The press has come in for a great deal of well-justified criticism for how it covered the 2016 election, especially the way it focused on trivialities and non-events and was devoid of any kind of serious policy considerations. But I consider its most grievous sin the failure of the press to take seriously the reportage that was being done, and was in fact widely available, documenting Donald Trump’s alignment with and empowerment of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, militia ‘Patriots,’ and various extremist factions.
These factions’ propensity for ethnic, religious, racial, anti-LGBT, and other kinds of violence is well known and well documented. And because the Trump election has clearly empowered them, a rash of hate crimes against Muslims, Latinos, blacks and gays has broken out (some 200 on the first day alone) and is unlikely to abate soon. Indeed, I’m now deeply concerned that we are going to see pro-Trump militiamen showing up for the anti-Trump demonstrations, and things could become very ugly then. And the press is powerfully to blame.
As on many things Trump-related, Paul was ahead of me on this one. In policy terms, he will likely be a fairly conventional Republican in the end, which is to say horrible. But as Bouie says the difference between the dog whistle and the air heard siren is not actually politically trivial. All Republicans from Nixon on have mobilized white resentment, but that doesn’t mean that Trump isn’t different. Policy-wise, a Trump presidency will not be meaningfully worse on civil rights than a Cruz or Rubio one — but a Cruz or Rubio presidency would not have brought the same increase in racially motivated harassment and violence.
A final thought. Most if not all of us — and certainly me — assumed that Trump was obviously the weakest candidate Clinton could have faced. But you know what? There’s a non-trivial chance that against Cruz or Rubio rather than explicit white nationalism she holds in WI/MI/PA and wins the Electoral College. It’s at least possible that against a more conventional Republican Clinton does worse in the popular vote but does better in the anti-democratic anachronism that actually determines the winner.