Friday, October 26, 2018

Trumpism: Cruelty and White Identity Politics

Hopefully, the pundits who claimed that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election due to his "strong economic message" - one which had few if any details - have belatedly pulled their heads out of their asses and faced the reality that Trump's entire campaign and agenda since moving into the White House has been about white identity politics laced with a large dose of homophobia to thrill the Christofascists in the GOP base. Now, in the wake of the pipe bomb threat against CNN and numerous Democrats constantly attacked by Trump, one hears calls - disingenuous on the GOP side of the aisle - that people should not be labeled as bad or immoral because they hold differing "political beliefs."  The problem is, in my view, that when one supports racist policies, the brutal separation of immigrant families and efforts to strip LGBT citizens of legal protections - all things that cause very real harm - you are supporting immoral policies.  One cannot support immoral policies and then in the next breath whine that it is unfair to call you immoral or question your decency.  Trump supporters have a choice: they must either accept or reject the Trump/Pence regime's immoral policies.  If they accept them, then all the negative reflections on their lack of decency and morality are fully deserved. A piece in The Atlantic looks at Trumpism in all its ugliness.  Here are excerpts:

After Democrats lost the 2016 presidential election, a certain conventional wisdom congealed within the pundit class: . . . By failing to emphasize a strong economic message, the thinking went, the [Democrat] party had ceded the election to Trump.
That explanation ignored the uncomfortable fact that Trump’s economic vision was centered on a politics of white identity, charging that immigrants and unqualified minorities were obtaining advantages the average white American could not claim. That left his opponents with a choice: Contest that vision, or let him attack those groups uncontested. In the meantime, Trump’s administration has seen that economic message almost entirely subsumed by the focus of congressional Republicans on tax cuts for the wealthy and plans to shrink the social safety net. . . . The economics were never the point. The cruelty was the point.
Nevertheless, among those who claim to oppose identity politics, the term is applied exclusively to efforts by historically marginalized constituencies to claim rights others already possess. Trump’s campaign, with its emphasis on state violence against religious and ethnic minorities . . . . does not count under this definition, but left-wing opposition to discriminatory state violence does.
[T]he entire closing argument of the Republican Party in the 2018 midterm elections is a naked appeal to identity politics—a politics based in appeals to the loathing of, or membership in, a particular group. The GOP’s plan to slash the welfare state in order to make room for more high-income tax cuts is unpopular among the public at large. In order to preserve their congressional majority, Republicans have taken to misleading voters by insisting that they oppose cuts or changes to popular social insurance programs, while stoking fears about Latino immigrants, Muslim terrorists, and black criminality. In truth, without that deception, identity politics is all the Trump-era Republican Party has.
Trump considers the media “the enemy of the people” only when it successfully undermines his falsehoods; at all other times, it is a force multiplier, obeying his attempts to shift topics of conversation from substantive policy matters to racial scaremongering. The tenets of objectivity by which American journalists largely abide hold that reporters may not pass judgment on the morality of certain political tactics, only on their effectiveness. It’s a principle that unintentionally rewards immorality by turning questions of right and wrong into debates over whether a particular tactic will help win an election.
In the closing weeks of the campaign,[Trump] the president has promised a nonexistent tax cut to the middle class after two years in which unified Republican control of government produced only a windfall for the rich; he has spread falsehoods about a caravan of refugees traveling through Central America; he has invented wholesale a fiction about anti-immigrant riots in California to justify his policies; and his administration is considering revoking federal recognition of the existence of trans people. This is of a piece with the Trump administration’s general policy agenda, which has involved austerity for the working class and the poor and generosity to the wealthy or connected.
2016 campaign pledged both generous social-insurance benefits for working-class white Republicans and cruelty for undeserving nonwhites. The Trump White House delivered on the latter, but not on the former, and so Republicans are scrambling to insist that they will cut taxes on the middle class, offer robust health-care protections, and protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, even as GOP leaders in Congress plot to slash all three to cut the deficit created by their upper-income tax cuts.
In upstate New York, an embattled Republican incumbent attacks his black, Harvard-educated Democratic challenger as a “big-city rapper”; in California, an anti-immigrant Republican under federal indictment smears his Arab American rival as a terrorist; in Georgia, a state far from the Southern border, the Republican candidate for governor brags that he’ll drive around in his pickup truck and “round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.”
America is not, strictly speaking, a center-right or center-left nation. Rather, it remains the nation of the Dixiecrats, in which the majority’s desire for equal opportunity and a robust welfare state is mediated by the addiction of a large chunk of the polity to racial hierarchy. It is no coincidence that the Democratic Party’s dominant period in American history coincided with its representation of both warring impulses and ended when it chose one over the other. The midterms offer a similar choice for the American voter, in rather stark terms.
If you are one of my "friends" yet support the Trump/GOP agenda of lies, cruelty and inflicting harm on others, don't be surprised it I question your morality and decency.  Some things are more than "political differences" - they come down to basic morality.  If you support immoral policies, then it likely that you are not the moral, decent person you pretend to be.  You do not get to have it both ways. 

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