Monday, March 14, 2016

From Reagan to Bush to Trump, Dog Whistles Become Shouts

It was no accident that Reagan began his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi or that W. began his South Carolina pitch at Bob Jones U. in 2000. Now Trump is channeling the implicit racism of the GOP. Who didn't see it in his every word since declaring?

Civil rights workers murdered in Philadelphia, Miss. in 1964. Ronald Reagan
knew exactly what he was doing when he opened his 1980 campaign there.

Donald Trump's vitriolic speech didn't become so hot, violent, and racist overnight, as Paul Krugman points out in his NYTimes column this morning. Dog whistles so long employed by the GOP to signal to the good ole boys that they had their backs have become loud and clear at Trump rallies. Was violence far behind?

Trump, ever the in-your-face, narcissistic provocateur, who wrote in his book, The Art of the Deal, that deception is okay as long as it advances your brand, has, as his folks are getting all the more fired up in the face of now-routine protests, doubled down and blamed the violence on Bernie Sanders while hinting he'll pay the legal fees of those who punch people in his defense. Sanders, he said, should be forewarned: We're coming to get you.

As should have been obvious for a long time, the Tea-Party takeover of the GOP base in 2010 turns out not to be temporary. Nor is it a single-issue event. It was a coalescence of forces building for almost forty years (longer if you factor in Nixon's original incantation of the Southern Strategy in concert with the hot-tongued rantings of his favorite attack dog, Spiro Agnew), and it successfully built a coalition of the increasingly alienated and disenfranchised white working class, the values-challenged evangelicals, and, let's face it, the low-information, under-educated whites easily duped by Fox News and right-wing radio into thinking that "libruls" were coming to get them and their tax money.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Republican big tent: The cause was hijacked by the business interests of the billionaire class -- if it hadn't always been theirs to manipulate. Under Republican leadership, wages started to spiral down as spending spiraled up; abortion remained legal; gay marriage became so; a BLACK PRESIDENT WAS ELECTED; and roads, and bridges, and schools continued to crumble. Government got worse and worse at solving things, which under conservative ideology is a feature, not a bug, of GOP standard operating procedure. If you can wreck government, it's easy to blame it for being no good.

And school prayer was still illegal. Go figure.

But here's the key: As long as "the other" could be blamed, whether it's blacks, Latinos, Asians stealing tech jobs, or liberals out to raise your taxes and give it to the slackers while letting terrorists get away with murdering Christians, the GOP could keep their brand strong.

What changed was that the Republican establishment never delivered, but we already knew that.

So what do we end up with? An unruly, dangerous mob in search of an unruly, dangerous leader who will promise to take back the country for them.

Enter Donald Trump and his minions. The Republicans want to put this genie back in the bottle, and the Democrats wouldn't care one way or the other if it would help elect a Democrat but are scared a bit because this is the way fascism gets rolling.


I'm rooting for the Republican establishment figuring a way to smash Trump in the mouth on the way to the convention and he, then, mounting an independent run, smoothing the way for either Hillary or Bernie, while smashing up the GOP just enough for the Democrats to take back the Senate. The House will take much longer.

A hopeful scenario. We'll all know soon enough.

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