Matt Taibbi is probably right.
Donald Trump’s campaign has stopped being funny. Now it’s beyond a living satire. Even Paddy Chayefsky wouldn’t let things get this vile.
We’re now under the rock seething in the squishy, stomach-turning underbelly of conservative politics that has festered in the resentment of a politics that has capitalized on the anxieties created by the growing equality of minorities, women and members of the LGBT* community.
On Friday, Trump visited Alabama, where fifty years ago protesters risked life and limb to demand basic voting rights and this year gay couples still face staggering hostility to their basic right to marry.
Before his speech, he tweeted, “Finally, the silent majority is back!”
Earlier this summer, Trump said his “silent majority” wasn’t a reference to Richard Nixon, whose used the euphemism to describe his embrace of the politics of segregationist Strom Thurmond and coded language of “law and order” as part of a Southern Strategy, designed to capitalize on Democrats’ identification as the party of black people.
So what exactly is coming back to Alabama?
Could it just be an accident that Trump is using racially coded language to target minorities as scapegoats for decades of middle class attrition that are the direct result of conservative policies?
“Most likely, immigrants are just collateral damage in Trump’s performance art routine, which is an absurd ritualistic celebration of the coiffed hotshot endlessly triumphing over dirty losers and weaklings,” Taibbi wrote.
But there’s nothing accidental about why immigrant-stomping resounds so well in today’s Republican Party.
The melding of Christian conservatism with an opposition to racial integration has long been at the gut of the GOP’s appeal to working white men. And it’s the core of Trump’s appeal to “less educated” Americans. Of course, Trump is winning because he’s drawing from all demographics of men in the GOP because as George Wallace once said, “The whole United States is Southern.”
The beauty of these kinds of racial appeals is they’re rich in a history of white supremacism and almost devoid of context because the media is afraid to point out what’s really going on. In the past, both parties have embraced have embraced these divisive appeals. But conservatives own them almost completely in the Obama era, by necessity.
Obama both proved that there is a Coalition of Ascendant large enough to win majorities and, unfortunately, proved that you cannot nominate a minority without inflaming the sensibilities of those who live in Fear of a Black/Brown Planet.
Because of the demographic tidal wave that is transforming America, the 2016 election will take place at a crux in history: This will likely be the last time a major party can hope to win by almost exclusively to white people. If Republicans win, it will be a massive vindication of these sort of politics that comes at the exact moment where it can do the most damage. If they lose, it could force conservatism to find policies and messages that expand its withering base.
But thanks to Trump, the media can no longer hide what’s at the center of conservative know-nothingism.
“Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill,” Jim Sherota, a 53-year old man who attended the Trump rally told The New York Times. “That’d be one nice thing.”
I mean, you can pretend that it’s a total coincidence that a white supremacist wants to name a town after Trump. Or maybe Trump supporters beat and peed on immigrant because they just love fancy walls.
Transcribing this interview with a white Alabama farmer is going well so far pic.twitter.com/O7a2sr8Gsk
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) August 22, 2015
“I don’t care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortions in White House after this immigration policy paper,” Ann Coulter tweeted.
When you’re willing to abandon any sort of value you claim to have in order to feed anti-immigrant, it’s tough to discern any policy that binds these conservatives together besides defending racial purity.
For decades the press has pretended that it was just a coincidence that Ronald Reagan opened his 1980 general election campaign in a county known for the death of civil rights workers speaking about “states rights.”
The term “states rights” was perfectly designed to invoke nuance and history. “Mass deportations” brings out the pure ugliness of a party that doesn’t trust the government to do anything but wants it rounding up millions of people and enforcing medieval encampments on a border that has seen zero net migrations in years just because there are brown people on the other side.
Conservatives used to be much better at hiding their race baiting. And that Trump is pulling ahead of the GOP crowd by proudly embracing the ugliness of these appeals is almost a public service.
Now even Republicans are publicly fretting that they’re in danger of becoming a “white identity” party, as if that choice hadn’t been made long ago.
In a grown-up political party, operatives and activists would be shamed from supporting a candidate who only became a Republican hero by demanding the black guy’s birth certificate.
Either Republicans are about to face the blowback of decades of tacitly accepting race-baiting, or America is about to get an education in what happens to a nation that isn’t capable of rising out of the depths of its worst past.
[Image by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]