Wednesday, October 26, 2016
I have often argued that the goal of today's GOP has been to somehow turn the clock back to the 1950's when, according to the party base's view, everything was golden and perfection. Unless, of course one is black, Hispanic, a woman, LGBT and/or non-religious. Indeed, everything that has made America a more equal society is viewed as bad by Trumpkins who long for unchallenged white privilege and a time when open bigotry was more acceptable. A piece in Salon looks new poll findings and at the troubling world view of Trump's base of support. It is an indictment of what the GOP has become and the ugliness that it has long cultivated. Now, it has spun out of control. Here are article excerpts:
If you ever had the sneaking suspicion that “Make America Great Again” was code for “Turn America’s clock back to the 1950s,” a new poll suggests you were absolutely right.
According to a survey published by the Public Religion Research Institute, 72 percent of likely voters supporting Donald Trump say America has changed for the worst since the 1950s. By contrast, 70 percent of likely voters supporting Hillary Clinton say that America has changed for the better since that decade.
Not surprisingly, these findings are also sharply divided based on racial lines. While 56 percent of white Americans say America has changed for the worse since the 1950s, 62 percent of African-Americans and 57 percent of Hispanic Americans say that it has changed for the better.
That said, 56 percent of college-educated white Americans also believe that America has changed for the better since the 1950s; 65 percent of white Americans without college degrees say that it has not.
The group that most yearns for the 1950s? White evangelical Protestants, 74 percent of whom think things have gotten worse.
Across the board, the study found that Democrats were more likely to care about social justice issues than Republicans. . . . 61 percent of Democrats said race relations mattered to them personally compared to only 31 percent of Republicans.
Sixty-three percent of Democrats believe that immigrants strengthen American society, whereas 73 percent of Republicans say that immigrants threaten American customs and values.
Finally, 77 percent of Democrats say that America would benefit from more women serving in political leadership roles, a sentiment 62 percent of Republicans disagree with.
The 1950s is a decade closely associated with the Cold War, McCarthy era witch hunts, and violent backlash to the civil rights movement. Although not explicitly incorporated in the themes of Trump’s campaign, the Republican nominee’s critics have long noted that “Make America Great Again” could be viewed as a dog whistle for a return to an era before our society’s major strides in racial and gender equality.
[The] message where ‘I’ll give you America great again’ is if you’re a white Southerner, you know exactly what it means, don’t you?”
Note how southern evangelical Christians lead the way in longing for the bad old days of the 1950's. The remain among the most selfish and self-centered people (and racist) and display a contempt for the Gospel message they claim to support by their opposition to equality and social justice. They should not be welcome in polite and decent society.
Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker is off the GOP reservation again, this time writing a column that places the blame for Donald Trump's rise and the metastasizing cancer within the Republican Party at the feet of the Republican National Committee ("RNC") which sold out to Trump or allowed themselves to be suckered and played for fools. The indictment, while certainly true, also applies far down the GOP's party structure and began years ago when those who should never have been elected to local party committees or allowed to win nominations were welcomed instead of being firmly rejected if not openly condemned. Trump is merely the logical extension of a failure of leadership that applies up and down the party hierarchy. Short turn opportunism and a refusal to reject extremists of all stripes - and a refusal to face objective reality - are what set the GOP on its march to insanity. Here are column highlights:
Perhaps the strongest indicator that Trump will lose is his own premature distribution of blame. As far as he is concerned, defeat couldn’t be his fault.The obvious truth is that Trump never should have been the Republican nominee, as even Trump probably would admit. When he descended the escalator to announce his candidacy, he was at just 1 percent — a barely perceptible speck on the continuum of Republican candidates.
He was ignored — or at least not taken seriously — by nearly everyone for good reason. And when he started spouting hot rhetoric, few in the GOP leadership worried much since he’d surely be moving along any day. This was not to be, in part because, as Trump commented laughing to a friend, who told me: “I had no idea it would be so easy.”
Translation: Once he realized he was dealing with a bunch of suckers, he continued to play them. What fun — and, voila.
The suckers of whom he was speaking are the party leadership, specifically: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and RNC communications director Sean Spicer. If these names don’t ring a bell, congratulations, you don’t watch TV. Because Priebus, when not jetting around with Trump on his gold-plated private plane, and Spicer are on one talk show or another nearly every time you look at a cable news screen. They’ve worn more makeup the past year than most women do in a lifetime.
They’re the elephants in the green room, in other words. Everyone sees them clearly but manages to avoid speaking openly of the obvious — that Priebus has presided over the ruin of the Republican Party. Why isn’t he being held accountable? Why isn’t he being called to the mat for allowing Trump’s rise, which might not have been possible had the party chair done his job?
Why was everyone willing to stand by and watch this reality-TV character take charge?“Because [Priebus] is their boy,” a disgruntled top Republican told me. “He’s given them what they wanted. He’s kept the money flowing.”
The RNC gang sold out. When Trump launched his campaign by ranting about undocumented Mexicans as murderers and rapists, the party leadership should have shouted him down. Priebus should have summoned Trump to Washington and explained how things were going to go. He might have handed Trump the GOP’s autopsy report from the 2012 election and referred him to the “Hispanics” section of the chapter on cultivating “Demographic Partners,” saying: This is what you’re going to do from now on.
Would Trump have agreed? Probably not. But then Priebus should have said: Well, then, I’ll have to break you down during the primaries. At every opportunity, Priebus should have made the case that Trump, who eventually alienated not just Hispanics but also African Americans and women, doesn’t represent the Republican Party. Instead, Priebus and others feared a base that hadn’t formed around Trump yet and, by their inaction, contributed to Trump’s success.
By letting Trump rise to the top, as oil slicks tend to, Priebus has left the party in such a gelatinous mess Republicans will need a hazmat team to clean it up. And for this, he’d like to serve a third term?
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
One of the much noted aspects of Donald trump's candidacy is the manner in which it has helped mainstream white nationalists and other elements seeking to restore a white conservative Christian America and bring them out from the fringes of the Republican Party. Sadly, much of the GOP base seemingly has wildly embraced Trump and his message of racial division and hatred. Republican apologists try to claim that Trump has not openly courted the support of these elements, but as a long piece in Politico lays out, Trump has consistently sent dog whistle and coded messages to those with white nationalist and KKK ties and ideology. The messaging - which white nationalists see as being denied with a wink and a nod - has been too consistent to have been inadvertent or by mistake on the part of Trump, his surrogates and his campaign. As for Republicans who aren't racists (or who claim not to be), it would seem to be time for them to evacuate from the GOP's sinking ship. Here are highlights from Politico:
The embrace of Donald Trump by America’s white nationalists has been one of the most surprising and unsettling threads in the 2016 campaign. The celebrity New York developer has been endorsed by the nation’s most prominent neo-Nazis, as well as both current and former Klansmen. He is supported online by a legion of racist and anti-Semitic trolls, who push his campaign’s message and viciously attack journalists and politicians they see as hostile to Trump.
Whether deliberately or not, the candidate, his son Donald Jr. and his surrogates have circulated white nationalist messages and imagery online. The Republican National Committee even displayed a white nationalist’s tweet during the GOP convention.
How did the scattered legions of American white supremacists coalesce around a showboating New York mogul? I tracked this two-year evolution through thousands of posts and comments on scores of blogs and forums used by the most ideological racists. What these posts show is the story of a U.S. presidential candidate who slowly but relentlessly overcame widespread distrust and contempt, as white nationalists came to believe he was their candidate—or at least the best candidate they could realistically expect.
Perhaps surprisingly, it wasn’t Trump’s initial campaign announcement about Mexican “rapists” that cemented his support: It was his steady, consistent push for an anti-immigration platform, one of the central policy pillars of the nationalist right. And as white-nationalists began to rally around Trump as its closest political ally in a generation, they began to detect what members called “wink-wink-wink” communications from the candidate. There was his retweet of bogus murder statistics that exaggerated black crime; two separate retweets of a racist Twitter feed called @WhiteGenocideTM; and the interview that sealed the deal: the moment on CNN when—just days before the Louisiana primary—Trump dodged the question of whether to repudiate the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, which one commenter on the white nationalist site Stormfront called “the best political thing I have seen in my life.”
Whether the white nationalist community’s embrace of Trump was the result of a conscious strategy on the campaign’s part, some sort of accident or something in between, it led to a show of unified support unprecedented for a modern major-party nominee. Even as Trump supporters argue that the candidate isn’t a racist, when it comes to the white-power movement itself, there’s no question how they see it: More than in any other modern presidential campaign, they believe they’re receiving clear and frequent signals of support.
[T]heir attitudes toward Republican candidates largely have been ambivalent, with many opting out of politics altogether. Now, with Trump, that has changed, raising the prospect that the nominee of a major political party is tapping a deep well of anti-Semitism and racial hate—intentionally or unintentionally—and is mainstreaming such views in the process.
If Trump wins the election, subscribers to those views believe, they will be able to claim increased legitimacy and seek a bigger role in mainstream politics. And even if he loses, as looks more likely, they may be in a better position than ever to claim a stake in future presidential elections—perhaps even to field a candidate of their own four years from now.
Announcing his candidacy at Trump Tower in June 2015, Trump memorably said illegal Mexican immigrants were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” With that line, he threw red meat to the white nationalist crowd from the very start of his presidential campaign, but it would take some time for that crowd to believe that Trump was sincere in his rhetoric.
The first white nationalist leader to formally endorse Trump appears to have been Andrew Anglin, an avid online activist who came up through the racist depths of the alt-right, via the 4chan forum, to found a popular neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer. In late June 2015, Anglin wrote that he didn’t think Trump could ever beat Hillary Clinton in the general election. But he saw reason for hope in Trump’s rising poll numbers. “I urge all readers of this site to do whatever they can to make Donald Trump President,” Anglin wrote in June.
Trump refused to back down from his controversial remarks about Hispanics, winning plaudits from white nationalists for his defiance of “political correctness” in the face of criticism from business partners and fellow Republicans.
Trump was surging in the polls “because he is not on his knees before Mexico and Mexican immigrants,” said Jared Taylor of the influential white nationalist website American Renaissance, which under the guise of “race realism” attempts to put an intellectual face on white nationalism.
At first, there were only tenuous reasons to think Trump was even aware of the white nationalist debate over his suitability for their cause. In July 2015, Trump had tweeted an image showing a stock photo of Nazi S.S. soldiers where American soldiers should have been. The Trump campaign blamed an intern for the mistake, and the incident faded quickly from the mainstream press. But white nationalist observers saw something different.
“Obviously, most people will be like ‘obvious accident, no harm done,’” Anglin wrote on the Daily Stormer. “Meanwhile, we here at the Daily Stormer will be all like ‘wink wink wink wink wink.’”
[H]is would soon become a pattern: Trump would promulgate messages with racist cues (some more subtle, some less so), then deny or disavow them, while the white nationalist community dutifully perked up and saw those messages as a call to arms.
In November, for example, the candidate retweeted a graphic showing false statistics vastly exaggerating black crime. White nationalists responded enthusiastically, even as they themselves acknowledged the statistics were false. The graphic was later traced back to a white nationalist on Twitter.
Some white nationalists went so far as to goad the candidate into sending racist signals. In late 2015, a social media campaign called The White Genocide Project began directing tweets to the candidate over Twitter. . . . . In late January, Trump took the bait, retweeting a message that had been directed to him from a user with the handle “@WhiteGenocideTM.” While the content of the tweet was relatively innocuous (a light jab at Jeb Bush), the user’s account was filled with anti-Semitic content and linked to a revisionist biography of Adolf Hitler.
Within a few days, Trump retweeted @WhiteGenocideTM a second time, and two more “white genocide”-oriented users soon after that. (The campaign did not respond to media requests for comment on the tweets at the time.)
“Whereas the odd White genocide tweet could be a random occurrence, it isn’t statistically possible that two of them back to back could be a random occurrence,” wrote Daily Stormer’s Anglin. “It could only be deliberate. There is no way that this could be anything other than both a wink-wink-wink and a call for more publicity on his campaign.”
In February, the hammer finally fell. On his online radio program, recorded the day of Trump’s victory in the Nevada caucuses, Duke credited Trump with energizing white nationalists, and effectively endorsed him, imploring voters in that state to turn out. “You have an absolute obligation to vote for Donald Trump, and to vote against Cruz and Rubio,” Duke said. “If you vote for Ted Cruz, you are acting in a traitorous way to our people. You are betraying our people. Period.” He cautioned that he didn’t agree with everything Trump said, but argued, “Trump is the only chance we really have right now to make a dent, plus Trump is waking up our people and energizing our people across America.”
After Duke’s endorsement, most other white nationalist leaders fell in line.
With a long and persistent series of racial cues, Trump had won the benefit of the doubt from the white nationalist community. In the wake of the CNN interview, a new consensus emerged in that community: Trump was secretly sympathetic to white nationalism, to a greater or lesser degree, and anything he said that contradicted the goals of the movement could be dismissed as an expediency, necessary to get elected. Many white nationalists commenting online thought he actually needed to be more careful about concealing his supposed beliefs in order to advance through the election.
When Trump suggested in August 2016 that Second Amendment supporters might have to redress his potential electoral loss to Clinton, Ryan said it was a “joke gone bad,” while Stormfronters cheered and mocked the “pearl-clutching media.” By the time Trump hired the founder of the alt-right news site Breitbart as his campaign CEO and Donald Trump Jr. tweeted racist memes featuring Skittles and Pepe the Frog in the fall, party leaders could hardly be bothered to keep up. The steady stream of provocations kept white nationalists supportive and stimulated.
Some white nationalists were upset by the recent release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape capturing Trump bragging about sexual assault. But many attributed the leak and subsequent accusations of sexual misconduct to a Jewish conspiracy.
So they were primed when, in a speech in Florida last week, Trump blasted “those who control the levers of power in Washington, and … the global special interests.” He accused Clinton of conspiring with “international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers.”
For many Americans, these references might seem merely paranoid. But the hard-won, faithful white nationalist converts to Trumpism had heard and used these terms for decades. And they had a clear idea what their candidate’s words meant.
There is a stereotype that the rich consistently vote Republican, motivated by the lure of promises of tax cuts and false promises of "smaller government." Like all stereotypes, it has never been completely true, but some conjecture that it will definitely not be true in the 2016 election cycle where Donald Trump and the party base he now defines are driving many Republicans from the party fold. A piece in the New York Times looks at the phenomenon and analyzes why the GOP is losing support among those often viewed as the most dependable of voters. Here are highlights:
For the first time in decades, the wealthy are set to deliver a landslide victory for a Democratic presidential candidate.
While polling data on the rich is imprecise given their small population, polls of the top-earning households favor Hillary Clinton over Donald J. Trump two to one. The July Affluent Barometer survey by Ipsos found that among voters earning more than $100,000 a year — roughly the top 25 percent of households — 45 percent said they planned to vote for Mrs. Clinton, while 28 percent planned to vote for Mr. Trump. The rest were undecided or planned to vote for another candidate.
The spread was even wider among the highest earners. For those earning $250,000 or more — roughly the top 5 percent of households — 53 percent planned to vote for Mrs. Clinton while 25 percent favored Mr. Trump.
[I]f the numbers hold, historians and wealth experts say that next month’s elections may prove to be the largest vote by the wealthy for a Democratic candidate in recent history.
The big question is whether Mrs. Clinton’s potential sweep of the elite represents a structural shift in the politics and policy preferences of the wealthy, or simply a personal aversion to Mr. Trump. Either way, the vote would break decades of Republican dominance of affluent voters in presidential elections. It would also shed light on a growing debate about whether the wealthy are tacking to the left politically as more fortunes are created and concentrated in states like California and New York and throughout the left-leaning tech industry.
Ipsos says its data suggests that the affluent are more anti-Trump than pro-Clinton. . . . “The affluent vote seems to be more about the concerns over Donald Trump than the enthusiasm for Clinton,” said Stephen Kraus, chief insights officer and director of the Ipsos Affluent Survey.
The closest comparison to the current election among affluent voters is the one in 2008, when Barack Obama carried about half of voters who earned more than $100,000. Yet Mr. Gelman said John McCain still did better among the rich than the poor, and compared with the broader electorate, the wealthy voted Republican more often.
In the current election, Mrs. Clinton is poised to capture a far larger share of the affluent vote than Mr. Obama. And if the numbers hold, the elite would lean more Democratic than Republican for the first time in at least 50 years, Mr. Gelman said.
In the current election, of course, neither candidate is publicly courting the wealth vote. Even Mr. Trump has been labeled a populist. Yet affluent voters are 15 to 20 percent more likely to vote than the broader population, according to Ipsos. Their financial support gives the wealthy an outsize voice in campaigns.
Perhaps part of what is driving the shift is the realization that a Trump presidency would be very bad for the nation and, therefore, bad for the wealthy as well, especially if Trump created economic chaos by starting wars and/or trade wars. Then again, they may want to have nothing to do with the racists, religious fanatics and bigots who now control the GOP base.“I don’t think either candidate wants to be seen as having the support of the 1 percent right now,” Mr. Kraus said, “even though they are both part of the 1 percent.”
It is not just the base of the Republican Party that is hastening the demise of the party. Aiding and abetting the ugliness and overall misogyny of the GOP is the right wing media swamp - or perhaps toxic bubble is a better term - that churns out lies and misinformation and helps maintain the fantasy world that so many in the GOP seem to live in. When one lives in a world where most of the "news" one hears comes from right wing outlets sooner or later (i) you become detached from objective reality, and (ii) have bigoted and ignorant views/beliefs reinforced. Should Donald Trump lose - and hopefully, lose badly - on November 8th, any effort to reform the GOP and make it competitive again in presidential elections must address the disservice done by the right wing media that is playing to a shrinking audience even as it pretends to represent the dominant view. A column in the Washington Post looks at the problem. Here are highlights:
No doubt, should this expected defeat [of Donald Trump] come to pass, Republican leadership will try to regroup and figure out what went wrong.As in the last “autopsy,” the GOP establishment will probably conclude that it needs to broaden its appeal to demographics beyond older white men; that what prevented this more widespread appeal in 2016 was having a boorish, sexist, race-baiting, egomaniacal, undisciplined nominee; that if only it fielded a more genteel version of Trump, someone who espoused essentially the same fiscal and social policies but with more empathy, they’d have won the White House, and will win it once again.
This conclusion would be wrong.
The sickness in today’s Republican Party is not confined to its current standard-bearer. It is therefore not curable by merely disavowing, however belatedly, the soon-to-be-defeated nominee. The sickness has taken over the Republican base, and there’s only one antidote.
If Republicans truly want to save the Republican Party, they need to go to war with right-wing media. That is, they need to dismantle the media machine persuading their base to believe completely bonkers, bigoted garbage.
It is, after all, the right-wing radio, TV and Internet fever swamps that have gotten them into this mess, that have led to massive misinformation, disinformation and cynicism among Republican voters. And draining those fever swamps is the only way to get them out of it.
For a sense of just how misinformed Republican voters have become, consider a few of the provably wrong things many believe.
Among just Trump voters, 7 in 10 believe government economic data are fabricated.
Republicans and Trump backers didn’t come to these conclusions independently. They learned them from the influential TV, radio and Web outfits whose imprimaturs Republican politicians desperately seek, and whose more troubling content these politicians have been reluctant to criticize.
When it comes to the paranoid, destructive excesses of right-wing media — not just Fox News’s headliners such as Sean Hannity, but also Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones — Republican leaders have been somewhat more reluctant to condemn or even gently critique.
That’s presumably because many of the crazy conspiracy theories circulated by these outlets served the party’s political interests. At least in the short term.
Birtherism, which Republican leaders were painfully slow to renounce, helped delegitimize the popular mandate of our first black president, even as it legitimized widespread racial resentment.
Trump is not some black swan, whose unique cocktail of charisma, telegenicism and political fluidity landed him the nomination. His nomination is the product of years of expert-delegitimizing right-wing media nonsense, which Republican politicians aided and abetted because it seemed politically expedient at the time. They helped the alt-right create the alternate reality that made a Trump nomination inevitable.
And unless the party establishment grapples with its own complicity in misinforming, misleading and frightening the masses, it’s doomed to field more Donald Trumps in the future.