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Real Americans

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TUCSON, AZ – MARCH 26: Senator John McCain and former Alsaka state Governor Sarah Palin campaign at Pima County Fairgrounds, March 26, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

I’d like to focus on one particular aspect of the article about how Trump went to Jared for his pandemic relief that Paul discussed earlier:

Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.

For you young people out there, it’s almost impossible to convey how long the idea that Democrats are snooty elitists who don’t care about anyone outside coastal urban areas was taken as a given in mainstream political coverage. In every presidential campaign, some isolated off-the-cuff remark — like Clinton’s “deplorables” or Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” — is proof that the Republican narrative was correct. John Kerry was disciplined enough not to make a gaffe so it was considered necessary for Maureen Dowd to make up a quote about NASCAR (a niche sport which spent years as a media synecdoche for real America for obvious reasons.) For whatever reason, these stray quotes are considered more important than, say, the fact that all of these politicians support and one of them signed an expansion of Medicaid that has been a literal lifesaver for rural America, at least in states where Republicans who ACTUALLY despise their state’s working class citizens haven’t blocked it.

But when reactionaries from Wallace to Palin to Trump talk about REAL AMERICA, they mean it — it structures their entire worldview. Jared’s belief that the lives of people in blue states (who are less affluent than he is) are worth nothing is just a blunter statement about the ethos that governs Republican politics. It’s no different when Wisconsin Republicans declare they have the permanent right to minority rule because cities shouldn’t really count and the Republicans on the Supreme Court wink at multiple provisions of the Constitution to agree with them. They’re completely straightforward about it, and yet it gets much less attention than John Kerry ordering Swiss cheese on a cheesesteak.

Admittedly, in Trump’s case this general contempt for people living in diverse urban areas is also applied with similar force to his own supporters — after all, after it became clear that COVID-19 was not going to be confined to blue states and was becoming a political disaster for his administration, he didn’t meaningfully change course, and nor did his fellow nihilists like DeSantis and Kemp. When you implicitly declare certain classes of lives as worthless, the net is likely to keep getting wider and wider.

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