mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Behold, The Arsonist Is Here”: How Donald Trump Turned Republicans’ Smoldering Resentments Into A Dumpster Fire

The Republican Party has long faced a simple yet vexing mathematical problem. While there are benefits that come with being the party that represents the interests of large corporations and the wealthy, executives and rich people won’t give you enough votes to win a majority come election day. So one of the ways the GOP has handled the problem is with a deflection of discontentment: There’s an elite you should resent, they tell ordinary people, but it isn’t the people who control the country’s economic life. Instead, it’s the cultural elite, those wine-sipping, brie-nibbling college professors, Hollywood liberals, and cosmopolitan multiculturalists who look down their noses at you and tell you your values are wrong. The best way to stand up for yourself and stick it to those elitists is to vote Republican.

It’s an argument that dates back to the 1960s, but for the first time since then the GOP has a presidential nominee who doesn’t quite get it. Not steeped in the subtleties of Republican rhetoric and the goals it’s meant to serve, Donald Trump is blasting in all different directions, even hitting some Republican sacred cows.

There’s nothing coherent about Trump’s arguments — he’ll say how terrible it is that wages haven’t grown, then say that we need to get rid of the federal minimum wage. But he has taken the core of the GOP’s trickle-down agenda — tax cuts for the wealthy and a drastic reduction in taxes and regulation on businesses — and tossed on top of it a garnish of protectionism, promising to impose tariffs on foreign competitors and initiate trade wars until other countries march right over here and give us back our jobs. He’s even feuding with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Trump’s offensive against international trade is apparently based on the theory that it will help win working-class white voters to his cause, particularly in Rust Belt states where manufacturing jobs have declined in recent decades. And this has his party very nervous.

“Mr. Trump wants to make Republicans into the Tariff Party,” laments The Wall Street Journal editorial page, house organ of America’s economic masters. “He’ll have a better chance of winning the economic debate if he focuses on the taxes, regulations, and monetary policy that are the real cause of our economic malaise.” In other words, stick to the stuff the people in the board rooms care about.

That’s not to say that Trump’s infantile ideas about trade would actually produce any benefit to working people — on that basic point, the Journal has it right. And there have been Republicans who advocated protectionism before; some of them even ran for president. But they lost. The party’s nominee always understood which side its economic bread was buttered on.

All the while, though, the audience for an explicitly economic anti-elitism remained in the party, a product of their success at bringing in whites of modest means with appeals to cultural and racial solidarity. Those downscale voters may have been told that upper-income tax cuts were the best path to prosperity for all, but they never quite bought it. One recent poll showed 54 percent of Republican voters supporting increasing taxes on those making over $250,000 a year, a result that’s enough to make Paul Ryan spit up his Gatorade.

There’s a way to handle that, which is to turn up the dial on cultural resentments. But it has to be done carefully in order to minimize the collateral damage. Republicans always knew that nativism and racial appeals had to be fed to these voters carefully, couched in dog-whistles and euphemisms. But Trump just hands them an overflowing glass of hate and tells them to tilt their heads back and chug. A secure border? Hell, we need to build a 20-foot high wall because Mexicans are rapists. Strong measures to stop terrorism? Just keep out all the Muslims.

Part of what has Republicans upset is that Trump’s nativism narrows the cultural argument down to ethnic and racial identity. They may have condemned “political correctness” to get people upset at liberal elitists telling you what to think, but in Trump’s version, rejecting it means indulging your ugliest impulses, taking every rancid thought about foreigners or minorities that pops into your head and vomiting it right out of your mouth in triumph.

Once you unleash that stuff, it’s hard to pretend that it’s anything other than what it is. So the Republican elites — who, let’s be honest, usually bear more of a cultural resemblance to the liberals against whom they whip up all those resentments than to the working-class whites whose votes they want — look on in horror as Trump ruins everything. He lays the GOP’s racial appeals bare so they can’t be denied, and he can’t even be trusted to keep faithful to all of the party’s economic agenda. If you can’t rely on an (alleged) billionaire to keep all that straight, what hope does your party have?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, July 2, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, White Working Class | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Classic Kindergarten Bully Antics”: Trump’s Narcissism Makes It Hard For Him To Tack To Center

In the weeks following Trump’s mathematical lock on the GOP nomination, the candidate and party establishment have attempted to come to a detente and make overtures toward tacking to center in the general election. We have seen high-profile politicians say that Trump’s political racism and bigotry is an act he put on to win the primary election that he will drop in the general. We have seen Trump himself attempt to use more generically populist pitches than the specifically nativist themes he has consistently used to win Republican support.

But the problem is that Trump’s personal history and personality are going to make it very difficult for him to move into a less offensive general election mode.

Even the most casual observer can see that Trump is a classic narcissist. Like most narcissists, Trump tends to do and say whatever is best for him even at the expense of everyone else. Most importantly, he is congenitally unable to apologize and take responsibility for past bad behavior, or even concede that a critic might have a valid point. His reaction to being criticized is to immediately engage in childish and petty personal attacks against his critics.

The problem with petty personal attacks is that they quickly tend to devolve into bigotry. So it is that when a judge with a Hispanic surname ruled against Trump in the ongoing scandal of his fraudulent ponzi scheme “university,” Trump’s reaction wasn’t to suggest that all the facts had yet to come out, or that the judge had misinterpreted the data, or even that the judge had a politically motivated agenda as a secret liberal. These are the sorts of defenses that people who aren’t egomaniacal narcissists might make.

But not Trump. Trump’s reaction was to slam the judge for the crime of being Hispanic.

Trump goes for the jugular every time to silence his critics by placing himself (in his mind) on a level above them and denying them the right to even dare to judge him, by virtue of some innate inferiority on their part. It’s classic kindergarten bully antics. And in adult political life, it’s almost impossible to engage in kindergarten bullying without repeatedly stepping across lines of racism, sexism, and bigotry. This isn’t just a problem for him as a candidate, of course: it’s a problem for the entire Republican Party, which is aghast

But then, the GOP did this to itself. You can only use dogwhistled racism and sexism to deprive the middle class of its living standards for so long until that middle class stops buying into the hidden rhetoric and the plutocrat-friendly ideology, and starts to want more overt policies designed to help members of their own tribal identity.

It just happens to be that Republican voters picked a narcissist bully who will be constitutionally unable to do what it takes to win a general election. He just can’t help himself.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 5, 2016

June 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, GOP Voters | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Can A Party Divided Against Itself Still Stand?”: For Trump, Unity Is An Unnecessary Luxury

As Donald Trump made the transition from Republican presidential frontrunner to presumptive Republican presidential nominee, one of the more common words in GOP circles has been “unity.” As in, “How in the world will the party achieve anything resembling ‘unity’ with this nativist demagogue at the top of the Republican ticket?”

For his part, Trump has said, on multiple occasions, that he can and will bring the party together. Yesterday on ABC, however, the Republican candidate, no doubt aware of the broader circumstances, suggested that unifying the party may be an overrated goal.

“Does [the party] have to be unified? I’m very different than everybody else, perhaps, that’s ever run for office. I actually don’t think so,” Trump told George Stephanopoulos in an interview that will air Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.” […]

“I think it would be better if it were unified, I think it would be – there would be something good about it. But I don’t think it actually has to be unified in the traditional sense,” Trump said.

It’s an unexpected posture, borne of conditions outside of Trump’s control. Less than a week after wrapping up the nomination, the Republican candidate has stopped looking for ways to bring the party together and started looking for ways to justify intra-party strife as a tolerable inconvenience – not because Trump wants to, but because so many in the party are repulsed by his candidacy.

The New York Times added over the weekend, “Since a landslide victory in Indiana made him the presumptive Republican nominee, Mr. Trump has faced a shunning from party leaders that is unprecedented in modern politics. Mr. Trump has struggled to make peace with senior lawmakers and political donors whom he denounced during the Republican primaries, and upon whose largess he must now rely.”

In a fitting twist, Republicans are divided over the nature of their divisions. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, became one of the most notable GOP Trump endorsers Friday, despite Trump’s condemnation of the Bush/Cheney administration’s handling of 9/11 and the war in Iraq.

Cheney probably wasn’t thrilled about extending his support, but he’s a Republican, Trump’s the presumptive Republican nominee, and apparently that’s the end of the discussion. For the former vice president, partisan considerations are, for all intents and purposes, the only consideration. (The fact that Trump is a cheerleader for torture probably helped tilt the scales for Cheney.)

But the former vice president’s announcement was striking in part because so many other national Republican leaders are moving in the exact opposite direction.

Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have both said they will stay out of the 2016 race and withhold their official support from their party’s nominee. Jeb Bush, a former Trump rival, signed a pledge last year promising to support the GOP’s 2016 candidate, but he’s since decided to break that promise and oppose Trump.

I haven’t yet seen a comprehensive list of every notable Republican officeholder who has vowed to withhold support for Trump, but as best as I can tell, the list would include at least three sitting governors (Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker, Illinois’ Bruce Rauner, and Maryland’s Larry Hogan), three sitting U.S. senators (South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, Nevada’s Dean Heller), and 10 or so U.S. House members. If we include former officials, the list grows much longer.

And then, of course, there’s 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who’s vowed to oppose Trump, and his former running mate, current House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who said Thursday he’s not yet ready to decide either way. Many more in the GOP have offered grudging support along the lines of, “I’ll back my party’s nominee, but let’s not call it an ‘endorsement,’ and for the love of God, please don’t make me say his name out loud.”

It’s tempting to look for some kind of modern parallel for a dynamic like this, but there really isn’t one. The only thing that comes close was when far-right Southern “Dixiecrats,” outraged by Democratic support for civil rights, broke off in 1948 and 1968, en route to becoming Republicans.

Those examples probably don’t offer much of a parallel here – or at least GOP officials have to hope not.

The more immediate question, of course, is whether a party divided against itself can stand. According to Trump, unity is an unnecessary luxury, though if you’re thinking this sounds like wishful thinking, you’re not alone. Given the presumptive Republican nominee’s unpopularity, Trump has very little margin for error, and having a sizable chunk of his party express contempt for his campaign poses an existential electoral risk. Winning primaries in a divided party is vastly easier than what Trump will face in November.

There’s a school of thought, of course, that says all of this strife will eventually pass. Emotions are still raw – the last contested primary was less than a week ago – and the argument goes that wayward Republicans will “come home” by the fall.

Maybe.

In a typical election cycle, this model would certainly apply, but this isn’t a normal year; Trump isn’t a normal candidate; and the scope and scale of the fissures in Republican politics are without modern precedent.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 9, 2016

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“An Extremely Troubling Development”: Trump Picks White Nationalist Leader As Delegate

Mother Jones reported today that William Johnson, chairman of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, is now an official delegate for Donald Trump in California’s upcoming Republican Primary. In order to become a delegate, Johnson had to apply to the Trump campaign with a signed pledge to support Trump at the Republican National Convention. Johnson will vote for Trump in Cleveland, should he be elected by California voters.

The American Freedom Party represents the interests, its website says, of “European Americans” and “White Americans.”

Johnson was behind the widely-reported white supremacist robocalls supporting Donald Trump that flooded Wisconsin phone lines before the Republican primary there. Johnson orchestrated the calls as a publicity stunt, saying in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the time, “I want people to hear, to feel comfortable with, the term ‘white nationalist,’”

In an interview with Mother Jones today, Johnson echoed that sentiment: “I just hope to show how I can be mainstream and have these views,” he said.

The Trump campaign surely knows who Johnson is: In February, Trump said he would return a donation Johnson had given the campaign in October, in response to a question from a town hall attendee in New Hampshire. Johnson has been widely written about as a public face of white nationalist Trump support.

Mother Jones also reports that Johnson included all of his pro-Trump, pro-nationalist political activity in his application to become a Trump delegate.

In 1985, Johnson authored the Pace Amendment, which would have abolished the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution and restricted citizenship to “non-Hispanic white[s] of the European race.” Non-whites of child-bearing age would be financially incentivized to leave the country, Johnson wrote at the time.

In 2010, Johnson said in an interview with the nationalist The Political Cesspool radio show that “The initial basis of our own upstart organization is the racial nationalist movement. It has been in disarray for the last 20 years so there’s not as large a base for us to draw on.”

The Trump campaign’s selection of Johnson as a delegate in the California primary is an extremely troubling development. Trump has widely received the support of the white nationalist community, but this is by far the most explicit endorsement — and this is an endorsement, until the Trump campaign says otherwise — of the racist and nativist ideology.

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, May 10, 2016

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, White Nationalists | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Back To The Future, Way Back”: Trump’s Core Supporters Long For A Bygone Era

For nearly a year, Donald Trump has been pitching a vague slogan: Make America Great Again. Even if we put aside the questions about how Trump intends to do that – and how, exactly, the Republican candidate defines “great” – it’s a phrase that inevitably leads a question about when America was great, if it’s not great now.

Margot Sanger-Katz explained in the New York Times today that Trump’s followers don’t necessarily agree on an answer, but they have a few ideas.

The slogan evokes a time when America was stronger and more prosperous. But Mr. Trump doesn’t specify whether he’s expressing nostalgia for the 1950s – or 10 years ago. That vagueness is reflected by his voters, according to the results of a new survey, conducted online by the digital media and polling company Morning Consult.

When asked to select America’s greatest year, Trump supporters offered a wide range of answers, with no distinct pattern. The most popular choice was the year 2000. But 1955, 1960, 1970 and 1985 were also popular. More than 2 percent of Trump’s supporters picked 2015, when Mr. Trump’s campaign began.

The same Times article flagged a Pew Research Center report from last month in which 75% of Trump supporters said life was better 50 years ago. Most Republicans also endorsed the idea, but it was Trump backers who were the most enthusiastic about it.

I don’t imagine many will find this surprising, but it’s nevertheless a notable validation of a broader thesis. Much of Trump’s core base includes older, white men, who’ve seen generational changes with which they’re generally uncomfortable. Over the last half-century, the United States has grown more diverse; women have made great strides towards overdue equality; and the current role of African Americans and LGBT Americans in society would have been difficult for much of the public to imagine 50 years ago.

It’s hardly shocking that Trump, pushing a nativist nationalism, has supporters who’d prefer to roll back the clock.

As for what Americans in general consider their country’s greatest year, apparently 2000 “was the most popular choice, a preference that cut across political party, candidate preference, gender and age.”

In all candor, without giving it a lot of thought, 2000 was my first choice, too. The economy was booming; there was relative international peace; and the nation’s reputation abroad was sterling and unrivaled. George W. Bush had not yet taken office, which means we’re talking about a time before 9/11, before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, before the Great Recession, and before the radicalization of Republican politics reached a fever pitch.

There’s plenty of reason to believe we’ve achieved greatness since – marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, etc. – and have bright days ahead, but is it really that surprising that so many would point to 2000 as the greatest year?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 26, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | America, Donald Trump, Trump Supporters | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: