to explain how it gave press credentials to a white supremacist radio host to broadcast live from a rally in Tennessee. When confronted by his refusal to disavow support from the anti-Semitic former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, Trump said, “I don’t like to disavow groups if I don’t know who they are. I mean, you could have Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in groups.” The Anti-Defamation League called Trump’s statement apparently likening neo-Nazi groups and Jewish charities “obscene.”

Jews do not make Hitler comparisons lightly, but increasingly Trump’s rallies, at which he has deployed strongmen and incited followers to violence, are inviting them.

Rather than acknowledge these echoes, though, Trump has derisively dismissed them. After video of Trump supporters raising their arms in a gesture reminiscent of the Nazi salute went viral in Jewish and Israeli media, Trump trivialized his detractors. At last week’s debate in Miami, he called the criticism “a total disgrace.”

In that same debate, in a crucial state in which Jewish support can be pivotal, Trump defended himself with a word salad of some-of-my-best-friends-are-Jewish rhetoric. “I’ve made massive contributions to Israel,” he said, because — don’t you know? — Jews value money over everything else. “I have tremendous love for Israel. I happen to have a son-in-law and a daughter that are Jewish, okay? And two grandchildren that are Jewish.”

Trump’s Republican opponents appear helpless to defend themselves or their party against Trump’s assault on their standing among Jewish voters. The second place contender, Ted Cruz, has strained to portray himself as the most dedicated friend of Israel. Leading a campaign that depends on the support of evangelicals, he has touted his endorsements from supposedly pro-Israel evangelicals. But that comes with its own pitfalls. Cruz has singled out the support of Mike Bickle, a controversial Missouri preacher who claims Jews are “spiritually blind” and must be brought to Christ in order for Israel to be “restored” for Jesus’ return.

The GOP’s 2016 Jewish outreach may have started as pipe dream. It has turned into a train wreck.

 

By: Sarah Posner, The Week, March 14, 2016

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Israel, Jewish Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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