Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Trump and Race: Trumpism "Corresponds to the Geography of White Racial Resentment in the United States"

When you click to watch the video at the head of the posting, you'll discover that The Guardian's distinguished journalist Steven Thrasher thinks that Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the U.S. Why? Hint: it's about the venerable American tradition of meeting civil rights breakthroughs with fierce, ugly reaction that tries to set back those who have just experienced a breakthrough in the area of rights. And so Thrasher asks, Following the election of the nation's first African-American president, why shouldn't we expect the United States to follow that development with the "meanest, whitest, most vile bigot possible"?

It's the American way!

And yet, as piles of undeniable evidence that Trump's rise to power is fueled by raw racism accumulate, the mainstream media continue to pretend, to sing and dance around the Trump phenomenon, speaking of "angry" white working-class voters whose anger is somhow justified because they have been betrayed by a "system" that, we're led to believe, they have presumably not chosen by their own racially driven voting patterns for years now. At Vox, Matthew Yglesias writes

Over the weekend, Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin in the New York Times published a 2,000-word account of how Donald Trump managed to execute "a hostile takeover of one of America's two major political parties." Remarkably, the idea of racism never appears in the article. 
Race is alluded to at one point in the article, but it's kind of backdoor and offered essentially as a form of false consciousness argument attributed to Robert Putnam. Closer to the top, the authors observe that "Trump is an unlikely spokesman for the grievances of financially struggling, alienated Americans: a high-living Manhattan billionaire who erects skyscrapers for the wealthy and can easily get politicians on the phone."

But as Yglesias goes on to say, it's absurd to talk about Trump's rise without discussing racism, when the dominance of Trumpism in the South and Northeast, two otherwise very different regions, very neatly "corresponds to the geography of white racial resentment in the United States":

We also know that Trump rose to political prominence based on the allegation that America's first black president wasn't a real American at all, and launched his 2016 campaign with the allegation that Mexican immigrants to the United States are largely rapists and murders.

Neither Chauncey DeVega nor Jamelle Bouie is prepared to let the mainstream media do this shameful song and dance around Trump's racism and how it appeals to angry white voters — certainly not as the name of a notorious white supremacist who has paid for Trump robocalls pops up on the list of his delegates in California. Here's Chauncey DeVega at Salon this morning on who's supporting Mr. Trump and why:

Republicans form the core of Donald Trump’s base of support. White, angry, entitled, nativist, bigoted, and racist voters constitute the base of the Republican Party in the Age of Obama and the post-civil rights era. While a lazy corporate news media has tried to spin the rise of Donald Trump as some type of aberration for the Republican Party and movement conservatism, he is instead the logical outcome and spawn of at least five decades of right-wing social and economic policies.

And here's Jamelle Bouie at Slate shaming lazy media pundits who want to pretend that there's some "moderate" Trump lurking inside Campaign Trump, and we're about to see that moderate Trump pivot and reveal himself: 

If there's one constant in Trump's rhetoric, from his role in the "birther" movement five years ago to his present campaign, its his nativism, his anti-Muslim attitudes, his assorted flavors of bigotry. His opening campaign gambit was mass deportation coupled with a wall along the Mexican border—a position he still holds. Later that fall, he bolstered his intra-Republican Party popularity with a call to ban Muslims from the United States. He boosts racists on social media, is friendly (or at least not-hostile) to real-life white supremacists, and has refused to disavow anti-Semitic attacks from his online supporters. Even now, after winning the GOP nomination, he indulges misogyny and misogynistic attacks. 
In the 10 months since he launched his campaign for president, Trump has showed the extent to which bigotry sits at the center of his persona.

Jamelle Bouie thinks that, given who Trump is and what he stands for, the self-serving narrative of many mainstream media types which declares that black and Latino voters came out to vote in large numbers for Barack Obama but will sit out the 2016 elections is going to turn out to be wildly wrong: 

The standard narrative for nonwhite voting in a presidential year is this: Before Barack Obama, blacks and Latinos turned out to vote in modest and static numbers. After Obama’s 2008 campaign, they began to vote in droves, transforming the American electorate. Now, with Obama and his historic candidacy off of the ballot, they’ll return to the sidelines
Every part of this narrative is wrong. . . . 
So far, the story of the 2016 election is the story of Donald Trump and the rise of militant white identity politics. But come November, we may have to revise that for another narrative thread: the rise of a powerful nonwhite electorate, and how it helped save the country from its worst impulses.

And God, I hope he's right. For the sake of the nation. For the sake of the whole world.

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