Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On Bonzo and Nazis

Again, I say we're having an Eighties flashback.

Remember when President Ronald Reagan sought racist votes, got enthusiastically endorsed by the Klan, and weaselly defended Apartheid in South Africa? 

Indeed, speaking of weaselly defenses, cuddly Ronnie defended his infamous Bitburg Cemetery visit by saying that the Nazi SS officers buried there “were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."  Trump’s recent false equivalency falls in the exact same category. 

I'm not saying Trump isn't worse, just that there is a Reagan administration precedent. It's the same Southern Strategy with less finesse. Apparently, Lee Atwater was more adroit than Stephen Bannon. He was definitely more subtle.* In hindsight, I'm kind of surprised that "The Donald" did not launch his presidential bid in Philadelphia, Mississippi, as "The Gipper" did.

I am not trying to muffle outrage or disgust, but this shit goes back to the 1964 Goldwater campaign. It's GOP SOP. Let's not pretend those Willie Horton ads that elected George Bush Sr. never aired.

Trump's just a symptom - not the cause - of a longstanding problem. Dumping him won't end it. It will help some, of course; but it will not be a silver bullet.

A lot of history has to be acknowledged and confronted.


* EDIT: And speaking of Steve Bannon (now out), how different is Donald Trump hiring him from Ronald Reagan having fascist enthusiast Pat Buchanan as his White House Communications Director?

I'm certainly not the first to compare Donald and Ronald. The similarities are legion - so much so that you can find several on the topic of racism alone. But that's largely because conservatism is prone to it and thus there is a history of the right capitalizing on it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Gangrene Analogy

Sigh. Centrists are still blaming Trump's election on third parties.

Since no amount of data will ever convince them, I have decided to appeal to their unreasoning prejudice with an ugly analogy they might like. Of course, this won't work. But this might at least help them grasp what I am talking about. Let's start with some uncontroversial facts that I have mentioned before:

1) Third parties exist, have always existed, and always will exist. Period. 

2) They take away from both major parties, both collectively and individually.

3) But they are never a serious factor unless one major party really fucks up. 

For example, there were third parties when Barack Obama ran in 2008 and 2012. They did not cease to exist during that time. But he didn't need to worry about them for some reason. Why?

Because he had charisma and inspired. Also, he didn't lose the Rust Belt because a) he saved Detroit with the auto bailout and b) he actually seriously campaigned in the region instead of blowing those voters off as Hillary Clinton did on top of defending NAFTA. Most Clintonista arguments hinge on forgetting that President Barack Obama ever existed, but I'll explore that in another post.

The point here is: If your excuse for losing is "We would have won too, if it weren't for you meddling kids," then maybe you should factor for the existence of third parties. Because a strategy that doesn't is, by definition, a spectacularly stupid strategy. Hinging voter turnout solely on guilt trips is also obviously ill-advised. Obama did not do that. He was more than just "not John McCain" or "not Mitt Romney."

So, what's my analogy? Germs. Third parties are like germs.

I expect centrists will love this analogy because germs are tiny and dangerous. And of course because the analogy is sufficiently insulting to third parties. I'm honestly surprised they haven't made it themselves.

Yeah, germs are tiny; but they are also always there. Germs get in everything. They are literally in the air we breathe everyday and wishing them away will not work. Nor will guilt trips. So, when you cut yourself, clean the wound, apply disinfectant, and a bandage. Do this immediately. Do NOT let it fester.

Politically, this means do not betray labor or patronize progressives if you are a Democrat. If you or your predecessors have in the past, make credible amends and tend to those wounds. Obama did that and thus won. He got that these constituencies are the foot soldiers in the ground game of any campaign. As I wrote before, they do the shit work of making cold calls and licking envelopes. Who shows up for Democratic Party phone banks? Mostly hard hats and hippies. Sapping their enthusiasm is self-sabotage.

Evangelicals perform the same function for Republicans. Any GOP candidate who didn't attend to their issues would be seriously weakened - to say nothing of the consequences openly mocking them. There is a reason why "shooting yourself in the foot" is a durable idiom. Don't bash your party's activists. Don't shoot your foot soldiers in their feet. They can't canvas neighborhoods as well after that.

Well, the Democrats' foot wounds have been festering for decades - ever since yuppie fuckwit Gary Hart declared the New Deal coalition dead in 1974. Centrists have been using salt instead of disinfectant.

So, if you do neglect to disinfect your wounds or bandage them up and find yourself getting your leg amputated because of gangrene, do not blame the fucking germs. Blame yourself.

Because third parties only have the power you give them.