Trumpism

Is there anybody doing a better job providing insights on Trump this year than Josh Marshall?  Ezra has some great columns, but here’s another terrific one from Marshall on the meaning of Trumpism.  Of course, you should read it in its entirety, but this wouldn’t be Fully Myelinated if I didn’t post my favorite parts:

I don’t want to attempt some grand overarching theory of Trumpism. But, broad brush, I continue to believe that it is best understood as a reaction to the erosion of white privilege, supremacy and centrality in American life. [emphases mine]

That brings us to the second key point: Trumpism is about loss. And that loss is real. It’s not just about being haters or uneducated or stupid. The fact that what’s being lost is in most respects something that wasn’t legitimate to have in the first place – status, centrality and racial privilege – should not blind us to the fact that the loss is real and that it will have political consequences. As I mentioned when I wrote up that mortality study last December, I think this demographic and actuarial marker – an almost unprecedented reversal of a particular group’s mortality statistics – is hugely significant to understanding our contemporary politics. It almost unquestionably points to some acute socio-cultural stress. It’s just a matter of discovering what it is.

Consider this chart.

I looked this up when I started looking at the polls showing Hillary Clinton competitive or even in some polls ahead of Donald Trump in Georgia. There’s a powerful story here. If you were a 25 year old white man in Georgia in 1980, you lived in a state that was almost literally black and white. And whites were the overwhelming majority of the population. A mere thirty six years later the picture is dramatically different. According to the 2015 US Census estimate, non-Hispanic whites make up only 53.9% of the population. The African-American population makes a up slightly larger percentage of the population – I assume descendants of the early 20th Great Migrationreturning to the state. The same year Hispanics made up 9.4% of the population, Asian-Americans made up 4% and the remainder is made up of citizens who identified as being of multiple races or ‘other’. If you identify politically and culturally with your whiteness this is a profound and profoundly unsettling change…

But if you look at the language of Trumpism we see repeated references to getting stuff back, reclamation, anger. This is a politics of loss and grievance. The appeal of an extreme dominance politics is particularly to those who feel they’ve lost power and who feel increasingly marginal to the direction of the country as a whole…

You don’t need to hate non-whites to be attached to the dominant position whites have historically had in American life. But if you identify with your whiteness, simple majorities mean security. Losing that dominance, if you don’t feel able or ready or willing to relinquish it almost inevitably generates hatred and a desire for revenge.

What is that quality, that politics? In any other country, we’d easily know what to call it: ethnic nationalism. In this case, white nationalism. For very good reason, those two words are extremely charged in American political and cultural life. They seem synonymous with ‘white supremacist’, with folks like David Duke, neo-nazis and all the other list of horribles. It’s not quite the same thing. But at its heart, simply as a matter of definitional clarity, that’s what Trumpism is: the politics of white nationalism.

Yep.  Though, that does strike me as just too loaded.  I have taken to unashamedly referring to Trump’s “white ethnocentric” appeal in interviews.  But, hey, whatever, you call it, that is clearly what is going on here and it sure is hell not a healthy direction for our country.

And, yes, this post is already long enough, but I may as well put it here instead of quick hits, but there’s also a very good Jamelle Bouie piece about how Trump’s supposed appeal to Black voters is completely part of his appeal to white voters (in this case, college-educated white voters):

But as with his rhetorical moves on immigration, the content of Trump’s message is less important and less interesting than the audience he’s trying to reach. Hint: He’s not trying to win over black voters. If that were true, Trump would have made this pitch at a black church or any other space where black Americans are in wide attendance. And while Trump has an uncanny ability to convince himself of virtually anything, he must know that he stands little chance of winning even a sliver of the black vote, which has turned decisively against his candidacy.

No, the point here—and the overall goal of this latest “pivot”—is to salvage Trump’s standing with college-educated whites, who have turned decisively against the alleged billionaire for his outright bigotry and general buffoonery…

The goal is straightforward: If Trump seems more normal and less erratic, then he could begin to win those white college-educated voters who are critical to victory in states like Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. For Team Trump, it’s a simple equation. If those voters are turned off by his racist rhetoric, then he could address their fears by loudly reaching out to black voters. It’s an old strategy, meant to assure a critical set of Republican-leaning voters that they aren’t backing a bigot.

Conway [Trump’s new campaign manager] herself gave away the game in a Sunday interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “I live in a white community. I’m white. I was very moved by his comment,”

And Bouie’s conclusion is spot-on:

Yes, Trump is aiming some rhetoric at the center of American politics. Yes, he’s doing “outreach.” But don’t mistake this for some kind of “pivot.” There is no pivot. Trump has one move for this election, and he is going to keep playing it and playing it until he loses.

As for that “move,” well let’s just say it’s not about economic anxiety.

Advertisements

Photo of the day

So many incredible images in this Reuters gallery of best of Rio.  Something about this one particularly appealed to me.

Jennifer Oeser of Germany watches as athletes compete in 10,000m final. REUTERS/David Gray

Party systems and Donald Trump

So, I had a really fun conversation on Friday with a number of new NCSU Park Scholars (the best and brightest with the full NCSU scholarship).    I fielded a number of good questions on Donald Trump, third parties, and the nature of the US Party system.  I got back to my office and read this piece in Vox and was amazed at how much of the same ground was explored.  This covers a tremendous amount of good stuff on party systems in the US and Europe, third parties, ideology in US versus Europe, Donald Trump, etc., in a pretty short amount of space.  Well worth your time.  That said, as always, my favorite parts anyway:

There are indigenous reasons why Donald Trump — a demagogic, incompetent, racist ignoramus — is one of only two people who have a chance to become the next president of the United States. Trump’s rise, for example, can certainly be linked to the lazy American veneration of “practical” knowledge that the successful “self-made” businessman is alleged to provide. (Such men were seen even in the early 19th century as … “an overwhelming counterpoise to reflection in this country,” as Richard Hofstadter put it in his 1963 book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.) But it is really the unique structure of our political system and the historical development of the Republican Party that has converted Trump from a cheap pop-cultural laugh to a national menace…

In the United States, the ethno-nationalist candidate heads a major party

It’s true that all over Europe, ethno-nationalist splinter parties have taken increasingly larger percentages of the vote in recent elections, a development correlated with an increasing influx of noncitizens to these nations. But none of these parties have come close to gaining even a large plurality, let alone a majority of voters, in any one country…

This means that while it is easier in Europe than the United States to create reasonably successful secondary parties with extreme anti-immigrant, ethno-nationalist views — parties hostile to liberal values — at the same time such parties tend to remain subordinate to major parties…

In the United States, however, there is no place for the sizable minority of racist and ethno-nationalist voters to go except within a major party. And there is also no place for elites of that party to go. If this were Europe, Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell might accept some tactical support from an interloping right-wing party but vigorously distance themselves from that party’s more noxious views and its leading politicians. Here, they can’t renounce Trump without renouncing the muscle and bones of their own political organization and its nominating convention… [emphasis mine]

The Republican Party is unlike any other major or minor conservative party in the advanced world

The Republican Party is not only a major party — which, in fact, controls most of the state governments in the United States — it is also sui generis in its ideology. Ethno-nationalist parties in Western Europe, and also the mainstream conservative parties there, do not oppose the large welfare states in their respective nations. Rather, members of the ethno-nationalist parties tend to be what political scientists have called “welfare chauvinists”: They endorse full public services and social insurance for native-born citizens only, seeking to cut off new immigrants…

Ethno-nationalist or not, European rightist parties accept the central tenets of the mixed economy. By contrast, following the juridical collapse of the white supremacist “solid South” of the Democratic Party and the dramatic cultural and economic changes forged by the Civil Rights and feminist movements, the Republican Party, over time, came to encompass racially and culturally anxious white Southern voters. These voters joined with the party’s existing anti-“big government” and anti-union business class that had vehemently opposed the New Deal.

In short, those in opposition to the federal government’s regulation of the economy and defense of workers by labor unions combined in a single party with those who feared the end of racial and gender norms and hierarchies in social and family life. While elderly white Republicans came to enjoy the Social Security and Medicare of their own dedicated welfare state — a kind of welfare gerontocracy, as opposed to the European right’s welfare chauvinism — they resisted the expansion of similar programs to others deemed less deserving.

Plenty more good stuff.  Read it.

%d bloggers like this: