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The Jim Crow Roots of Trump’s Republican Party


As Adam Sewrer observes, Trumpism has clear roots in the kleptocratic apartheid police states of the Jim Crow South:

What Trump seeks is nothing less than a federal government that enriches himself and his allies, prosecutes his political opponents and critics, and turns a blind eye to any crimes he or any of his cohorts commit. The institutional guardrails that have restrained him will not hold forever. Either American voters will remove him from office, or the federal government will increasingly become an enterprise run for the benefit of a single wealthy family and whoever earns its favor.

Many commentators have described that kind of authoritarianism as foreign to the United States. But it isn’t. It has its inspiration and precursor in the racial kleptocracy of the Jim Crow South, in which states were essentially criminal enterprises that existed to expropriate black wealth, exploit black labor, disenfranchise black voters, and shield acts of racist terrorism and violence from prosecution.

Remnants of this society are still with us, from mass incarceration, to discrimination against black jurors, to stand-your-ground laws. But alongside it, America retains a system in which the wealthy remain largely immune to financial crimes. Weak laws and regulations make the prosecution of financial crimes difficult, and prosecutors are often loath to pursue individuals who might be able to fill their campaign coffers come election time. Whether the president is Barack Obama or Donald Trump, the rich can afford a different kind of justice than everyone else.

Even if Trump had never entered the White House, the American justice system, which harshly prosecutes any transgression by the poor, no matter how minor, while largely ignoring financial crimes, no matter how massive, would still exist. Trump himself is a remarkable synthesis of America’s history of cruelty toward people of color and the poor of any race, but he is still only a symptom of a greater disease.

It’s certainly an appropriate time for the revival of John Calhoun’s constitutionalism!

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