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“No Recipe For Addressing Economic Inequality”: The Republican Candidates Can’t Say How Obama Wrecked The Economy

One of the most striking and mystifying aspects of the Republican presidential primary has been the candidates’ inability—or unwillingness—to offer up any kind of coherent economic prescription for the country. That didn’t change on Thursday night. On the Fox Business debate stage in South Carolina, the remaining GOP field had the floor to rebut President Barack Obama’s rosy picture of the American economy during this week’s State of the Union.

Instead, they pivoted to fear-mongering on foreign policy.

The tone was set with the debate’s very first question, posed to Senator Ted Cruz. Fox Business moderator Maria Bartiromo asked him to respond to Obama’s declaration earlier this week: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

That should have been a softball, ready for the surging candidate to hit out of the park. Instead, Cruz launched into a prepared digression on the American soldiers captured and released by Iran before addressing the actual question—with another digression. “The president tried to paint a rosy picture of jobs,” he said. “And you know, he’s right. If you’re a Washington lobbyist, if you make your money in and around Washington, things are doing great. The millionaires and billionaires are doing great under Obama.”

Cruz played on Obama’s own words on the sources of inequality in his State of the Union. “Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did,” Obama said on Tuesday. “Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts.”

Cruz turned that around, pinning the blame exclusively on the president for rising inequality—not on the wealthy. “Median wages have stagnated. And the Obama-Clinton economy has left behind the working men and women of this country,” he said.

It was like that all night: The candidates never took the bait Obama set up for them, to disprove they are doing anything but “peddling fiction” that his agenda—addressing economic inequality, immigration reform, and energy regulations—has left Americans worse off. Instead, the Republicans beat the drum on fear of ISIS and terrorism abroad, but never provided a counter to Obama’s economic claims.

If the GOP debate revealed one thing about these candidates’ views of rising inequality—a hot topic in the Democratic primary—it’s that they can’t quite bring themselves to cast the wealthy in a bad light.

Ohio Governor John Kasich said that Americans shouldn’t hate the rich—that’s just not American. People are “very concerned about” the economy, he said. “And they wonder whether somebody is getting something to—keeping them from getting it. That’s not the America that I’ve ever known. My father used to say, “Johnny, we never—we don’t hate the rich. We just want to be the rich.”’

Ben Carson shot back at Bernie Sanders and Clinton, who he claimed “would say it’s those evil rich people” who are to blame for inequality. Carson said they’re the wrong target; it’s “the evil government that’s putting all these regulations on us.”

Throughout the night, Republicans proved more comfortable playing to their base’s fear of terrorism than directly rebutting the president’s economic victory lap. Maybe that’s because they can’t muster the same strong descriptive language for how Obama has set fire to the economic world as they have for his foreign policy. So much easier to berate the president on his approach to ISIS all night, as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did: “If you’re worried about the world being on fire, you’re worried about how we’re going to use our military, you’re worried about strengthening our military and you’re worried most of all about keeping your homes and your families safe and secure, you cannot give Hillary Clinton a third term of Barack Obama’s leadership,” he said.

But what about Obama’s leadership on the economy? The answers were more timid—with the exception, not surprisingly, of Donald Trump, who in his usual style promised he’d “make America rich again and make America great again.”

Why were the candidates so quiet about the economy on Thursday night? Simple. The Republicans don’t have a recipe for addressing economic inequality, instead focusing exclusively on tax breaks or highly regressive flat taxes that help the top earners. As my colleague Suzy Khimm has explained, “Bush, Marco Rubio, and Trump have all released tax plans that they are trying to sell as a boon for ordinary families.” That’s a hard sell, to say the least. A conservative estimate of Trump’s plan, for example, would lower the middle 40 to 50 percent of American wage earners’ taxes by 5.3 percent, but the wealthiest would see almost a 22 percent decrease. Carson and Cruz have called for flat taxes—a highly regressive policy.

Because they have such shallow policies to draw on, the GOP finds it easier to play on fears of an uncertain international landscape. That works just fine when they’re pitching themselves to an anxious, unhappy Republican base. But when one of these candidates faces Clinton or Sanders in the general election, the Democratic nominee will easily poke holes through his paper-thin economic message.

 

By: Rebecca Leber, The New Republic, January 15, 2015

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Economic Recovery, GOP Primary Debates | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Lesson In Leadership”: Obama Uses State Of The Union To Rebut Ted Cruz And Marco Rubio Along With Donald Trump

President Obama spent a lot of time in his State of the Union address responding to Donald Trump without naming him. The president denounced the politics of fear, of inwardness, scapegoating minorities, and Trump’s conviction that the United States is undergoing economic or military decline. But Trump did not absorb all of Obama’s jibes. The president drew clear lines of distinction against the other two leading Republicans, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Cruz and Rubio have offered contrasting ideological approaches to foreign policy — and, especially, opposing ISIS. Cruz has revived the isolationist tradition of ignoring the world except for occasionally bombing parts of it to smithereens. Rubio has instead embraced the neoconservative doctrine of using ground troops to project force and promote democratic governments. Obama very clearly attacked both philosophies in succession:

The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage. [Cruz]

We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It’s the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq  —  and we should have learned it by now. [Rubio]

Of course Obama proceeded to expound his internationalist position, before returning to a contrast against both Cruz’s isolationism and Rubio’s neoconservatism: “American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world  — except when we kill terrorists; [Cruz] or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. [Rubio]”

The State of the Union address provided a forum for Obama to insert himself into the presidential campaign and resist the habit of the opposing party’s assumptions about the state of the world to gain currency through repetition. It also showed that he is paying close attention to the Republican race — and not only to the candidate who is grabbing all the headlines.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 12, 2016

January 13, 2016 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Leadership, State of the Union | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Glad You Finally Noticed”: Latinos Are The One Group That Was Onto Donald Trump From The Start

A few weeks ago, during an appearance on CNN, a journalist who works for a conservative website said what many other political observers have been thinking: “Donald Trump is just not funny anymore.”

That is the popular meme that has been circulating throughout the media and the chattering class of pundits, analysts, and anyone else with an opinion and a burning desire to share it. I’ve heard it multiple times in the last several weeks, this idea that the Republican frontrunner is no longer as amusing and entertaining as he was a few months ago but has morphed into something divisive, demagogic, and dangerous.

I don’t know what planet these folks live on. But you can be sure that, wherever it is, there are no Latinos on it.

There are however scores of Latinos in the United States who—because of Trump’s boorish knack for insulting Mexico and Mexican immigrants, literally from the moment that he leapt off the starting blocks and announced his candidacy on June 16 — would say that Trump was never much fun to begin with.

We sure didn’t take much joy from his nativist swipes at Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail and crass insinuations that Bush is a moderate on immigration because his wife, Columba, was born in Mexico before coming to the United States legally and becoming a U.S. citizen. And while we would agree that the real estate mogul can be described as divisive, demagogic, and dangerous, many of us are wondering what took the rest of America so long to figure this out.

For much of the nation’s largest minority—the estimated 54 million people who make up the U.S. Latino population, less than 20 percent of whom have a favorable opinion of Trump, according to polls—the billionaire blowhard didn’t just become the GOP’s problem child overnight. The truth is that he has been that way since the moment he claimed, without a sliver of evidence to back it up, that Mexico was “sending” the United States its worst people—including rapists, murderers, and other criminals.

The media seem to have missed this part of the story. They know that Latinos don’t like Trump, but they don’t really understand just how deep this animosity goes or how long it is likely to last. They must think that Latinos will just eventually get over Trump’s tirades, which only illustrates how little they know about Latinos. When we hold grudges, we think in terms of centuries. So, in all likelihood, Latinos are going to be hating on Trump for a long time.

Let’s start at the beginning. For the first five months of his presidential bid, the real estate mogul was a novelty. This quality made him attractive to Republican primary voters and irresistible to a broadcast media that was starved for ratings and ad revenue. With the subtlety of an air strike, Trump said what was on his mind, without a filter, consultants, or handlers. He didn’t use focus groups or rely on polling before making major pronouncements or suggesting radical shifts in policy. He ripped into both political parties with equal enthusiasm, and called out opponents by name. If there is some unwritten code of professional courtesy that keeps politicians from telling us how they really feel about one another, The Donald didn’t get a copy. In just about every way you could imagine, he was refreshing and even—and dare we say it—fun.

In fact, as if to emphasize that point, the Huffington Post initially featured stories about Trump not in its “Politics” but in that portion of the site dedicated to “Entertainment.” It’s also worth noting that, with few exceptions, and with some early attempts to poke at Trump by repeating and amplifying some of his controversial remarks, the Fourth Estate has, for the most part, been on friendly terms with the presidential hopeful.

I remember the exact moment when this epiphany hit me. It was November 12, and while on the road for a speech I was watching CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” Trump was the guest, and the topic was immigration. The dialogue between host and guest was cordial, and Burnett—who was formerly a financial news reporter—kept referring to Trump by his first name. It was Donald this, and Donald that.

I have a tough time imaging Burnett or, for that matter, anyone else in the media casually referring to other 2016 presidential candidates as “Jeb” or “Hillary.”

Of course, Jeb and Hillary have proper honorific titles that Trump lacks, I know that. But how about going with: “Mr. Trump?” There’s a weird chumminess to it. For the New York media, much of their familiarity with Trump comes from the fact the real estate tycoon is, shall we say, “from the neighborhood.” His spectacular Manhattan penthouse atop Trump Tower is just a short limousine ride from some of the skyscrapers that house the major television networks.

Besides, it certainly didn’t hurt that—even for a Republican—Trump is considered by many to be a moderate on social issues. He also has a long history of contributing to and voting for Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton.

Whatever the reason, Trump spent the first five months of his presidential campaign gliding along on a magic carpet of friendly media coverage. He took care of the media, by being available at a moment’s notice when they called and by consistantly delivering high ratings. And the media took care of The Donald by giving him tens of millions dollars in earned media and handling him with kid gloves.

But then came the sixth month—December—when, after being atop dozens of polls for weeks on end, The Donald suddenly became less fun and more scary.

The tipping point came on the fateful day of Dec. 7. That’s when Trump shocked the country by calling for a temporary freeze on visas for Muslims seeking to enter the United States.

Just a few days earlier, a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, carried out by supporters of the Islamic State, had killed 14 people and wounded 22 others. Worried that elements of the U.S. Muslim community might be in cahoots with terrorists, Trump urged a moratorium on Muslims traveling to the United States until “our leaders figure out what the hell is going on.”

That’s a good question: What the hell is going on? Many Americans really want to know the answer to that question. And they agree with Trump that the Obama administration doesn’t have a clue about the enemy or how to fight it. And, in the absence of any serious and meaningful policy from the White House, Trump has filled the vacuum. In fact, according to the polls, a majority of people agree with the candidate’s proposed moratorium on Muslims getting visas. What sounds controversial to some strikes others as common sense.

But the media and the chattering class aren’t buying any of it. The proposal rubbed them the wrong way. They pounced on Trump immediately. Some insisted that he is a bigot. Others accused him of stoking fears and resorting to demagoguery in order to pick on people who don’t have a voice.

To which, Latinos can only wince and respond: “Gee, you don’t say?”

 

By: Ruben Navarrette, Jr., The Daily Beast, January 4, 2016

January 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Latinos, Mainstream Media | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“What The GOP Gets Wrong About ISIS”: The Positions Staked Out By Republican Politicians Are Crazy

As we come to the end of a year of terror—actually, of horror—and we enter a year of terrible campaigning by some horrible candidates for the presidency of the United States, one might wish the Republican front-runners would step back from the path of religious zealotry, racist paranoia and torture envy. But … no.

As the debates in mid-December and the sparring since have showed us, they are detached from many realities, but especially the reality on the ground in Syria, which I have been covering first-hand with frequent trips there since 2012.

So, now, back in the United States, I watch in consternation the nauseating spin about Radical Islam, carpet bombing, waterboarding, surveillance of everyone, blaming refugees. The Republican “strategies” for dealing with the so-called Islamic State sound like a laundry list of the monumental failures from the 9/11 decade.

Was it “political correctness” that knocked down the twin towers and kidnapped and tortured my friends? No, it was something much more sinister, and something much more sophisticated than these candidates seem to realize, or to be.

There is a reason, of course, for them to deflect questions about military tactics against ISIS. There are no easy answers, and even the difficult options are severely limited. No realistic proposal for tackling the jihadi group will play well with primary voters and all of the candidates know it. Presumably, this is why the Republican candidates have taken the discussion into the realm of paranoid fantasy and insinuation, where they seem much more comfortable.

Consider Donald Trump’s bizarre statement that “we should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is.” Actually, we know exactly where the Islamic State is and have a good idea of where its main bastions are. We essentially already know what is needed to fight them.

The problem is that no matter how good our intel is, there is still the pesky issue of how to take and hold territory, which is a costly proposition. And while ISIS potentate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recently conceded he’s been losing ground, but gradually, he figures that, up against the disorganization of his enemies, and the U.S. presidential campaign is a prime example of that, he will be able to get it back—and then some.

Then there’s the question of torture, or “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and the notion that they could have prevented the Paris attacks in November that killed 130 people.

At a Council on Foreign Relations event Chris Christie said “it’s not a coincidence to me that this happened in the aftermath of restricting these programs and remember also demoralizing the intelligence community. That awful report that came out from the Senate Democrats at the end of last year was a complete political instrument that did nothing more than demoralize American intelligence officers all around the world.”

Using religious language like “Radical Islam” has also been touted as a Republican “strategy” for some time. Such words, one way or the other, have zero effect on the ground.

Ted Cruz’s anti-ISIS strategy is to rename the terror group, which results in a meaningless sound bite, not a strategy. You can rebrand a cancer however you like; the threat it poses will be unchanged. But the “Radical Islam” rhetoric plays well into a broader trend of advocating racial, ethnic and religious profiling by the general public. Cruz’s followers do not hear the word “radical,” as any spin doctor knows. They cut straight to “Islam” as the threat.

When asked if the American government should engaging in profiling, Jeb Bush’s answer was concrete and definitive: “Yeah, absolutely, that is what screening is. We should be profiling. Of course we should. This is Islamic terrorism. The Democrats have no clue about this, or they refuse to call it what it is. These are Islamic terrorists that are trying to take out our country and destroy Western civilization. If you start with that premise, which I think the great majority of Americans believe, then you have a totally different approach on how you deal with it.”

Yet when asked about his military strategy, Bush replied with a platitude: “The main thing we should be focused on is a strategy to defeat ISIS…. Leading the world, funding [the military] to make sure we have a military that is second to none and doing the job.”

When Republicans rally so strongly behind the anti-refugee hysteria, torture and religious rhetoric, it is because they need unifying issues that allow them to attack President Barack Obama and, by extension, Hillary Clinton.

According to Robert Y. Shapiro, a professor of government at Columbia University, the refugee issue is a convenient tool used by the GOP to criticize the Obama administration without confronting military realities.

“I think they want to keep the focus on the refugees since, first, they are a reminder of Obama’s perceived failure against the Syrian government and the conquests of ISIS,” says Shapiro. “Second, they are a reminder of the potential terrorist threat which is an issue on which the Republicans, since George W. Bush, have had the high ground over the Democrats. The current polls strongly reflect this.”

“It is a way of avoiding the tougher issue of what to do about Syria and ISIS,” says Shapiro. The political strategy keeps the focus on the the failings of the Obama administration and its longtime secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

If there is one thing Republicans agree on, in fact, it is that Obama somehow created ISIS. Yet when it comes to exactly why they think that, the reasons are vastly different and completely contradictory.

So, for instance, former New York (9/11) Mayor Rudy Giuliani said in a recent Fox News interview that he believes ISIS is an “Obama creation.” According to Giuliani, ISIS rose to prominence because Obama refused to implement a no fly zone over Syria after the Assad regime’s chemical weapon attacks in 2013.

According to Trump, however, ISIS is a result of Obama’s weak personality and his intervention in Libya, which Trump says destabilized the region. Trump has also claimed that he believes Obama may have directly armed ISIS, and that America should support Russia’s intervention in Syria.

According to Ted Cruz, political correctness is to blame and Obama should try to ramp up the religious rhetoric.

According to Jeb Bush, ISIS is Obama’s fault because he drew down U.S. forces in Iraq, allowing the jihadis to fill the vacuum.

Rand Paul insists that Obama “armed the allies of ISIS.”

On the far-out fringes of the right (whose votes are coveted as well) there are the persistent conspiracy theories that Obama is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that moderate Republican Sen. John McCain met with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, when he visited Syria.

If Obama is a dictatorial warmonger, a secret jihadi or, as Christie puts it, “a feckless weakling,” what Republican could come to his defense?

Yet none can say that Obama is not striking ISIS, because he is. GOP candidates cannot say that Obama has overstepped his executive authority, because this would be interpreted as opposition to the military campaign. The Republican candidates cannot advocate sending in ground troops, because that is an unelectable position.

No one is going to make waves by advocating a no-fly zone, because Hillary Clinton has been the most vocal advocate of an air exclusion area since the beginning of the conflict, long before any Republican candidates raised the issue.

Four years of contradictory statements and shortsighted posturing from the GOP with regard to Syria have made emotionally charged peripheral issues the safest bet when it comes to politicizing ISIS.

A review of Republican positions since the conflict began reveals broad opposition to Obama’s anti-Assad-regime plans and serious criticism of his executive actions against ISIS.

In 2014, John Boehner was quick to criticize Obama’s military actions as unauthorized, but became visibly uncomfortable when asked why he didn’t introduce an authorization to use military force. Numerous Republicans dissented when Obama said he intended to retaliate against the Assad regime for chemical attacks in 2013, and were largely responsible for staying his hand. With regard to military action against ISIS, many Republicans chose to avoid a vote on the subject so they could assess the success of the campaign before risking a position. This is hard to spin as a courageous stance against the Islamic State.

Before the Paris attacks and the current anti-refugee hysteria, the Republican contenders, especially Cruz, had focused their criticism of Obama on the fact that he refuses to equate the Islamic State with mainstream Islam. This is clever, up to a point, because it is vague and draws on a widely held belief among conservatives that political correctness and cultural sensitivity are largely to blame for their unhappiness. Thus Cruz proclaimed, incongruously, “It is not a lack of competence that is preventing the Obama adminstration from stopping these attacks it is political correctness.”

Do the candidates really believe what they are saying about refugees? It is important to listen to the specific words that they and governors opposed to resettlement have been using.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie knows that his biggest weakness is being perceived as soft on Obama, because he worked closely with the president after Hurricane Sandy. In interview after interview, Christie has deflected questions on his refugee scapegoating back to Obama, stating that he does not trust the President to vet the refugees.

During the GOP debates in Las Vegas Christie focused heavily on his involvement with minor terrorism cases as a prosecutor and the fact that he lived in New Jersey on 9/11.

Ted Cruz keeps the focus on buzzwords meant to energize his evangelical base. In a single interview with Sean Hannity, he repeated the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” 19 times. And since the Paris attacks, Cruz has also been sure to repeat the words “tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees” verbatim several times per interview.

Despite all the tough talk none of this rhetoric comes close to resembling a strategy, which is why the GOP has more to lose than anyone from a real debate on military tactics against ISIS.

The fear mongering has been successful turning conservatives against a vulnerable community that had no role in the Paris or San Bernardino attacks. According to a Yougov poll, support for accepting refugees has dropped from 39 percent among Republicans in early September to 17 percent now. The major GOP contenders need issues like refugees and religion to stay in the conversation because they have no clue how to beat ISIS.

In fact, the threat does not come from Obama, refugees, and civil rights, as opposed to from the actual Islamic State. The Republicans give the overall impression that they would increase U.S. military operation and that the Obama administration has no clear strategy. ‘In fact the Obama administration does,” say Shapiro “but it is a much slower long term one… leaving the fighting on the ground to the Kurds and Iraqi forces.”

Most of the actual proposals presented by GOP candidates are basically just variations on that theme.

On the ground in Syria, debates among the Republican candidates have sounded unrealistic if not surreal. It is obvious that ISIS can only be beaten through intelligent alliances and precise military planning. This should not be a great mystery given the fact that ISIS has been beaten before. In early 2014 Syrian rebels forced ISIS into a massive retreat from Aleppo province. I personally had the privilege of visiting parts of Aleppo that were recently liberated. This objective was achieved through military coordination among rebels factions who took heavy casualties.

It’s strange to hear politicians speak about ISIS as though it is some mysterious threat that will require America to change its identity. The leaders and fighters of ISIS are simply human beings, and in battle, they die.

When I hear politicians demonize Syrians and Muslims or advocate torture and carpet bombing, it shows how deep their lack of commitment to the actual fight is.

Syrians are the only people I have ever encountered who have actually stood up to and beaten back ISIS. The 2014 rebel offensive was the most significant blow that ISIS has ever been dealt and it didn’t magically occur when Ted Cruz uttered the words “Radical Islam.” It certainly didn’t come from preventing desperate refugees from settling in America. The biggest defeat ISIS has ever suffered came from Syrians who are the exact same religion and nationality that candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are so determined to turn into an enemy.

 

By: Patrick Hilsman, The Daily Beast, December 28, 2015

December 30, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, ISIS, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Getting Beyond The Racism That Divides Us”: It’s Not Like We Used To Be A Racism-Free Country

Issac Bailey has written that President Obama is the person who should reach out to angry white Trump supporters.

There is only one person who can unite the country again, and he works in the White House. Yes, President Barack Obama—ironically, the man who is the personification of the fear Trump is exploiting—is the one in the best position to quell the anger being stirred up.

This is not something the president can do from the Oval Office, or from a stage. What he needs to do is use the power of the office in a different way, one that matches the ruthless effectiveness of a demagogue with a private jet. Obama needs to go on a listening tour of white America—to connect, in person, with Americans he has either been unable or unwilling to reach during his seven years in office.

As I read this article, I tried to get beyond my initial reaction that Bailey was simply making another Green Lanternism argument. That’s because, as I’ve written before, I’ve watched Barack Obama closely for over seven years now and I think he would at least stop and listen to this advice.

While it has mostly gone unheeded, the President has reached out to angry white Americans on several occasions (much to the chagrin of a lot of Black academics and political leaders). For example, if we go back to his famous speech on racism in 2008 during the whole Jeremiah Wright controversy, he spent quite a bit of time affirming the reasons why a lot of white people are angry.

Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.

But ultimately, to judge the value of Bailey’s suggestion, there needs to be some indication that it would actually work to “unite the country once again.” The first error Bailey makes is to assume that we were ever united in the first place. It’s not like we used to be a racism-free country until all of the sudden Barack Obama came along. Bailey knows that. And he accurately described what’s going on in his very first paragraph.

…we are fast becoming a nation in which minorities make up a majority of the population. As a result, tens of millions of white Americans, accustomed for so long to having all the benefits of being the majority, are scared out of their minds—and it is this fear that Trump is exploiting so effectively.

Bailey’s point is that this fear needs to be aired…at the President.

Let them see their president. Let them speak directly to their president. Let them shout, cuss, fuss and unload if that’s what they need to do. Because no matter how you slice it, the country they’ve long known is dying, and a new one is taking shape. Obama’s presence in the White House, while heartening to many, is the tip of the spear to those fretful about what’s to come.

The question is: does that help? This kind of thing stems from a myth that has developed in our culture that airing negative feelings makes them magically go away. It’s not true. And it is especially not true in large groups where people feed off of each other.

What actually helps people get over these kinds of feelings is to identify the real source of their anger/fear – something that Trump’s style of fear-mongering is designed to misdirect – and then empower themselves to do something about it.

So the question becomes, how do people actually get beyond their racism? If there was an easy answer to that one, we would have solved this problem a long time ago.

Obviously President Obama is struggling with that question. In interviews with Marc Maron, Marilynne Robinson and Steve Inskeep, he kept returning to a similar theme. Instead of a focus on airing our grievances, the President talks about calling out our better natures. He continually stresses the idea that we are better people than our politics suggests. In other words, the way to deal with darkness is not to simply dwell on it – but to shine more light.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 25, 2015

December 27, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Racism, White Americans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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