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A family secret

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wallace

For the past 50 years, ever since Richard Nixon realized that the civil rights movement presented a golden opportunity to peel the South away from the Democrats, conservative elite opinion has been in a state of continual denial about the fact that the electoral success of the contemporary Republican party depends to a great extent on catering to and energizing a base that contains a high percentage of racists.

Part of this denial has manifested itself in trying to de-legitimize critiques of contemporary American racism by labeling all such critiques as nothing more than hyper-sensitive “political correctness” and the like, as if “racism” had come to mean nothing more than, say, doubts about the efficacy of affirmative action, as opposed to an enduring belief in white supremacy. Donald Trump’s campaign is piercing that denial, which is why so many conservative intellectuals are so enraged by his success:

Conservatives have treated him as an alien force. Trump is “a pro-abortion liberal masquerading as a conservative, who preys on nationalistic, tribal tendencies and has an army of white supremacists online as his loudest cheerleaders,” as Erick Erickson puts it, or “a pro-gun control, pro-single-payer health care, pro-eminent domain, pro-abortion, and pro-statism liberal,” in Rick Wilson’s terms. Commentary’s Noah Rothman complains that Trump “counts as allies the bigoted and the bloodthirsty.” One might conclude from these reactions that Trump chose the Republican party purely by accident, and that Republican voters have chosen him out of confusion.

In reality, the tendencies on display in Trump’s campaign have constituted a large and growing element of Republican politics. Figures like Strom Thurmond and George Wallace led white Southerners out of the Democratic Party and brought white populist politics into the GOP. Simultaneously, the party’s genteel northern liberal tradition has withered. These trends accelerated during the Obama years. Social scientist Michael Tesler has found that white racial resentment, which has grown steadily as a driving factor in the partisan realignment, has taken on a dramatically greater role in shaping partisan views. White racism is a far greater determinate of Republican loyalty than ever before. A rigorous study originally conducted in 2013 found that the most slave-intensive southern counties in 1860 have the most conservative and Republican white populations today. Recent work by Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler finds that authoritarian psychology has also driven much of recent polarization.

I discussed both of these findings, among others, in a story on Obama and race two years ago, and even though the study criticized much of the left’s treatment of race during the Obama years, conservatives dismissed these findings. Their sensitivity is understandable. Conservatism, and the modern Republican party, is the lineal heir of a historically continuous defense of white racial hierarchy that has been written out of the American civic tradition. While conservatism has perfectly non-racist basis in theory — and a great many people subscribe to it without harboring racial motives of either the open or the covert kind — it is simply a fact that white racial fears supply a large proportion of real-world Republican votes. Conservatives, with very few exceptions, refuse to grapple with this reality. They prefer to treat racism as lying completely outside of, or even antithetical to, the American conservative tradition. Intellectuals on the right also habitually dismiss the entire theory of the authoritarian personality as biased claptrap designed to pathologize them.

Yet now they find these studies seem to have a familiar ring.

Understanding racism — that is, a belief in and commitment to, white supremacy — is central to understanding both American history, and America today, but much of American culture and politics remains in a state of denial about the national family secret: a secret that everyone knows, but which must never be mentioned in polite company. Now Donald Trump is exploiting that denial and repression to maximum effect. And Trump’s authoritarian personality is hardly incidental to his success: it is integrally related to his paranoid, nativist, and fundamentally racist message.

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  • jim, some guy in iowa

    so what are they going to do about it? give up the pretense of being anything but what they are, or- ?

  • Heron

    Yup. Just like how pundits continue to be so “surprised” by Trump out performing Cruz, the Cuban, among self-proclaimed “Evangelicals”. You can take the Cuban out of the Kid, but you can’t take the bilious racial hatred out of Neoconfederate voters.

    • AMK

      “evangelicalism” is white nationalism for people too dumb to grasp modernity but socially concious enough to understand that “christian values” is a safer slogan than “segregation now, segregation forever.” Always has been. The mainstream media is just having a much harder time this cycle pretending otherwise.

      • DrDick

        While “evangelicalism” is rather more complicated than that (it is also emphatically anti-modernity), there has always been a large element of racism among white evangelicals. There are also large numbers of socially conservative black evangelicals, though they are generally more likely to vote Democratic. Ben Carson is from exactly this tradition, as are a number of other black Republicans.

        • Thirtyish

          Agreed. White racism is an integral aspect of evangelical protestantism in this country, but it’s not the only one. There are white evangelicals who–let’s face it–probably *are* racist to a considerable degree, but they don’t necessarily have that as the most salient aspect of their religious and personal identity; Irk Irksome is an example of this type of evangelical. I have no doubt in my mind that he’s racist, but that aspect of his worldview takes a backseat to his patriarchal and pro-GOP machine views. But there is a contingent among evangelicals who definitely do regard their white supremacist ideology as *the* critical aspect of their identity, and they’re the ones that the conservative punditry has carefully tried to control for decades.

          • CP

            True.

            I think for conservatives, religion, like race, is primarily a marker of tribal identity. For the most part, the two identities overlap (i.e. most fundiegelicals are white) so we don’t notice. But it’s not completely universal. I’ve been to fundiegelical churches that are genuinely among the most racially integrated places I’ve ever been… but God help you if you’re Muslim, or atheist, or any kind of non-Christian, or Mormon, or Catholic, or the wrong kind of Protestant.

          • AMK

            Identity….that’s the core issue. After the civil rights movement, millions of white Americans (particularly in the south and the midwest) could no longer find outspoken public solace in the idea of of “whiteness” as the defining aspect of who they are–and what America is. This is a problem for many of them, because they always defined themselves as whites in relation to blacks. And they don’t have distictive ethnic traditions that mark other groups of white people in the coastal & urban areas (Irish, Jews, Italians) as a fallback.

            Some of them (like people in all groups) are smart/educated/aware enough to realize that such tribalism is a fundamentally stupid facade. But millions of others need to be something. So what are they? They’re Christian! Real Christians, unlike the people who forced them to go to school with blacks. Did you know America is supposed to be a Christian nation for Christians like us? And so it goes….white nationalism by another name.

            • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

              Back in 2008-2009, Bill O’Reilly let the cat out of the bag, but I am not sure anyone noticed but me. It may have been lost in all the flying feces.
              But I remember him saying that Obama wanted to destroy “the white Christian power structure in America.” I found it remarkable that he felt no compunction to say that aloud. But then it is Fox News.
              That is why I say that it is at least as much cultural as racial. Race is an easy cultural marker.
              But, they are conservative cultural supremacists.
              Or mostly-White Christian Conservative supremacists. They have no problem with the nice Black or Hispanic family that goes to their church. But they they want all the “illegals” sent back to where they came from.
              I do think that many yearn for that imaginary past when gays, minorities and women “knew their place.”

    • twbb

      I don’t buy it; I think most of them don’t even see him as hispanic, and anyway a huge chunk of those types would like the idea to vote for someone (sort of) non-white, because they think they’d be throwing racism accusations back in the face of those effete liberals who are always accusing them of it.

      Elizabeth Bruenig has a pretty good point I think; evangelicals don’t make one big huge bloc but represent very different demographics, and Cruz did get the group that a lot of us picture when we think “evangelical”:
      https://newrepublic.com/article/130422/ted-cruz-lost-evangelical-vote

      A lot of people in the South especially I think claim they’re evangelical because of a combination of cultural norms and just aspirational ideals, but don’t live it day-to-day; plenty of self-proclaimed evangelicals rarely go to church, for example:

      http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/may/how-americans-exaggerate-church-attendance-differently-prri.html

      • BiloSagdiyev

        A lot of people in the South especially I think claim they’re evangelical because of a combination of cultural norms and just aspirational ideals, but don’t live it day-to-day; plenty of self-proclaimed evangelicals rarely go to church, for example:

        That they feel compelled to fake it or lie about it is still a hint as to what kind of environment they’re in. The odds of an atheist living “out” in the southeastern Ungovernable Tribal Regions are not very high, I must say.

  • Mike in DC

    Well, 25% of whites support reparations in some form, so at least there’s an upper bound to the clarion call of race-baiting. I guess that’s the corollary to the 27% rule: at least 25% of people are fundamentally sane and decent.

    But, y’know, Robert Byrd!

    • Norrin Radd

      Even Democrats have some thinking to do. That BlackLivesMatter protest against Hillary Clinton last night was something else: “We have to bring them to heel.”

      Hillary was just so callous and imperious. I’ve never seen someone who feels so entitled to the presidency. She couldn’t even give that poor girl a hug. She couldn’t even say, “No, you’re not a super predator”.

      • twbb

        In those kinds of situations she’s in a no-win situation. She doesn’t do much, she’s cold and unfeeling. She does too much, she looks easily intimidated.

        • Steve LaBonne

          But none of it will make the slightest dent in her support from African-American voters.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          I think she also fears that doing certain things would lose her, you know, white blue collar voters. Say, is Sister Souljah ready for a comeback?

  • Karen24
    • Paul Campos

      I’m going to post about that tomorrow. Thanks for flagging it.

      • Karen24

        You’re welcome. I’m looking forward to your piece tomorrow.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Like many of BooMan’s pieces, posted in two places — with significantly different comments as a result.

      • Norrin Radd

        Its worth remembering that Trump won the Latino vote in Nevada by a country mile. If I’m not mistaken his share of the Latino vote nearly equaled the combined share of Cruz and Rubio both. That’s saying some shit. Navarette had a good piece on this.

        Finally, while many in Washington will often try to compare Latinos with African-Americans as another aggrieved minority that has endured everything from inferior schools to overt discrimination to economic inequality, there is a competing line of thought that suggests Latinos are more comparable to other Catholic immigrant groups, like the Irish and Italians.

        Now, here’s what happened in Nevada. The Latino community in the United States—and especially the nearly 70 percent of that population that is Mexican or Mexican-American—is highly aspirational. They don’t settle. They want better lives for themselves and their children. They want success.

        They don’t hate Trump. They want to be Trump.

        • joe from Lowell

          He won the share of the Latino vote that takes part in the Republican caucuses. I wouldn’t to advancing a theory about Latinos broadly from that observation.

          • Gwen

            Shorter answer: “Yes Trump did well among Latino Republicans. All five of them.”

            • ColBatGuano

              I’m confused why so many people are having trouble with this simple fact.

              • ajay

                True. Here’s Nate Silver:
                “It’s probably worth re-emphasizing how few Hispanics have actually voted for Donald Trump so far. In Nevada, 8 percent of the turnout was Hispanic, according to the entrance poll, and 45 percent of those Hispanics voted for Trump. Based on a caucus turnout of about 75,000 Nevadans, that works out to about 2,700 Hispanics in a state that has around 800,000 of them.”

                • John F

                  Yes Nevada is 26.5% Hispanic per the 2010 Census (a little less than half, 12.1%, are “white Hispanics”)

                  So 8% Hispanic turnout in te GOP Caucus, out of 26.5% is pretty close to what the vote the GOP generally gets among Hispanics nationally (27-35%)

  • AMK

    “I’m just like David Duke, but without the baggage”

    –House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, describing why his constituents should vote for him

    http://m.dailykos.com/story/2015/9/25/1424856/–David-Duke-without-the-baggage-to-run-for-House-majority-leader

    • on first look, I read this as “I’m just like David Duke, but without the ballgag”

      Perhaps I need new contacts….

      • efgoldman

        Perhaps I need new contacts….

        Or new handcuffs….

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Hmmm… David Duke deserves two wetsuits and a dildo, too.

  • gratuitous

    Gosh, but doesn’t Donald Trump just have the worst luck! He’s got so many friends in the black community, they just love him, really. Terrific friends, and he’s really close with them. He’s yuuuge in Harlem. But for some mysterious reason, he keeps attracting the support of David Duke and other racists. It’s just unbelievable!

    • Norrin Radd

      He actually does have a quite a few friends in the black community. There’s going to be some heated discussions over that. This shouldn’t be surprising. He’s won the Latino and the woman’s vote. He’s probably won the black and the Muslim vote too.

      • efgoldman

        He’s won the Latino and the woman’s vote. He’s probably won the black and the Muslim vote too.

        Yeah, the few dozen self-haters who characterize themselves as Republiklowns.

      • Malaclypse

        Which one of us is drunk? Because I understand all of the words you used, but I don’t understand what you wrote at all.

  • AMK

    a great many people subscribe to it without harboring racial motives of either the open or the covert kind……

    Bullshit. It is of course theoretically possible to be a modern “conservative” without racism the way it is “theoretically possible” to “win” a nuclear war or (more on-point) it is “theoretically possible” for the Trump campaign to be “not racist” because his Mexican deportation/Muslim ban plans only apply to non-citizens. But to say that a “great many people” actually think this way is to traffic in fantasies.

    • Aaron Morrow

      It’s still a big step for even-the-racism-denying-Jonathan-Chait to go as far has he does in this piece, given that he thinks that political correctness is the greatest threat to liberalism.

      What’s the opposite of a canary in a coal mine?

      • sparks

        Something that belches rising damp?

      • efgoldman

        What’s the opposite of a canary in a coal mine?

        The Balrog?

        • N__B

          Smaug?

    • UserGoogol

      One of the fundamental facts of politics is that most people don’t think that much about politics, on a level which people who think a lot about politics have trouble grasping. As such, it’s incredibly easy for people to support policies which will flagrantly hurt people of color without being driven by explicitly racial motives.

      • AMK

        I should clarify something: many people who are not so politically engaged can vote Republican for one reason or another without being “racist” to any appreciable degree. But as far as self-identified movement “conservatives” go, the idea that there are masses of colorblind Jack Kemps walking around is extreme wishful thinking.

        • DrDick

          Pretty much and I would argue that a large portion of the disengaged voters are also motivated by racist factors, though they are no conscious of it.

      • efgoldman

        it’s incredibly easy for people to support policies which will flagrantly hurt people of color without being driven by explicitly racial motives.

        Methinks you’re giving those people more credit than they deserve.

    • LWA

      It is possible to harbor racist views at the subconscious level, like where people yearn for a golden age, that just happens to overlap with the Jim Crow era.

      They want to paint a picture of a society that lacked some of the features of modernity like same sex marriage and affirmative action, yet was just and good.

      So they have this weird muddled message, crafting an image of a future where all Mexicans happily and safely gather and walk back over the border, and black people voluntarily hitch up their droopy drawers and get jobs (but not mine, heh heh), and women dress hot, but not too hot, and not in a way that makes men rape them.

      They know on some level that to return to the ideal age is to inflict horrific cruelty and suffering on these people, but they are too timid to say it, even in their own heads.

      • DrDick

        I think pretty much all conservatives fall into this category.

      • Cheap Wino

        So they have this weird muddled message, crafting an image of a future where all Mexicans happily and safely gather and walk back over the border, and black people voluntarily hitch up their droopy drawers and get jobs (but not mine, heh heh), and women dress hot, but not too hot, and not in a way that makes men rape them.

        There are plenty of variations of excuses for racism, sexism, and other affronts to liberty. But, for example, those rapes had always happened. It was the fabrication of ‘dressed too hot’ that gave license to assign blame that hadn’t previously been required. It’s not as if rapes didn’t happen before women started wearing shorts or the invention of the skirt. All the participants in the lie know the score. It’s only the crafting of the good enough excuse that matters.

        Our society is slowly but surely exposing its ugly racist, sexist underbelly and the provincialists are constantly searching for excuses to oppose that progress. The reason political correctness became an issue is that it works so well as a wall against addressing those deep seated race, class and gender problems that plague us. The people buying into the GOP angle aren’t confused, they’re searching for excuses to justify their selective empathy.

  • FFFFFFIIII

    Holy shit, Trump/45 Rubio/19 Cruz/16 in GA. SurveyUSA is a damn good pollster too. If this holds, it’s over.

    http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=4bbed8ac-c9f0-4ef1-a64e-584123cee583&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    • FFFFFFIIII

      ETA: Oops, got that completely wrong. Half of the Trump supporters had already voted.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Georgia has early voting in primaries?

  • Dilan Esper

    I think it is wrong to talk about this as if conservatives are in denial about the racism of their base. That misses the way the Southern Strategy works.

    The poiht of the Southern Strategy is NOT to go 100 percent full-bore George Wallace “segregation now segregation tomorrow segregation forever”. That isn’t how it works. First of all, a lot of conservative elites would find such arguments personally distasteful (the whole thing about the strategy is that it isn’t the elites who are personally racist, but the base), and second of all, they know it could cost them a ton of moderate voters to mouth it openly.

    Rather, the point of the Southern Strategy is to try to use savvy political messaging to CO-OPT racists, with dog whistles and subtle and unsubtle hints, such as Reagan opening his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and Republicans pushing issues such as Willie Horton.

    So it isn’t that conservatives aren’t aware or are in denial that the base is full of racists. It’s that THEY CAN’T ADMIT IT. The first rule of Fight Club is that nobody talks about Fight Club, and the first rule of making subtle appeals to racist voters is that nobody talks about making subtle appeals to racist voters. The moment you admit that your coalition is full of racists, there goes your coalition– the racists don’t like to be called racists, and the non-racists don’t like to vote for the “racist” party.

    • Brien Jackson

      And to add to this, GOP pundits and strategists have been semi-openly expounding the virtues of making the Republican Party explicitly the white people’s party since at least the 2010 midterms. I remember multiple arguments that Romney was going to beat Obama by expanding Republican’s share of white voters while also growing the white share of the electorate over 2008.

      • Denverite

        See below. He also voted for Obama in 2008.

    • Denverite

      The moment you admit that your coalition is full of racists, there goes your coalition– the racists don’t like to be called racists, and the non-racists don’t like to vote for the “racist” party.

      Uh huh. I’ve said for about a billion years that the whole point of Republicans making token gestures to minorities (mostly African-Americans) isn’t to get minorities to vote for them. They won’t. It’s to make Republican-leaning whites comfortable that they’re not voting for a racist party.

      I call this the “Denverite’s dad” test. He’s well-educated, well-off (now — we weren’t for large swaths of my childhood), and generally pretty moderate. He’s also a 60-something white male from a Confederacy state, which means he almost always votes Republican. The only time he doesn’t is when the dog whistles become audible. Then he’ll vote Democratic. He’s already said that there’s no way in a million years he’ll vote for Trump.

      • joe from Lowell

        I saw this described once as the Bank-Shot Pander.

        • joe from Lowell
          • Cheap Wino

            Oohh, excellent! Nice straight up punk circa 1983 style. Thanks.

            • joe from Lowell

              Ska-punk, puh-lease!

    • NewishLawyer

      I definitely think that a lot of the GOP screaming that this is all the fault of liberals is because they know what they created but can’t admit it. Your analysis of the Siuthern Strategy might be correct but the backfire is now. Republicans sowed the wind and reap the whirlwind.

      But they just can’t admit it!!!

      • Davis X. Machina

        Nor should they have to.
        Because Robert Byrd…

      • twbb

        I wonder, would they do anything differently if they knew what would happen? Possibly not; Nixon might said “eh, 50 years of advantage followed by a backlash? Sounds like a good trade.”

      • The Pale Scot

        Siuthern Strategy

        Slitheen Strategy, FTFY

        If only they could get back to Raxacoricofallapatorius

        Slitheen are a ruthless criminal sect whose main motivation is profit.

        Until then, break out the vinegar.

        • Hogan

          Or perhaps the Slytherin Strategy, where you enforce blood purity by deploying a basilisk against the Muggle-born.

      • libarbarian

        Yup. Listen at Rush L. talk about Trump. You can tell that he isn’t a fan but he won’t openly say anything against him because he knows his and Trump fan-bases overlap a great deal.

    • burritoboy

      I don’t know if that’s true. During my own history as a conservative (oh so long ago in my misspent youth), my experience was that, while everybody knew that some stone racists had signed up, we conservatives mostly were hoping that the bulk of Southerners were joining for the right reasons (more or less). Yes, in the light of later events we were fooling ourselves but there was a considerable amount of really existing self-delusion. Most of conservatives that I knew were primarily driven by anti-communism (of course, my experience is anecdotal, so who knows what I would have seen in a different milieu.) Many (though not all) were repelled by open racism.

      The problem with Trump’s dropping of the pretense is now everybody straightforwardly knows how much of the conservative base is there exclusively for the racism. We liberals really didn’t have proof before this – precisely because all the major politicos before Trump were quite intentionally careful and shaded in their rhetoric. You never could quite pinpoint exactly how much of any conservative electoral success was coming from stone-cold white supremacists, even though everyone (conservatives and liberals alike) knew it was some level of support. But how much? You couldn’t exactly say before now and for a long time previously (probably between the early 1960s and 2016).

      Now, essentially, we know. It was getting very hard to deny before, but now we know.

      • CP

        Now, essentially, we know.

        Yep. And the answer is: it’s a the biggest chunk of the voter base by far, if not a majority certainly a plurality. The liberals were right all along.

      • efgoldman

        Most of conservatives that I knew were primarily driven by anti-communism

        At least openly. But surely a large number had read and agreed with Slithertongue Buckley.
        But once the Soviet Union and Iron Curtain imploded, there had to be a new consensus. And it’s very hard to get the roiling coal / traitor flag crowd all excited about capital gains and marginal tax rates. Then we had the temerity and gall actually to put a ni[clang] in the White House… a perfect storm!

        • CP

          Let’s also note that America’s racists, sexists, robber-barons and other privilege-hoarding buttheads have been cloaking their agenda in the cause of anti-communism since forever. Or to be slightly more charitable, a lot of conservatives have let themselves be convinced that every social movement that’s a threat to their precious social order and hierarchies of How Things Ought To Be is a communist plot. J. Edgar Hoover’s obsession with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, Barry Goldwater’s obsession with Walter Reuter and labor unions, you name it, all patriotically sold as vital fronts in the war on communism.

          TL/DR, even identifying one’s politics as “primarily driven by anti-communism” implies something more when you’re in a country whose scumbags have an exceptionally rich history of saying “communism” when they really mean “democracy.”

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Yes. Also, I concluded a few years ago that for these people, the whole world is nis, and their siege mentality of, “We’re the good Christian people! Surrounded by a world of darkness! You know, DARKNESS! Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge? So we need a lot of guns and bibles to defend our way of life!” translates from Mississippi to the big wide world very quickly.

            For these people, be it Communism or the United Nations or the League of Nations, the world is full of foreigners.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              Oops. nis = n(CLANG) in plural form.

      • guthrie

        Surely part of it is the economic effects of the last 30 years, so racism would grow as a side effect of the loss of advantage enjoyed by these conservatives?

    • efgoldman

      the racists don’t like to be called racists, and the non-racists don’t like to vote for the “racist” party.

      You feeling OK, Dilan? You’re making perfect sense.

      • The Dark God of Time

        “We’ve replaced Dilan Esper with Folger’s Coffee Crystals, let’s see if anyone can tell the difference…….”

  • joe from Lowell

    I think about Niki Haley, or Brian Sandoval, or Tim Scott. These people are trying to make the party a more diverse, less racist place. At least they’re trying. Maybe they thought they were making some progress.

    Now Trump.

    • LWA

      Whenever I see a Nikki Haley or Ben Cason or Tim Scott at the GOP I think of that scene in Animal House, where they steer the two nerds to the corner…”Here are some people I think you should meet..”

      • joe from Lowell

        Right…a blind guy, an Indian guy, and Flounder, IIRC.

        • Lee Rudolph

          So, Joe, what did the bartender say?

          • N__B

            “Secretary Kerry, why the long face?”

    • Davis X. Machina

      These people are trying to make the party a more diverse, less racist place.

      Or people who can spot the shortest line for a teller at the bank.

    • Sly

      I’m pretty sure Ana Navarro falls asleep nowadays by loudly cursing until she’s exhausted.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      I look at certain GOP politicians like Nikki Haley and see a very nice smile, really opportunists who know that if they had become Democratic politicians, nobody would give a damn about the diversity they added to the party and they wouldn’t stand out.

  • NewishLawyer

    I think the rise of Trump exposes a few things:

    1. The GOP has been quietly stroking racism for decades and now the beast wants raw meat. Trump as Herrenvolk democracy but Erik son of Erik can’t admit this because it is tantamount to saying conservatism failed. The pundit reaction to Trump is very much a no enemies on the right mindset, put Trump on the left

    2. Neo-liberals just have no answer for the working class flocking to Trump. Loomis alludes to this. I think there is an elephant in the room here. I am waiting for a free trade supporter to scream out “The American working class needs to get used to financial instability.”

    • Brien Jackson

      “2. Neo-liberals just have no answer for the working class flocking to Trump. Loomis alludes to this. I think there is an elephant in the room here. I am waiting for a free trade supporter to scream out “The American working class needs to get used to financial instability.””

      Well of course not. Whatever segment of working/middle class whites are voting for Trump, the candidate who said explicitly that he believes American wages are too high, damn sure aren’t doing it for steely-eyed pocketbook reasons now are they?

    • Malaclypse

      2. Neo-liberals just have no answer for the working class flocking to Trump.

      I remember a conversation in ’92 in grad school – if Pat Buchanan is the only voice against unrestrained capitalism, the Left is fucked.

      I was mainly wrong on my timing.

      • Nobdy

        For whatever it’s worth the left has a pretty “voice against unrestrained capitalism” candidate this election cycle.

      • Brien Jackson

        I don’t even think you can actually say this about Trump. I mean, does anyone here really believe that his idea of “winning” trade deals involves capital controls and hurting the interests of multinational corporations?

        It really is just about the racism and the full throated defense of white supremacy.

        • Malaclypse

          And Crazy Old Pat wasn’t really against capitalism either, but he talked a mean game.

          • Dilan Esper

            I hate to defend those two, but I think these comments are slightly unfair to both of them.

            You can be a protectionist and be pro-business and pro-corporate. I don’t know if any of you have been to Argentina, but that’s basically a huge part of their politics: people who want the Argentine economy to benefit Argentine corporations, not foreign multi-nationals. They have a lot of protectionism down there.

            I have no idea for sure about Trump, but I do know about Buchanan– he was NEVER a fan of the whole free trade thing. He thought America should be self-sufficient. He said it over and over again on Crossfire. He wasn’t particularly concerned about the jobs of Americans, as much as he was about the idea that we shouldn’t have to depend on what he saw as grubby foreigners to provide for our needs. But it was easy enough to adapt his message to appeal to displaced workers in New Hampshire.

            It is entirely possible that Trump will oppose free trade, because he sees trade as an area where the nation as a whole should make the best deal in its self-interests possible, and should not cave in to the Chinese or other foreign interests. There’s nothing particularly left or liberal about that message, and it isn’t fundamentally about helping workers.

            • “unfair” to Pat Buchanan and Donald Trump? What the hell, dude? Unrepentant bigots and authoritarians. Why should we be concerned about being “fair” to them?

              • Dilan Esper

                Unfair in the sense that I think they are authentically anti-free trade, for right wing reasons.

            • Brien Jackson

              Buchanan was a protectionist, sure. And yes, it’s possible that Trump will be as well, but would you actually bet on it?

              • Pseudonym

                I see Trump as basically a mercantilist.

      • NewishLawyer

        The neo-liberals as of yet really don’t need a response. They do very well, they could sincerely believe in the absolute wealth theory of economic growth, whatever. HRC will probably win the nomination and might very well slink back to triangulation.

        Yet I see large numbers of people dumb founded that their answers are getting pushback.

        • LeeEsq

          The absolute wealth theory of economic growth is more of a libertarian thing. Neo-liberals might not be as friendly to wealth redistribution mechanisms as more traditional liberals or people further to the left are but they aren’t adverse to them and recognize the need for them.

      • joe from Lowell

        I remember a conversation in ’92 in grad school – if Pat Buchanan is the only voice against unrestrained capitalism, the Left is fucked.

        I was mainly wrong on my timing.

        I was a dunno on NAFTA back then. I liked Al Gore more than Ross Perot; I knew that. Man, did Gore kick his ass in that CNN debate woot woot!

        Congratulations on being right with foresight. I didn’t build my opinion of the globalization initiative on an ideological system. I’ve only been able to look back at that project and use it to build and ideological system in hindsight.

        • Schadenboner

          Wouldn’t that have been the VP debate, making James Stockdale the kickee?

    • LeeEsq

      The Neo-Liberal answer, which I have to admit that I’m partial to but to a lesser extent than they are, is that the subtle and sublime benefits of free trade and globalization are actually better for all people than the more transparent benefits of various forms of protectionism. You might have a job with a higher wages under some form of protectionism but that is going to be off-setted by a much higher cost of goods and services. What’s worse is that those goods would be of limited in quality and range. Free trade might make the job market much less stable but it tends to make most things cheaper and it allows people living nearly anywhere to access goods and services previously unthinkable like fine Italian wines in Nebraska or Belgian beer in Oklahoma.

      • Dilan Esper

        That is the answer. And it’s why I’m a free trader.

        Having said that, though, I’m coming to believe more and more that it’s an outrage that Erik Loomis’ views on trade are probably held by a majority of the public and receive very little representation from the political system. I don’t believe in that sort of elite rule, especially on an issue where there’s no electoral benefit to supporting free trade and ignoring the party bases.

        I support free trade, but I really don’t think the Democratic nominee for President should.

        • LeeEsq

          My definition of the part base is anybody who participates in intra-party politics to a meaningful extent including voting in primaries. There are plenty of committed and loyal Democratic voters who believe in free trade and participate in intra-party politics. This makes free trade a preferred policy tradition of at least part of the Democratic base. I’m generally unmoved about argument about the party base.

        • joe from Lowell

          Dilan, what do you view as a greater problem in America right now?

          Low wages, low job security, and a shortage of middle-class jobs overall?

          Or high consumer prices and limits on the quality and range of consumer goods?

          • Gwen

            Not to mention that “free trade” is more of a euphemism than an accurate description for things like TPP.

            GATT was free trade. What we have now is just the global elite stacking the deck in their favor.

            And I say this as someone who thought the TPP might be a good idea, until I realized what was actually in it.

        • Rob in CT

          I’m coming to believe more and more that it’s an outrage that Erik Loomis’ views on trade are probably held by a majority of the public and receive very little representation from the political system.

          See also: immigration.

          • sonamib

            See also: immigration.

            But the thing with immigration is that it would be really expensive to stop. Do people hate immigrants so much that they’re ready to spend a substantial part of the GDP en Eastern Germany-like border patrol? Not to mention that some might find it distateful to have on the US-Mexican border a hundred feet large buffer zone with plenty of land mines and watchtowers manned with soldiers who are ordered to shoot anything that moves.

            If the anti-immigration types think that this would not be a good idea, then they should be happy enough with current US policy, which treats immigrants badly enough on the (relatively) cheap.

            • Rob in CT

              Oh, sure. I wasn’t endorsing “build a wall” or anything.

              But it’s pretty clear that there is a mismatch between elite consensus in both parties and their voters on this issue. So there is a political similarity.

            • ajay

              But the thing with immigration is that it would be really expensive to stop.

              As would free trade, though. There’s a reason why trade embargos and sanctions are such a powerful tool of foreign policy.

        • ChrisS

          I support free trade with global environmental & labor protection with a massive income/wealth tax on the 1%.

          I don’t suppose that would go over well with too many capitalist pigs, though.

      • NewishLawyer

        I think the key words here are “subtle” and “sublime.” Free traders might use those words in a “isn’t this wonderful?” way but a lot of people like Trump supporters see “subtle” as being inefficient. What percentage of working class Nebaraskans can afford Italian wine? Do the benefits of access help everyone?

        • Lurker

          Italian wine is not particularly expensive. In Europe, where ther are no customs barriers for it, a bottle of compeletely decent Italian wine costs maybe 8 euros. I never drink a bottle more expensive than ten euros, because my undeveloped palate can’t distinguish the quality difference. And we do have a pretty high tax on alcohol.

          Thus, a bottle of Itlian wine is definitely within the reach of most people who earn more than a minimum wage, unless the tax treatment is really unfair.

      • AMK

        Part of the answer (certainly on the Dem side, from the DLC/Clinton wing) was always that yes, people will lose their factory jobs because of NAFTA and such. BUT it won’t matter because in our grand bargain with the corporate side, they get free trade and we’ll have an expanded safety net (universal healthcare, paid medical leave, etc..) plus job retraining programs to actually help displaced workers move up the value chain, and more federal investment in research to spawn new domestic industries.

        The problem is of course that the grand bargain ended up one-sided. The corporate crowd got their free trade (and white collar liberals got richer), but the safety net went largely unfulfilled by Democrats and actively shredded by the GOP.

      • Neoliberalism, in the U.S. sense, has a bad name, and rightly so (but see the old joke about the fish who doesn’t know what water is), but its best feature is that if there are good arguments that a policy will help people, it can be convinced. This can look like triangulation, though.

        Of course, neoliberalism in the other sense is determined to make the first kind of neoliberalism impervious to those arguments in the first place.

        And we love old, stale Cold War arguments so much that discussions of HOW to help people get buried under stupidity.

  • pianomover

    Since Nixon when has the south mattered in a presidential election?
    Look at the states that voted for the winning candidate and the south was either part of the herd – see Reagan or on the wrong side.

    • Malaclypse

      Well, 2000 and 2004 they were the deciding Electoral votes.

      • Denverite

        Yeah, if Gore had been able to carry either his own southern home state or his party incumbent’s southern home state, he would have won the election.

        • UserGoogol

          Well, Florida is in the South too.

          • Origami Isopod

            Only the northern part of it.

            • MyNameIsZweig

              Not really. The interior – as in, more than 20 miles or so from the coast – is the South pretty much all the way down the peninsula.

              Of course, there aren’t a lot of people in those parts, so it’s mostly an academic question anyway.

        • Gore DID win the election.

          • pianomover

            Iowa, Ohio, Indiana heck Nevada not in the south.

    • howard

      it’s the other way around in my estimation: the gop starts with the solid base of southern electoral votes and either then can build on them or not.

    • Breadbaker

      Pretty important in 1976. Other than Hawaii and Texas, Carter didn’t carry a single state west of Minnesota. And he lost Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. It was a very different electorate, and by being the first Democratic candidate from the Deep South since the Civil War, he was basically voted into office by a number of voters who have never voted for a Democrat since (and despite his being primaried from the left in 1980, he lost all those states except Georgia).

  • howard

    the more time has gone by with the trump campaign, the more i have been thinking about how well george wallace did in the 1972 democratic primaries….

  • Drexciya

    Understanding racism — that is, a belief in and commitment to, white supremacy — is central to understanding both American history, and America today, but much of American culture and politics remains in a state of denial about the national family secret: a secret that everyone knows, but which must never be mentioned in polite company.

    Doesn’t accepting the truth of this require chiding and rejecting the portions of the left that not only got this wrong, but resolutely opposed left and (more damningly) POC efforts to highlight this fact and the complicated, subtle ways it can socially/politically operate? While the antagonists here can certainly be ranked in ways that render Chait a comparatively minor threat, I don’t understand favorably quoting someone who proudly and unrepentantly snubbed his nose at the subtle racial dynamics that Trump only needed a year to mold into something concrete enough for white people to care about.

    While this is certainly the time to speak forthrightly about the threat Trump represents and the racist dynamics that give that threat life, this is also the time to remind people that parts of the left, specifically the white “tut-tut, stop being oversensitive” portions of it that Chait and others have no problem representing, made every effort to undermine the centrality of racism in discussions of political and social life. What’s more, in the piece he shamelessly cited as though nothing whatsoever was wrong with it, he suggested that the persecution complex expressed by liberals crying racism unfairly tarnished the right, and that the racist influences of their policies should be ignored on an individual level, despite semi-accurately documenting the history for why such racism can be fairly and consistently assumed. It’s unseemly to start handing out cookies to parties who can’t be introspective about what their opposition has meant, the racism it’s embodied and who it’s been directed toward. Especially since such opposition has served to provide pseudo-moderate attempts to undermine preventative and real-time efforts to challenge the very dynamics they’re belatedly trembling at.

    The story of Chait is the story of how anti-Republicanism and anti-racism have seldom meant the same things. It’s incumbent on the left to understand why that’s been the case and to take seriously the work affected parties have been doing to address the sources instead of just the symptoms. Trump is more than a person now; he’s a magnet for a movement that will have power and expectations long after Trump has faded. A left that can’t support the gravity of what opposing such a movement has to mean is a left that will continue to make value judgments that see the support of white supremacist resistance as secondary to whether that resistance touches enjoyed fixtures of white liberal life and the preservation of liberal principles that did little to prevent this scenario. I think it would be a welcome corrective to a certain genre of ear-covering to start treating the Chait’s of the world with the skepticism and spurning that’s due them. They weren’t our allies before, and their opposition here is no guarantee that they’ll be our allies in the future. That’s got to start meaning something more than “oh, well, they were wrong that one time”.

    • shah8

      What *I* want to know, though, is who is it, exactly, is operating Trump’s campaign? Who’s getting out his vote on the ground? Who’s got the rolodex to the local power players?

      I don’t think the Trump’s reveal that racism is a motivating factor is nearly as important as to *how* he is managing to channel that racism into votes. Stop talking about clown. Look for the person(s) beneath that mechanical Turk!

      Because hey…guys… normally, loudmouths run out of steam or get Dean-Screamed, even when they have big fans that they are responsive to! If you believe that Trump is a lasting candidate who is *likely* to win, I think it’s incumbent on you all to figure out how he has been a stable and lasting political power. This doesn’t happen without *real* organization.

      Apologies to Drexciya, but I was thinking my comment was very slightly tangential in the sense that liberal rubbernecking is problematic in the sense that it prevent comprehension.

      • Manju

        I don’t know the answer. But is the premise “This doesn’t happen without *real* organization” beyond doubt?

        Maybe he’s twittering his way to “getting out his vote”. And for those who don’t use social media, he’s on the TV like 24/7. I mean, for the last week it seems that “Ted Cruz is the single biggest liar I’ve ever met” has become his own personal “Stairway to Heaven”.

        • shah8

          There is a pattern of having “just so” stories and a certain deliberate incuriosity whenever power games are played. Pays to look the other way.

          • Manju

            I don’t know about that. From Harry Dent to Lee Atwater to Storm Thurmond assuring Southerners that Nixon will listen to their concerns about Civil Rights…we know a awful lot about how Republicans channelled racism into votes.

            On the other side, Carter had Lester Maddox’s infrastructure and may have even took the Wallace vote (I mention, since his pic is up there). There’s a reason why James Eastland was an early supporter of JFK (Kennedy colluded with civil rights opponents as a Senator).

            The question isn’t unexplored. Fast forward to 2008 and the very data Chait cites (Michael Tessler) also shows that racial resentment drove the Clinton vote (against Obama). But we know who was on the ground for Clinton: Bill, Geraldine, Bob Kerry.

            Trump’s ground game however is a mystery, afaik. People are genuinely speculating that he’s rewritten the rules.

          • Steve LaBonne

            Come now. If there were a story there I’m sure our ace political reporters would have been all over it. Haha.

    • Yeah, Chait’s attitude is old and has been old since before he started his professional career, and I guess that’s why he represents “the left wing perspective” at the glossiest of lifestyle magazines instead of doing policy analysis for The Nation.

  • CrunchyFrog

    conservative elite opinion has been in a state of continual denial about the fact that the electoral success of the contemporary Republican party depends to a great extent on catering to and energizing a base that contains a high percentage of racists.

    Well, yes, but also encouraging more racism. This is done by passing along memes like 47%, or Fox News being 1000x more likely during daytime hours to report on a minor crime from some obscure place if the perpetrator is black and there is a picture. Or Obama giving billions away to his brothas in the hood.

    But importantly, it’s encouraging racism while also telling them they aren’t racists. All of the good looking black news readers Fox News hires, for example, or supporting Ben Carson and Herbert Cain, or of course Clarence Thomas, or telling them that Obama is the REAL racist.

  • libarbarian

    The GOP Elite = Oedipus.

    They certainly are motherfuckers!

  • BiloSagdiyev

    I just find it hilarious that Mr. Brooks’s Finishing School for Gentlemen is aghast to find all of its Juggalo students burning down the schoolhouse and flinging poo at him.

    Also, all of the protestations of the GOP elite lately only remind me of this old Onion classic:

    http://www.theonion.com/blogpost/why-do-all-these-homosexuals-keep-sucking-my-cock-11150

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