The Plutocrats’ Dreams Come True

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Though many others have done the job, Aardvark has been pressed to make some remark on the soon-to-be-enacted tax bill.

When I was young, a long time ago, there was a strange political alliance between Southern racists and Northern economic progressives. Then, Kennedy and Johnson betrayed the racists by enacting civil rights legislation. That gave the plutocrats a golden opportunity to ally with the racists to advance plutocratic ends. Goldwater seized the opportunity. Reagan seized the opportunity. As did many others. But they tried to be gentlemanly about it.

Now when I was but knee high to a grasshopper, we used to have a saying: if you put on your white shoes and walk through a cow pasture, no matter how careful you are, there’s going to be a little brown on those shoes when you get to the other side.

For about forty years, many of the plutocrats could tolerate a little racist shit on their shoes, as long as there wasn’t too much of it, and the room remained well ventilated.

Then, in 2016, the plutocrats and their politician sock puppets made a discovery: the way truly to win the hearts and minds of the racists is to provide loud and full throated validation of their racism.

Adam Serwer dissects the issue admirably in The Nationalist’s Delusion. Please read it all. Key passage:

Trump’s great political insight was that Obama’s time in office inflicted a profound psychological wound upon many white Americans, one that he could remedy by adopting the false narrative that placed the first black president outside the bounds of American citizenship. He intuited that Obama’s presence in the White House decreased the value of what W. E. B. Du Bois described as the “psychological wage” of whiteness across all classes of white Americans, and that the path to their hearts lay in invoking a bygone past when this affront had not taken place, and could not take place.

That the legacy of the first black president could be erased by a birther, that the woman who could have been the first female president was foiled by a man who confessed to sexual assault on tape—these were not drawbacks to Trump’s candidacy, but central to understanding how he would wield power, and on whose behalf.

Americans act with the understanding that Trump’s nationalism promises to restore traditional boundaries of race, gender, and sexuality. The nature of that same nationalism is to deny its essence, the better to salve the conscience and spare the soul.

Some have criticized Serwer’s analysis as “defeatist,” meaning that to acknowledge the racist basis for Trump’s electoral college victory is to give up on persuading white people to vote for the economic interests instead of their prejudices. But that point of view is wrongheaded. I’m all for encouraging poor white racists to vote with their pocketbooks in mind. But you can still try to do that and yet recognize reality.

So listen to Fareed Zakaria:

[W]hat if people are not being fooled at all? What if people are actually motivated far more deeply by issues surrounding religion, race and culture than they are by economics? There is increasing evidence that Trump’s base supports him because they feel a deep emotional, cultural and class affinity for him. And while the tax bill is analyzed by economists, Trump picks fights with black athletes, retweets misleading anti-Muslim videos and promises not to yield on immigration. Perhaps he knows his base better than we do.

Oh, yes, he knows his base. And now the plutocrats and their sock puppets know, too. And that knowledge has led to a great leap forward in their attempt to turn America into Guatemala, with a few very rich people and a lot of very poor people.

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