“Roger L. Simon Gets Racism Backwards”: Racism Made A Comeback Because It Worked Politically For Republicans
I just wonder if Mr. Simon is aware of the psychological projection involved in his conclusion.
Just a few years later, the scab appeared very much healed with the inauguration of America’s first African-American president, a man who would be elected twice. I didn’t vote for him for policy reasons, but his election brought tears to my eyes as a former civil rights worker. America’s long nightmare, as Dr. King might have put it, was over, at least as over as things could be in this imperfect world.
But it wasn’t – not by a long shot. It went the other way. Driven by what I call in my book “nostalgia for racism,” racial enmity was brought back as surely as Michael Corleone was pulled back in in Godfather III.
Power, of course. The Democratic Party relies on the perceived reality of racism for the identity politics on which it feeds. Racism is the lifeline of the Democrats. Votes lie there.
I agree that the explanation for our curdled race relations lies in the quest for power, but not in the way that Simon says.
It was certainly possible to treat President Obama the way that Morgan Freeman asked to be treated by 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace, as a person rather than as a black person. But that’s not the way he was treated. From at least the time of the Beer Summit with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the right chose to attack the president on racial grounds. No white president would have felt compelled to produce their birth certificate just to quell the cacophony of nonsense he was encountering that threatened to drown out everything he wanted to prioritize.
This wasn’t necessary. John McCain showed some actual restraint during his campaign in refusing to make a major issue out of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and in making the decision to dispute accusations by his supporters that Obama is an Arab or a Muslim. After McCain’s loss, however, no one of similar stature stood up to quiet down those same racially charged accusations.
The Republicans were fully supportive of the Tea Party revolt, and the result was the end of Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and 18 Republican candidates for president (not named Trump)’s careers. They were all shortsighted, but they made their mistake because they put their quest for power over their responsibility to show real moral leadership.
I can’t identify a single thing that President Obama has gained by being subjected to this racism, and he certainly didn’t encourage it. I doubt very much that he got any votes out of it, although the Republicans certainly lost a few. On the whole, though, ramping up racial polarization helps the Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives because a racially divided country divvies up the districts in a way that is advantageous for the white party. Racial minorities are much more regionally concentrated.
The truth is, most Republican officeholders probably aren’t all that racist, but “votes lie there” and it takes actual moral fiber to make the decision that some power isn’t worth having on some terms.
Racism made a comeback because it worked politically for the out-party. But it quickly devoured them, and now they’re left with a nominee who all decent people cannot support.
By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 12, 2016
With the Republicans’ Benghazi Committee uncovering no meaningful new information, and with the panel’s investigation effectively exonerating Hillary Clinton, right-wing conspiracy theorists this week had no choice but to give up and find a new hobby.
No, I’m just kidding. They’re actually redirecting their ire towards Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
Just yesterday, I predicted that some conservatives would turn on Gowdy, in whom they’d invested so much hope. The far-right South Carolinian was supposed to bury, not exonerate, Hillary Clinton, I wrote, and his inability to deliver a useful campaign weapon will likely be seen as both a failure and a betrayal.
A few hours later, far-right radio personality Michael Savage told his audience, “Trey Gowdy should be impeached for wasting my time! He promised us a lot! Remember?” (Members of Congress can be expelled, but not impeached, under the U.S. Constitution.)
Of course, Savage isn’t alone. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank explained today that “conspiracy-minded” conservatives are blaming Gowdy “for failing to deliver the goods.” There was a meeting yesterday of the “Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi,” where members agreed the far-right South Carolinian let them down by failing to confirm their beliefs.
A woman in the crowd floated a new Benghazi conspiracy. “Has someone in the GOP leadership gotten their fingers involved in watering down some of this to benefit Secretary Clinton?” she asked. Nobody rebutted this idea.
Herein lies a lesson for Republicans who are perpetually trying to appease the far right: It’s a fool’s errand. They went to the tea party – and now they’re taking Donald Trump to the prom. Likewise, then-House Speaker John Boehner named the Benghazi committee because activists were dissatisfied that seven previous congressional investigations had failed to uncover major scandal material. Now an eighth has produced more of the same – and the agitators are as agitated as ever.
There’s a certain twisted logic to this. The unhinged right starts with the ideologically satisfying answer – President Obama and Hillary Clinton are guilty of horrible Benghazi-related wrongdoing – and then works backwards, looking for “proof” that matches the conclusion. When their ostensible allies fail to tell these activists what they want to hear, they could reevaluate their bogus assumptions, but it’s vastly easier to believe Republicans have let them down.
Wait, it gets worse.
As Milbank reported, a former Ted Cruz adviser complained yesterday that Gowdy “did not draw a connection between the dots.” And why not? According to retired Gen. Thomas McInerney, the Benghazi Committee chairman “had his reasons – political” for holding back.
McInerney “speculated that congressional leadership had approved ‘black operations’ to run weapons from Benghazi to Islamic State forces in Syria.”
This is what it’s come to: Benghazi conspiracy theorists are so creative, and so unmoved by evidence or reason, that they can convince themselves that congressional Republicans are in on the conspiracy.
As Donald Trump and his allies try to incorporate ridiculous Benghazi rhetoric into their 2016 platform, keep in mind who his unhinged allies are.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 1, 2016
It was the sort of story that made Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) look so awful, he managed to even surprise his critics. In mid-April, the far-right governor vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have allowed pharmacists to dispense an effective anti-overdose drug without a prescription. But it was LePage’s explanation that added insult to injury.
“Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” LePage said in a written statement. As we discussed at the time, the governor, in a rather literal sense, made the case that those struggling with opioid addiction don’t have lives worth saving.
“A junior at Deering High School had three Narcan shots in one week. And after the third one, he got up and went to class. He didn’t go to the hospital. He didn’t get checked out. He was so used to it. He just came out of it and went to class,” LePage said.
That’s quite an anecdote, which the Republican governor appears to have completely made up.
The Huffington Post reported yesterday that the principal at Deering High School described LePage’s story as “absolutely not true,” adding that the anecdote doesn’t even make sense – because Narcan isn’t available at the school.
On Monday, the governor again insisted the story was accurate, and pointed to Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck as someone who could verify the incident.
Soon after, Sauschuck also said every relevant detail of LePage’s story is wrong.
Circling back to our previous coverage, Naloxone – sometimes known by its brand name, Narcan – is a safe and effective life-saving treatment that counteracts overdoses. The point is not to cure someone of an addiction, but rather, to prevent them from dying.
The treatment is inexpensive; it’s easy to administer; and it’s harmless to others. Common sense suggests it should be readily available, especially in areas where the addiction crisis is especially acute.
LePage, however, said he’s principally concerned with not “perpetuating the cycle of addiction.” If that means more of his constituents will overdose and die, so be it.
And if defending this posture lead Maine’s Tea Party governor to share anecdotes with made-up details, apparently that’s all right, too.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 25, 2016
“Mr. Trump’s All-White Nostalgia Movement”: It’s Demographic Panic, Not Economic Panic, That’s Driving His Rise
And in a sense, Trump is right. He is building a movement, of sorts, but not the kind that will help grow the Republican Party.
While Trump has won a record number of primary votes, he hasn’t done that by creating new Republican voters. Instead, he’s pulled GOP general election voters into the primaries by exciting white male voters like few candidates since Ronald Reagan.
That’s why, despite his historically bad numbers with non-white voters—more than three in four Hispanics and nearly nine in ten African-Americans don’t like him—Trump has been closing in on Hillary Clinton in national polls and in statewide surveys too, particularly when the white vote share is bumped up as it was in Quinnipiac’s Ohio and Pennsylvania polls presuming a whiter electorate in those states in 2016 than in 2012.
Trump leads Clinton 52 percent to 36 percent among whites overall in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll; a figure driven by his 11-point lead with seniors, his nine-point advantage with men, and his five-point advantage with independents. And while the latter three figures are not broken down by race, Trump’s terrible ratings with nonwhite voters make it clear what lies beneath the top lines.
With Trump’s campaign, America has arrived at a moment that would be familiar in Europe, where ethno-nationalistic parties have surged in countries like France, Belgium and Austria, particularly as the crisis in Syria has driven Arab refugees onto the continent. In the U.S., the drivers of ethno-nationalism are different, but they are similarly related to the jarring impact of demographic change.
The exit polls from nearly two-dozen Republican primaries have yielded lots of data about who the Trump voters are, and the findings belie the myth that their anger is grounded in economic want. In fact, while they have lower incomes than Republicans who supported candidates like Marco Rubio or John Kasich, Trump voters are far from broke—their $72,000 average household income is will above the American average of is $56,000.
They are, instead, more like the profile of Tea Party voters; mostly 45 years of age and older, middle class, and a mix of non-college and some-college educated men and a smaller number of women who believe the country is dangerously off track.
Robert P. Jones of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute has done extensive research into the “why” of the Trump rebellion, and it turns out to have more to do with demographic panic than economic panic.
Sixty-eight percent of Trump supporters believe American culture has become too “soft and feminine”; two-thirds say it bugs them when they engage with an immigrant who doesn’t speak English (just 46 percent of Cruz voters said the same), and nearly half worry about themselves or their families becoming victims of a terrorist attack. Nearly six in ten Trump voters believe the federal government has paid too much attention to the plight of black and other nonwhite groups (vs. nearly four in ten Cruz supporters). And Trump voters overwhelmingly support banning Muslims from the U.S., while a plurality believe Islam is incompatible with American values.
According to PRRI, a majority of Trump supporters agree with the statements that America was better off 50 years ago—when white, Christian men were culturally ascendant, before “women’s lib” and the big victories of the Civil Rights Movement, before busing and affirmative action and the liberalizing immigration actions of the federal government in 1965 and 1986.
Jones calls these voters, who are overwhelmingly white Protestant Christians, “nostalgia voters.” They are nostalgic for the America they believe existed before the tumult of the 1960s; when a white working class man could hold down a blue-collar job and take care of his family, with a secure job for life and a wife who stayed at home, kids who could go to an affordable college, and a retirement padded with a decent pension. Because that is not the America non-white Americans knew, they by and large feel more hopeful about the future, grounded in the knowledge that the country has come far enough to elect a black president.
But for nostalgic Trumpians, who a RAND Corporation March survey found express a sense of “personal powerlessness,” more than any other single trait, the future looks bleak indeed.
That’s why it doesn’t matter what outrageous things Trump says or does. His most fervent supporters want someone who looks and sounds like them but who has the charisma and personal economic clout to shake things up on their behalf. They want someone who makes both a series of connected promises (a wall across the southern border that Mexico is somehow forced to pay for, a ban on Muslim migrants, and no more nation building in the Middle East), and a central one: to put people like them back on top, both here and around the world. With “Mr. Trump” in charge, they figure, the world will look at the U.S. with awe and fear again, and in a way; that means the world will look at them that way, too.
The trouble for the GOP is that for all the passion and fervor of the Trump moment, there simply aren’t enough of these voters left in the population for them to easily have their way. Unlike in midterm elections, when voters of color typically opt out, if turnout rates remain as they have over the last 20 years of presidential election cycles, it will be tough for him to grow his “Trump bump” of around 46 percent today, to above the 50 percent threshold.
Especially since white voters are themselves split, with a plurality continuing to side with Democrats on economic and cultural matters, from union support to the minimum wage to a more liberal view of economics, immigration and culture. Trump may well match or even exceed Mitt Romney’s 59 percent white vote share in 2012, but he’ll likely need something more like Ronald Reagan’s never-since-equaled 66 percent in 1984 to overcome what could be an historic deficit with voters of color, who Pew Research estimates will comprise 30 percent of the electorate this year.
If Trump can do that, it will be a revolution indeed.
By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, May 24, 2016
Progressive pundits across the spectrum have been blasting out a resounding message in the last week: it’s time for Sanders to stop attacking Clinton and the Democratic Party directly. That doesn’t mean Sanders should drop out, or refrain from making his withering and accurate critiques of unrestrained capitalism, Wall Street, and big-donor fueled politics on both sides of the aisle. Sanders can and should continue to push back against the neoliberals and incrementalists in the party and demand that Democrats offer a more visionary and bolder approach, and he should maintain his focus on corralling and curtailing the financial sector–not just the shadow banking industry but more importantly the big banks.
But in truth, the sort of political revolution the Sanders campaign ostensibly has been pushing for rarely originates in the form of a top-down presidential run or Oval Office win. It bubbles up from the bottom.
That’s why, in the wake of Howard Dean’s unfortunate 2004 loss at the hands of establishment Democrats who turned all their fire on him, he recommended that his activists run for central committees and local offices all across America to reinvigorate and renew the Democratic Party in a progressive mold, from the ground up. A large number of those inspired by the Dean campaign did just that, and used their influence in local primaries to push more progressives into statehouses and ultimately into Congress as well. Howard Dean himself made great strides in implementing the 50-state strategy as head of the DNC, ensuring that a progressive message would be heard and that organizers would be hired all across the country.
The Sanders campaign is well equipped to do likewise. For now, most of the attention is on whether Sanders will be able to influence the Democratic Party platform at convention. But that’s frankly tiny potatoes compared to making a difference downballot.
Whether you agree with Sanders and his voters or not, tactically speaking going after downballot primaries is the right approach for a populist base voter insurgency. When movement conservatives wanted to take over the Republican Party from the Eisenhower crowd, they started at the local level and moved their way up. When the Tea Party wanted to overtake the establishment, they began with primaries that ultimately engulfed and ousted even Eric Cantor. That energy has been a boon to conservative politics and pushed the country rightward. It also set the stage for Donald Trump’s run, which has torched a moribund Republican establishment that still looks to the failed decades-old policies of Ronald Reagan in an increasingly globalized and automated world that abuses and discards workers even in developed economies. Trump may be bad for the GOP brand with minorities and women, but his embrace of domestic jobs over corporate profits will ultimately be a necessary course correction and boon for the party.
Regarding Sanders, his backers are unlikely to snatch any primary victories in the short term–and the victories would need to happen for the right reasons to maintain long-term credibility. The big story at the moment surrounds Sanders voters attempting to primary DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on account of her handling of the DNC and perceived bias against the Sanders campaign. However, while she has undoubtedly tipped the scales in Clinton’s favor, Sanders supporters would be better served reinforcing their populist, anti-Wall Street credentials by focusing on Wasserman-Schultz’ defense of payday lenders, instead.
The 2018 midterms will provide a great test of whether the brand of progressive populism championed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren can actually have the lasting staying power of movement conservatism. The so-called political revolution will need to win primaries in open seats, and even potentially supplant some of the most conservative and/or finance-industry-backed Democrats. That would do far more good for the movement’s stated goals at this point, than continued attacks on Clinton and the Democratic Party itself.
By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 21, 2016