The alt-right was always one step away in the GOP

This past week, Hillary Clinton said THIS:

I don’t disagree with Secretary Clinton that Donald J. Trump receives credit for opening the door to the white supremacist/ alt-right movement (or the “so-called alt-right”, to quote Andrea Mitchell… so-called? How about self-identified????).  I would contend two additonal points.  First, the door was partially opened, when Trump got there. That’s how he made his way in.  Second, Trump’s additional “crime” is in taking the door off of its hinges and posting the “welcome” sign for supremacists when he was done.  The #GOP unlocked that dWelcome Signoor long ago, making room for Trump,  when it first nominated Goldwater , who virulently  opposed the civil rights bill.  The party has been toying with Goldwater-esque politics at varying depths since then.  

In reality, the #GOP has always tolerated racism from its candidates, as long as racism was carefully coded, enough so to allow a plausible deniability of anything untoward taking place.  The sentiment had to be “warm” – accompanied by a smile,  none of the bile dripping, vein popping, raging racism of the pre-civil rights movement.  It had to have finesse, and be described as benevolently patriarchial “concern” for minority groups.  It had to be inconsistent enough to create a sense of cognitive conflict by having its actors behave in ways that seemed to run counter to the charge of racism.  It was ok to hire individual minorities.  It was not ok to ensure equal access of opportunity for ALL minorities.  

Below are some of the #GOP’s greatest hits.  If they need explanation, you should talk to some of your progressive friends more often:

Richard M. Nixon (whose tendency toward grievance counting and vindictiveness is  often viewed as having the most direct connection to Trump’s brand of modern Republicanism)

The Nixon legacy: 

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

John Erhlichmann to Dan Baum, 1994

You tell me, did it work?  It would be easy to believe that Erhlichmann made it all up.  How could the Nixon WH view minorities, African-Americans, in particular, as being the enemies of the Republican Party?  Many African-Americans were still registered members of the party, right?  He won an enviable 32 percent of the African-American vote despite his reported disregard for African-American people.  The problem for those who are in denial regarding Nixon’s racist disposition is that there are over 265 hours of audiotape from the Nixon White House,  which confirm his prejudices against African-Americans,  Jewish-Americans, and many others.

 If you follow this Miller Center link, and listen to more of the recordings, his comments about  minority groups will make your hair stand on end. 

Ronald  Reagan  (who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968)

Source: Bill Moyers

Those comments are only shocking or confusing to those who supported Reagan.  To those who understood the real issues of poverty in minority communities, those comments were sad and unnecessarily divisive.  If this helps (current data, but consistent over time):

Income Spending Chart

Source:  NPR

Why is spending on food higher for low income people?  Impoverished and lower income people have household budgets, too, they aren’t buying steak and lobster.  They tend to live in communities, which rely on more “mom and pop” stores instead of major chains. Major chains have more buying power to pass lower costs on to consumers.  They offer fresher produce and more product choices. There is a huge grocery gap in our communities.   Low income individuals spend more money for food, but are able to buy less.  “Young Bucks” buying steak and lobster with food stamps while everyone else eats hamburger is more a figment of the racist and classist imagination than it is reality.

Consciously or unconsciously, Reagan’s supporters make a distinction that I refer to as the politicized Reagan vs. the projected Reagan.  Politicized Reagan is the person his non supporters see and judge based on the legislation he did (or did not support), and the rationales he gave – including the refusal to support sanctions against S. Africa. It is not always clear whether his choices were politically motivated or reflective of his true beliefs, but at some point it no longer matters.  He supported the frighening Goldwater,  fought civil rights legislation, was PUBLICLY unclear of whether he thought MLK, JR was a communist sympathizer, engaging in dog whistle politics despite the truth of the lives of minority people.  Of Dr. King, Reagan  wrote, to Gov. Meldrim Thomson (member of the John Birch society): “On the national holiday you mentioned, I have the reservations you have, but here the perception of too many people is based on an image, not reality. Indeed to them, the perception is reality. We hope some modifications might still take place in Congress.”

 The proejcted Reagan is the man I think his supporters, who were typically not impacted by his more unsavory beliefs and policies,  have chosen to believe in – despite all evidence to the contrary.  I see a  revisionist approach to the man, one which allows his supporters to view his  values as non-racist or non-harmful.  After all,  he was merely seeking to help minorities help themselves, wasn’t he?  They see him as someone who couldn’t have held racist sentiments because he occasionally said nice things about minorities  or displayed some act of contrition for a lousy thing he’d said or done.  I think it’s worth noting that Reagan’s most openly positive PERSONAL actions, regarding race, reported in the link above, occurred prior to his political transition.  As President, he spoke about overt acts of racism that he found troubling.  None of those feelings stopped him from promoting the false notions of welfare queens and young bucks buying steaks with food stamps.

10 Real Facts About Ronald Reagan That Republicans Never Choose to Admit

 

Jesse Helms (who attempted to filibuster the bill which created the MLK, Jr. Holiday)

“White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races.” – Ad created by campaign strategist Helms and friends for the blatantly racist (and successful) U.S. Senate campaign of Willis Smith in 1950. During the same campaign, Helms described UNC as “the University of Negroes and Communists.”  Creative Loafing 

The Helms Center denies any involvement, officially or unofficially, in the Smith campaign.  Then there is this:

Helms gained a political following in the 1960s as a commentator on Raleigh’s WRAL-TV and the Tobacco Radio Network with his denunciations of the civil rights movement, liberalism and communism.  As a senator, he explained that he voted against Roberta Achtenberg, President Clinton’s nominee for a Housing and Urban Development position, “because she’s a damn lesbian.”

“Let it GO! “, you say.  Everyone was racist, sexist, and homophobic in the 1950s and 60s, you say.  Well, that’s WRONG, I respond. Not everyone was racist, sexist, and homophobic.  That’s one of the reasons there was support for the Civil Rights bill and cross cultural participation in the movement.  Jesse Helms did not give up his beliefs after the Civil Rights movement (which he opposed). 

Same source:

When Helms encountered protesters during a visit to Mexico in 1986, he remarked: “All Latins are volatile people. Hence, I was not surprised at the volatile reaction.”

Let’s not forget his reported comments to Orin Hatch about Carol Moseley-Braun (D), the first elected  African-American female U.S. Senate, serving from 1993 to 1999:  “Watch me make her cry. I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries.”  The Helms Center,  of course, reports the interaction as much more  friendly. It adds that she heard his comments to Hatch and told him that his singing would make her cry if he sang “Rock of Ages”.  Awwww, see, racism can be warm and friendly too, depending on which side of that interaction you’re standing.  No need to realize that CMB managed to defuse an awful situation with humor…. just so those associated with the Helms Center know, slaves did not sing in the fields out of joy.

Strom Thurmond (who left the Democratic Party because of its support for 1964 Civil Rights Act)

His most famous quote – the unsanitized version?

“I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theatres into our swimming pools into our homes and into our churches.” 1948

The quote is reported with either “Nigger” or “Nigra” being used.  Which matters more? Neither.  What matters more is that by the time he uttered those words, Thurmond was the father of a 23 year old African- American woman named Essie Mae Washington-Williams.  He’d kept her hidden from the public.  Thurmond fathered her when he was 22 years old and Ms. Washington-Williams’ mother, Carrie Butler, was 16 years old and a maid working  in the Thurmond household.

When his daughter was 32 years old,  the then-Democrat, Thurmond had successfully filibustered the 1957 Civil Rights Act by speaking for more than 24 hours.  Would it surprise you to know that he supported Barry Goldwater in 1964?  No?  It shouldn’t. He did.  He also worked aggressively for Richard M. Nixon in 1968. 

Slate outlines the reasons why Thurmond’s later actions should not be treated as a repudiation of his earlier beliefs.  For me, the fact that he died, never acknowledging his daughter is sufficient.  She set the historical record straight, on her own, six months after her father’s death.

Steve King

For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.” July 2013, referring to Dreamers.

Calves the size of cantaloupes?  75 pound bags?  Ok, Whatever, Steve King.

(While in Cleveland, Ohio,  July 2016):  “This whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie. I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute to civilization?”

I’m sure if he’d just asked anyone who studied African-American history, or anyone who knew anything about that city, that they would have told him about Kentucky born Garrett Morgan, who made Cleveland, Ohio his home: Inventor of the first safety hood, one of the first stop lights, and a host of other inventions.  King’s race baiting comments are too numerous to name.

Paul LePage

Everything you need to know about this guy is summed up in the following statement: 

In addition to the GOP’s stand out all stars, above, there are the assorted bunch of racially insensitive characters (elected at all levels of government) whose actions mirror the above, to varying degrees.  I do not believe that all of the above are equal in terms of the depth of vulgarity of their approaches to race and racism.  I do believe they are tied to an ideology that binds them to the Republican party.  As stated earlier, Trump didn’t open the door to the alt-right, he just took the door off the hinges so that they could move about freely.  It is up to GOP voters and supporters as to whether the door is closed, or if they leave it open and allow the alt-right to eventually burn the party down.  The constant denial of its troubles with race will mean that the door can never be properly secured to keep out the fringe. If the party doesn’t start to look deeply into its soul  and then take action, it will never again be the party of Lincoln, in the way that it has hoped to be.  Their refusal to take action after the 2012 autopsy tells us that.

Let’s hope that post-Trump,  things change for the better.

 

 

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How Marco Rubio may have saved the Republican party

I scarcely see how any of the @GOP’s top 3 contenders has a shot at beating Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders this coming fall.  What I do believe is that Marco Rubio, whose campaign is all but finished, has most likely saved the Republican party from assured self-inflicted destruction this coming election cycle.  He hasn’t done it by demeaning the legacy of former President Jimmy Carter, a man whose personal and professional accomplishments CAN be named, unlike Rubio’s light/nonexistent accomplishments.

Rubio hasn’t saved his party by finally figuring out the cause of global climate change (he’s not a scientist, after all).  He has potentially saved his party, and Cruz’s political career, by exposing what appears to be Donald Trump’s biggest weakest.  Thin skin.  That is a trait that should make anyone ineligible to hold the nation’s highest office.

Say what you will about President Obama, but what you can’t say is that he ever let criticism stop him from focusing on his job while in office.  President Obama inherited an economy considered so frightfully in peril that then-candidate John McCain took the unprecedented move of suspending his Presidential campaign to “deal with the crisis”.  President Obama  is now presiding over an economy that:

Our President has continued to help push the nation forward in all areas of American life, despite dealing with an obstructionist congress that refuses to compromise and then blames him for not working with them. He has continued the push forward despite the scurrilous vicious attacks on his parents, wife, children, and extended family.  He has done so despite the vicious and cruel taunts, attacks, and repeated violations into the physical space that he and his family now call home.  THAT is the temperament we need in our national leader.

Has Donald J. Trump yet given a speech in which he hasn’t defended both his hand size and the size of his penis since the comment was made on Feb. 27th?  Trump’s focus on  Rubio’s comment was so intense that he marred the history of  presidential debates to respond to it.  An open defense of your member during a Presidential debate is not exactly the kind of “first” you want to be known for.  Rubio has called the man a con artist and implied that the issues with Trump University are so severe that Trump might even have engaged in criminal activity.  What gains traction to the point of distraction with Trump?  The hand size comment.  During a March 5th speech in West Palm Beach at Trump International, he faulted “someone else” for bringing up the comments about his hands, leading him to address the issue during the debate. (Personal Responsibility?)  To be clear, the comment was raised to put Rubio on the defensive for engaging in personal attacks after promising that he wouldn’t.  Trump was not asked to respond to it.  How much more presidential would Trump have looked had he not addressed the comment at all, but let Rubio twist over a broken promise?

Trump’s focus on Rubio’s comments is so intense that he even involved the golf champions at Trump International in a discussion about his “hands”.  He asks, “Do I hit the ball good?”, “Do I hit it long?”, “Is Trump Strong?”. (22:07)   Again, I doubt that most voters will see that as a presidential move.

 

Rubio seems to have thrown Trump off of his game plan (whatever that plan was).  At what point will we stop hearing about his member and more about the plans that will make a difference in the lives of the American people?  If you are looking for work, or worried about your mortgage, do you care about the size of Tump’s penis?  Can you imagine what would happen if Trump was in negotiations with international leaders who threw him off his game by commenting on his hand size?   How would he ever survive? Trump’s  ego and temperament have been called into question for some time.  In a comment that ran for less than 1 minute, Rubio has been able to show the American public yet another side to Trump, and caused Trump to spend approximately a week defending something that does not require a defense.  Will this win Trump voters in the general election? I doubt it.  Given Cruz’s comeback Saturday, Trump’s tactics may not play well in the GOP primary, either, moving forward.

Since the comments have been repeatedly uttered, blamed on others for raising the point, and uttered, again,  we learn that Trump has lost ground with later voting Republicans – while winning the early vote.  We have also learned that Kasich has pulled ahead of Trump in Michigan.  Will Rubio, win or lose, be heralded as true hero of the GOP this election cycle?  If so, he  finally has an accomplishment he and his supporters can talk about!  Is this the beginning of the end for Trump ?  Admittedly, Trump wasn’t supposed to make it this far, so only time will tell.

If Ted Cruz won Iowa, did Sarah Palin lose?

I am still trying understand what the value of Sister Sarah’s endorsement was, other than to provide Saturday Night Live with another winning political season.  SNL once again capitalized on the questionable phenomenon that is Sarah Palin by lampooning her bizarre and rambling endorsement. as seen in the video posted below.  (I would advise you to skip the actual endorsement in the first video and enjoy the pure comedic gold of the second video):

Palin endorsed Trump, prior to the Iowa Caucus,  without hesitation, she claims in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.  Despite her long held ties to Ted Cruz (Iowa 2016), despite the support she gave Cruz in his bid for national office during his Senate run, and her belief that he is a “true conservative”, Palin tells the Today Show hosts the following about Cruz: “I want to keep him in the Senate, and I want Donald Trump to be our president.” Why not?  Cruz has routinely distracted the Senate from the work that needed to be done in favor of throwing rotted red meat at those for whom his circus act plays well.

 

His ideological, highly unrealistic, approach to governing has not served the nation, nor his party, well in my opinion.  His legislative record is paltry, at best.  His most significant accomplishments in congress may be his ability to help shut down the government and to keep media attention on himself as he makes promises to his base that he is improbably going to be able to deliver.

Given the serious miscalculation of the value of Palin’s endorsement, and her inability to swing conservative voters into Trump’s camp in meaningful numbers,  this will hopefully be the end of the courtship of Palin by Republican pols. Trump, himself, now looks more like “Palin the Failed Promise” than “Donald the Future Leader”.  It now feels as if they  share the same penchant for saying anything, showing zero competence in discussing ANY issue,  ability to gloss over the reality of voter mood, and an ability to spew meaningless rhetoric.  We’eve been down that road, and ONE the individual who helped take us there in 2008 just endorsed Trump and probably cost him Iowa and the party’s nomination.

Ultimately, the greatest irony is that post Iowa, both Cruz and Trump are beginning to be viewed as placeholders for Marco Rubio.  No matter the outcome on the Republican side, this should be an interesting election season and one that should make Hillary Clinton feel optimistic about the election this coming fall.  Months, money, and motivation… down the drain, because in the end both Trump and Cruz will be stumping for a weak Rubio.

In any case, this all feels like a WIN for Hillary Clinton:

Trump is too much of a reminder of the obnoxious boss many people can’t wait to get away from.  He reminds you of the boss who sorely underpays you and then shows you the pictures of the expensive remodel on his grand new home.  Despite his recent run away from his comments that “wages are too high”, that comment will live with him.  Note that American hourly wages are too high.  I don’t recall any statement where Trump questioned the wages of the workers at the top.

Cruz is too much like that odd neighbor whose odd behavior leaves you feeling uncomfortable for reasons you can’t explain. You know enough to not to do business with him or leave him alone with your valuables.

Rubio?  Sigh. Poor Rubio.