mykeystrokes.com

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

“The Threat He Embodies”: Against Fascism; For Honest Conservatives, The Only Answer Is #NeverTrump

From his opening slur against Mexicans to his current coddling of the Ku Klux Klan, Donald Trump has shaped the Republican presidential race into a character test for conservatives. For months too many of the country’s most prominent figures on the right have failed to respond adequately to the threat he embodies. Yet now, as Trump seems favored to clinch the GOP nomination, a growing cohort of principled Republicans is forthrightly proclaiming #NeverTrump – and placing country and Constitution above narrow partisanship.

It may be too late to save the Grand Old Party from the extremist contamination that Trump represents, but it is never too late to stand on principle.

Many Republicans have opposed Trump all along, of course, while supporting one or another alternative on the party’s overcrowded debate stage. The casino mogul was too vulgar, too inexperienced, too empty, too populist, or simply too compromised by his long record of contradictory political positions and alliances. Back when all of the Republican presidential candidates signed that pledge to support the eventual nominee, however, uniting the party behind Trump still seemed possible. They didn’t trust him, but they might have supported him anyway in order to win back the White House.

That tempting path is no longer open for any honorable conservative – and fortunately for America, there seems to be quite an assortment of them, including Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, RedState editor Erick Erickson, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, and Iowa radio personality Steve Deace. Although they held varying opinions of Trump until recently, they agree today that his appeals to bigotry, his despotic attitudes, and his coziness with white supremacists and neo-Nazis are — as Scarborough put it — “disqualifying” for his presidential candidacy.

And while others like Ann Coulter, Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and radio host Hugh Hewitt still promote Trump, to their eternal disgrace, the #NeverTrump conservatives have vowed not to support or vote for him under any circumstances.

Nobody should discount how difficult that stance must be for committed Republicans, especially given the strong likelihood that Hillary Clinton will secure the Democratic nomination. Not a few of them sincerely despise her (and none of them would be thrilled with a President Bernie Sanders, either). Nevertheless they appear to realize that Trump is in a wholly different category from any normal partisan or ideological foe. There is more at stake than a single election, even an election as significant as this one.

It is fair to wonder why so many conservatives didn’t seem to comprehend Trump’s toxic essence from the moment he brayed about Mexican “rapists” in his rambling announcement speech. For too long, right-wing pundits and politicians seemed much more disturbed by his past positions on healthcare, abortion, and guns than his current appeals to racism, xenophobia, and violence. Even last January, when the National Review devoted an entire issue to essays scourging Trump, most contributors worried about his issue positions and electability rather than his demagogic contempt for American values.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party and the conservative movement have not yet confronted the profound problems that Trump did not cause but merely symbolizes. His rise can be traced to the racial undercurrent in the Tea Party movement, the segregationist legacy of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, the Willie Horton tactics used by George H.W. Bush, and the Southern strategy deployed by Richard Nixon – indeed, the whole long history of ugliness not just tolerated but often celebrated on the right. Combined with the coarse, vacuous culture epitomized by Fox News and encouraged by the right’s leading intellectuals, that tainted history made someone like Trump almost inevitable.

Whether the party of Abraham Lincoln can be preserved and rehabilitated in the aftermath of a Trump nomination remains to be seen. For conservatives determined to rescue their movement and their party from fascist perdition, the way forward is clear if painful. Author and journalist Max Boot — who was among the first conservatives to reject Trump for the right reasons — addressed the depth of their dilemma with refreshing candor.

“I’m a lifelong Republican,” he reflected on Twitter the other day, “but [the] Trump surge proves that every bad thing Democrats have ever said about GOP is basically true.” Bitter as it is, that verdict may signal the possibility of real reform someday.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, The National Memo, March 1, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Fascism, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Trumpkins Beware, It Get’s Worse”: Why We’re Segregated On Super Tuesday And How It Helps Explain Trump

The most segregated place in American politics just might be a partisan primary.

The massive racial disparities in voter turnout between Republicans and Democrats help explain how Donald Trump seems to be insulting his way to the nomination. But this same dynamic also underscores how screwed the GOP is in terms of national demographic shifts if they choose to go further down this dangerous path.

Today is Super Tuesday, nicknamed the SEC primary because it includes many states in the Southeastern college sports conference. Contrary to stereotypes, the South is more racially diverse than many regions in the United States. Also contrary to stereotypes, Republicans field a more diverse set of statewide elected officials than Democrats, as evidenced by the presence of two Hispanic senators from the South running for president on the right side of the aisle.

But the good news stops there. The racial polarization beneath our politics becomes clear when you look at who turns out to vote in partisan primaries.

Let’s start with a look at South Carolina—a state where black people make up 28 percent of the population, roughly double the national average.

Hillary Clinton won a massive victory there this past weekend, winning 86 percent of black vote in a primary where African Americans made up 61 percent of the turnout.

A week earlier, Republicans ran in the same state and CNN exit polls showed that black support for Republicans was almost nonexistent—or, in the statistical parlance of exit polls, “n/a”—not applicable.

This troubling trend is likely to become only more pronounced on Super Tuesday. Eight years ago—the closest comparison we have to this open-seat presidential cycle—voter turnout was high but the diversity was also skewed to one side, especially in the South.

In delegate-rich Texas, for example, black people make up 10 percent of the population, but made up only 2 percent of the voters in the 2008 Republican primary. Hispanics made up 38 percent of the Lone Star State population, but only 10 percent of the Republican votes. But in the Democratic primary, black Americans were 19 percent of the vote and Hispanics 32 percent of the vote, respectively.

In Alabama, black people make up 26 percent of the population, but made up only 4 percent of GOP primary voters in 2008. On the Democratic side of the aisle, black voters made up 51 percent of the primary electorate.

The same dynamic was evident in Georgia. Black Americans made up 31 percent of the population in 2008, but only 4 percent of the GOP primary vote. In contrast, black voters made up 52 percent of the Democratic primary turnout.

We’ll round out the sample set with Virginia, where black people make up 19 percent of the total population but made up only 3 percent of GOP primary voters in 2008. On the Democratic side, black voters constituted 30 percent of the primary turnout.

If you’re from the South or have spent much time there, these results may seem unremarkable. But they are a sign of a deeper sickness in our political system, where race is too often a partisan signifier.

Here’s the short version of how this happened in the South: This division is rooted in the legacy of slavery and the Civil War: The states of the former Confederacy voted against the Party of Lincoln for a hundred years (and blacks who could vote were loyal Republicans) until conservative Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Southern Strategy began. White Southern Democrats became Republicans, but they remained conservative populists.

This dynamic was compounded in recent years by collusion between the two parties in the form of the rigged system of redistricting, which gerrymandered the South into white and black congressional districts, rural and urban, driving the Bill Clinton-era Blue Dogs—centrist white Southern Democratic congressmen—into extinction. There are no swing seats left but the racial polarization of the parties in the South is intact, further reinforcing the sense that partisans can simply play to the political and racial base rather than reach out to form new coalitions.

Almost needless to say, this racial polarization does not mean that voters in the respective parties are racist—especially by the standards of a generation ago—but it does mean that the rank and file of our political parties are more segregated than our society at large. And the elevation of Donald Trump to the GOP nomination will only compound these problems.

This primary turnout explains how the rise of a Trump is possible while spewing divisive racial rhetoric: There is no short-term political cost and quite possibly some short-term political benefit in playing to fears of demographic change, cultural and economic resentment and anger toward the first black president. But the long run is all downside.

That’s because partisan primary turnout is often unrepresentative of the overall state. So you can win a partisan primary without having those results be a predictor of how the state will vote in the fall, especially in the case of a crucial swing state like Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, or Virginia. The primaries become the tail that wags the dog: A small number of voters, represented by an even smaller number of professional partisan activists and special interests, get massive attention from candidates trying to win the nomination. If you’re campaigning for the Republican nomination, you can safely ignore diverse communities, but that play-to-the-base path to winning the nomination is a surefire path for losing a general election.

Say what you want about George W. Bush, but he was genuinely passionate about increasing the reach of the Republican Party into communities of color. The foundation of his 2000 presidential run was his landslide re-election as governor of Texas in 1998, when he won 40 percent of the Latino vote.

Trumpkins will point out that The Donald won the Latino vote in the Nevada caucus last month. This is true and doubly impressive/depressing running against two actual Hispanics, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz—as Ruben Navarrette predicted in The Daily Beast. But it’s not incidental to point out that while a record 75,000 Republicans caucused, only an estimated 6,000 were Latino—well below the 27 percent of the population that is Hispanic. Cut this stat with two other facts—President Obama won the Latino vote by 50 points in Nevada and 80 percent of Latinos nationwide have a negative view of Trump—and you quickly pack up any notions that Trump’s Nevada caucus victory is an indicator of general-election strength.

And so it goes. The increasingly narrow base of the GOP, dominated by conservative populists, has created the conditions for a celebrity demagogue like Donald Trump. The absence of a strong center-right or real depth of diversity among the Republican constituency means that the party can be too easily hijacked in five weeks of partisan primaries by pandering to an electorate that doesn’t look much like the America that candidate will have to win—let alone govern.

While the polls show that Donald Trump is primed for a big night, don’t believe the hype: No matter how “yuge” the win, the underlying electoral math is apocalyptic for any party that chooses to not only ignore but insult the growing diversity in America.

 

By: John Avlon, The Daily Beast, March 1, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Partisan Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Conservative Electorate’s Massive Meltdown”: ‘Browning Of America’ Is Tearing The GOP Apart

Before Pope Francis spoke a single word at the Mexican border, Donald Trump had — quite predictably — denounced the pontiff’s message. The real estate mogul and former reality-TV star has built his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination on an ugly nativism, so the moment was tailor-made for him.

The counter-messaging only escalated after the pontiff told reporters that anyone who wants to build a border wall, as Trump has infamously proposed, “is not Christian.” That prompted a retort from Trump, of course: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” he said.
(If the pontiff’s remarks were recorded correctly, he didn’t say Trump isn’t “a” Christian. In other words, he didn’t question the faith to which Trump ascribes; rather, the pope described Trump’s behavior as failing to follow Christian principles.)

Trump-isms notwithstanding, Pope Francis couldn’t have picked a better moment for his message of compassion toward migrants. This presidential campaign season has revealed some unseemly passions roiling in the American electorate — especially on the right; those resentments needed the criticism of an authority figure outside elective politics. Who better than the pope?
Concluding his swing through Mexico with a pointed stop at the border city of Juarez, Pope Francis bemoaned the global “human tragedy” that forces people to risk death to try to gain sanctuary in safer places. He called migrants “the brothers and sisters of those expelled by poverty and violence, by drug trafficking and criminal organizations.”

Not that the pope’s call for charity is likely to have an immediate calming affect. In this country, the conservative electorate is in the midst of a massive meltdown over the nation’s changing demographics. Make no mistake about it: Stagnant wages and economic uncertainty have fueled the fires of outrage, but the flames were lit by a deep-seated resentment over a slow-moving but obvious cultural shift as white Americans slide toward losing their majority status.

The election of President Barack Obama is among the more striking signs of that shift, but there are others: Among the wealthiest and most influential pop culture figures are two black women known only by their first names, Oprah and Beyonce. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, has been hit by protests over its lack of diversity. Interracial couples, and their kids, are routinely featured in television commercials for common household products.

But the “browning of America,” as some social scientists have called it, has not been propelled by growing numbers of native-born blacks, but rather by increasing numbers of immigrants from Asia, Africa and the rest of the Americas. Of those, Latinos constitute the largest and most visible group. That helps to explain why immigration has occupied a central place in this presidential campaign — and why it threatens to tear apart the Republican Party.

Its leaders have spent decades pandering to the fears of those white Americans who are least comfortable with changes in the social and cultural hierarchy. Instead of displaying a leadership that might have eased the anxiety of white conservatives, GOP candidates broadened the old “Southern strategy” to disparage not only native-born black Americans but also immigrants of color.

Now, those GOP voters are displaying a xenophobia that has pushed the party even further to the right — and which threatens to alienate voters of color for decades to come. Even as Republican strategists tear their hair out over the hateful tone emanating from the campaign trail, the candidates, with a couple of exceptions, keep up their harsh rhetoric. While The Donald has displayed the most outrageous bigotry, including a call to bar all Muslims from entry, his rivals have tried not to be out-Trumped. Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, has disavowed a plan, one he once endorsed, to grant legal status to undocumented workers.

President Obama and the Democratic contenders, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have pushed back against the biases oozing from the GOP hustings, but they have no credibility with ultraconservative voters. Perhaps there are still a few of them who will be swayed by the loving and generous message of Pope Francis.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, February 20, 2016

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Pope Francis | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“GOP Take Heed”: Donald Trump Is The GOP’s George Wallace

Tuesday night, following the fourth Republican presidential primary debate, the pundit class will dutifully declare Marco Rubio the winner, extolling his debate prowess with the usual breathlessness. And then, the overnight polls will find that once again, Donald Trump has won the night (with Washington GOP bête noir Ted Cruz likely coming in second), and establishment GOP heads will explode again.

The Trump phenomenon might feel both interminable and unprecedented to Republican elites, but of course it isn’t. American populist politics has a long tradition, from Andrew Jackson to Huey Long to Joseph McCarthy. But the politician Trump is most like could be George Wallace. And if the rumors of an establishment plot to somehow prevent the current frontrunner from getting the nomination are true, Trump could wind up as the GOP’s Wallace in more than just style and bluster.

Back in Wallace’s day, it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were bedeviled by their extremist flank. The Southern wing of the party was in full rebellion over the push for racial integration in schools and public accommodations; over the civil rights laws pushed through by a majority Democratic congress with the help of Republicans and an apostate Southern Democratic president; and even over the war in Vietnam, which drew a spirited investigation by ardent segregationist Sen. William Fulbright of Arkansas.

Wallace ran for Alabama governor in 1958 touting his ability to “to treat a man fair, regardless of his color.” He lost and vowed to “never be out-niggered again.” He ran for governor in 1962, this time as a hard-line segregationist, and won. The new George Wallace was a political thespian, dramatically “tossing the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny” on behalf of the “great Anglo Saxon Southland” and declaring “segregation now and segregation forever.” He staged his “stand in” at the entrance of the University of Alabama in June of 1963 to dramatize the fruitless fight to keep two black students, and their armed federal escorts, out; and ran his soon-to-be ailing wife, Lurleen, for governor when the Democratic state legislature refused to let him vie for a second term.

In 1966, Wallace declared his independence from the political establishment, calling himself “an Alabama Democrat, not a national Democrat,” and adding: “I’m not kin to those folks. The difference between a national Democrat and an Alabama Democrat is like the difference between a Communist and a non-Communist.” He commiserated with conservative white voters, saying both major parties have “looked down their nose at you and me a long time. They’ve called us rednecks—the Republicans and the Democrats. Well, we’re going to show there sure are a lot of rednecks in this country.”

When he ran for president as an independent in 1968, Wallace did so as a pure populist, capitalizing on a segment of the electorate’s disdain for traditional politicians.

His campaign focused on law and order in the face of hundreds of riots in 1967. He declared it a “sad day in our country that you cannot walk even in your neighborhoods at night or even in the daytime because both national parties, in the last number of years, have kowtowed to every group of anarchists that have roamed the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles and throughout the country.”

He zeroed in on white working-class voters’ anxieties over the decline of traditional values, deriding the Supreme Court for promoting a “perverted agenda” that ripped prayer from public schools while concocting a right to “distribute obscene pornography.” He lamented the inordinate amount of time Washington elites spent pandering to communistic black civil rights scoundrels and “welfare cheats” while prying into the affairs of the common white man who just wanted to run his business as he saw fit or sell his home to someone with “blue eyes and green skin” via restrictive covenant if he so chose.

Like Trump, Wallace rose steadily and improbably in the polls, with consistently high ratings for “saying it the way it really is” and “standing by his convictions.” New Republic columnist Richard Strout in 1967 dubbed Wallace “the ablest demagogue of our time, with a voice of venom and a gut knowledge of the prejudices of the low-income class.” Even John Wayne donated to his campaign, which raised most of its money through small donations.

By December 1967, Wallace made Gallup’s list of America’s 10 most admired men, at No. 8, one notch above California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Gallup would later note that Wallace’s support was strongest among those “with a high school background or less” and those who strongly disliked President Lyndon Johnson.

Wallace ran in some Democratic primaries, as he had briefly in 1964. But; his segregationist views had become an anathema to the party of LBJ, and he got almost no votes. Instead he accepted the nomination of the new, far-right American Independent Party, and he chose retired General Curtis LeMay, who wanted to nuke Vietnam, as his running mate.

Though his principal strength was in the South, Wallace also held large and raucous campaign rallies up North; drawing 20,000 people to Madison Square Garden in October 1968, as anti-Wallace protesters clashed with police outside. One Wallace strategist, arch-segregationist John J. Synon, boasted of Wallace’s Northern supporters in a 1967 column: “Who faced down M.L. King in Cicero, last summer [by throwing bottles and bricks at black civil rights activists who marched through the all-white Illinois town]; who takes the brunt whenever there is trouble? Blue collars, that’s who.”

Wallace’s campaign rallies were characterized by intermittent spasms of violence, including in New York, where several of his supporters notoriously surrounded a group of black protesters and began chanting “kill ’em! Kill ’em!” And Wallace, like Trump, seemed to encourage their bravado, declaring at Madison Square Garden: “We don’t have riots in Alabama. They start a riot down there, first one of ’em to pick up a brick gets a bullet in the brain, that’s all. And then you walk over to the next one and say, ‘All right, pick up a brick. We just want to see you pick up one of them bricks now.”

In the end, Wallace’s independent presidential run took more votes from Richard Nixon than from Hubert Humphrey—four out of five Wallace votes would have gone to Nixon were Wallace not in the race, pollsters concluded at the time, and Nixon won by fewer than 1 million votes, while Wallace pulled 9.9 million. Wallace won five states in the Deep South, along with more Electoral College votes, at 46, than any third-party candidate before or since (one “faithless elector” in North Carolina stubbornly cast a vote for Wallace over that state’s victor, Nixon). The results prompted Nixon campaign strategist Kevin Phillips in 1969 to devise the “Southern strategy” to capitalize on Wallace’s popularity with disaffected conservative white voters in the South.

By 1972, it was Nixon and the Republicans who would never be “out-niggered again.”

Wallace ran twice more for president, both times as a Democrat. He finished a close third to George McGovern and Humphrey in the 1972 primary and came in third again in 1976, behind Jerry Brown and Jimmy Carter. But he was returning to a party he had helped break, by accelerating the realignment of the two major parties that began in 1964. Wallace never came close to being president, but his 1968 bid helped kill the New Deal coalition of black and white working-class voters. The Democratic Party was forever changed.

Which brings us to the Republican Party in 2016.

If their George Wallace—Donald Trump—wins the nomination, the party’s die is cast with a message that’s doomed among the increasingly multiracial presidential-year electorate. If he loses but his opponents continue to pander, self-protectively, to the most hateful aspects of Trump’s message, that die is cast anyway.

If he loses, particularly through some convention gamesmanship, and his supporters decide he was robbed of the nomination by a party elite who looked down on him, and on them, Trump could launch a third-party effort of Wallace-like proportions and tear the GOP in two. And that, in the end, is what Republican elites fear most.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, December 15, 2015

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, George Wallace, GOP | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Republicans Created Trump, They Must Stand Up To Him”: They Must Reckon With What Their Party Has Become

Donald Trump made one of the most stunning political statements in recent memory yesterday when he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Campaign spokespeople quickly clarified that Trump was referring not only to a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants, but also to preventing Muslims from coming to the U.S. as tourists and possibly even preventing American citizens who are traveling or living abroad from returning home. (He generously made an exception for Muslim members of the military.)

Trump continues to be the frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary. It’s time for party officials to reckon with what they have created.

Trump is the product of a party that has for decades thrived on stirring up fears of a scary “other” — from the Southern Strategy to Willie Horton to the persistent rumors that President Obama is a secret Muslim or Kenyan or both. The Republican establishment has for years tolerated its candidates rubbing shoulders with the most extreme elements of its base, whether it’s the white nationalists who have spoken at CPAC or the parade of extremists at each year’s Values Voter Summit.

But there are certain things leading Republicans have largely been careful not to say out loud. Until now.

Trump, building off the Right’s campaign to paint undocumented immigrants as dangerous invaders, launched his campaign by announcing that Mexican immigrants were rapists, drug dealers and other criminals. Then, when the news cycle shifted, he shifted his bigotry. He has spent the last several weeks repeating the objectively untrue claim that “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans in New Jersey took to the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks. He suggested shutting down some mosques and refused to rule out the possibility of a national database of American Muslims.

Trump’s relentless stream of bigotry isn’t turning away the far-right base of the GOP. Instead, he remains at the top of Republican presidential polls.

It’s not enough for Trump’s rivals and the party’s leadership to say they disagree with his absurd plan to bar Muslims from the country. They must reckon with what their party has become and, if they don’t like it, speak out forcefully on behalf of the American values of freedom, liberty and pluralism. It’s not enough for them to reject one outrageous plan. They must speak out against bigotry and prejudice. And they must make clear that even if Trump were to become the party’s nominee, he would be on his own.

The Republican Party created Trump. Now it’s time for them to take responsibility and, if they don’t like what Trump is saying, take a strong stand for what is right.

 

By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For the American Way, The Blog, The Huffington Post, December 8, 2015

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, GOP Voters | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: