February 7, 2017 Leave a comment
Excellent post from Jamelle Bouie. Who, non-coincidentally, will be the NCSU School of Public and International Affairs American ideals speaker on April 3 at 6pm (still working on the room). His talk will be “Civil Rights in the Age of Trump.” Free and open to the public. If you are local, please come.
Anyway, yesterday’s piece from Bouie:
They [Bannon, Miller, Sessions] are the architects of Trump’s policy, the executors of a frighteningly coherent political ideology.
What is that ideology? Most Americans think of “racism” in individualized terms. To call someone a “racist,” then, is to pass judgment on his or her character—a declaration that this person doesn’t belong in polite society. It’s why, when faced with the accusation, Americans often rush to deny any prejudice. I don’t have a racist bone in my body, goes the cliché. But individualized prejudice is just one way to think of racism. There’s also institutional bias or systemic outcomes—the things that lead critics to deem the criminal justice system as “racist.” And beyond the material, there’s racism as ideology—a structured worldview defined by support for race hierarchy and racial caste…
In this usage, white nationalist isn’t a pejorative; it’s the best term we have for the ideology of the Trump administration, one that gives coherence to its actions and approach. White nationalist helps us see how the expansive refugee ban is tied to the efforts to deny government benefits to legal residents and is tied to the promise by Trump to protect entitlements for those who receive them. It helps us see how his “populism” excludes tens of millions of Americans, and why he seems more interested in narrow enthusiasm versus broad popularity. And it gives a sense of what might follow in a Trump administration: not just demonization of disfavored minorities but possible attempts to expand the welfare state for the “deserving,” defined by race—a kind of welfare chauvinism. As he did during the campaign, Trump may adopt slogans and ideas from the left and right, not because he’s really a conservative or really a liberal, but because white nationalism exists outside the familiar divide. It confounds the left-right spectrum as we understand it in the United States. Trumpish policy won’t fall neatly into our old categories of liberal and conservative. Instead, it will turn on the question of what strengthens this basic notion that ours is a white nation.
Democrats, liberals, leftists, and dissident conservatives can dissent and resist, but the only party with the power to challenge Trump and win is the Republican Party, which controls Congress and may soon (again) have a majority on the Supreme Court. But the GOP is too complacent and complicit in the rise of Trump, too willing in its past and present to tolerate or even encourage appeals to white racial tribalism and ethno-nationalism. Indeed, in some regards, Trump is the logical conclusion of a process that began when Barry Goldwater opened his arms to Southern segregationists in his crusade for “liberty.” Besides, Republican leaders like Paul Ryan have embraced Trump as a vehicle for their conservative ideological agenda, content to back the president’s agenda for racial exclusion as long as he cuts health care, cuts taxes, and delivers the federal judiciary. [emphasis mine]
When you look at Trump’s faux populism, his inconsistent commitment to economic conservatism, what you are left with as animating principle is nativism.