Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Principled Republicans Just Want A Kinder, Gentler White Christian Nation

Don't get me wrong.  I welcome the condemnation of the malevolent orange shit-gibbon from many sides.  It is admirable that conservatives are (finally) speaking out about his mental and moral unfitness and against his worst outrages -- particularly his wholesale endorsement of white nationalism in the wake of Charlottesville and his pardon of fellow shit-gibbon and unrepentant white nationalist, Joe Arpaio.

But what these so-called principled Republicans don't seem to get -- or at least fail to acknowledge -- is how the most blatantly deplorable aspects of Trump's presidency were not only obvious from the get go, but they have long been embedded in Republican Party orthodoxy.

And so, the insufferable David Brooks, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, is "shocked, shocked" that the GOP has all-of-a-sudden become the "vehicle for white identity politics" and urges Republicans to distance themselves from Trump's exploitation of bigotry and white resentment.  Brooks explains that thanks to Trump, the Republican Party is no longer the Party of Lincoln, a party that has long fought bigotry and courageously supported civil rights.  As irrefutable proof, Brooks cites the fact that he "never heard blatantly racist comments at dinner parties" with his Republican friends in those halcyon pre-Trump days.  "Blatant" being the key word.

Brook conveniently elides what has been the Republican stock in trade since the implementation of Nixon's Southern Strategy.  Must we again go down memory lane with Ronald Reagan, who launched  his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a place notorious for the 1964 slaying of three civil rights workers, and gave the classic dog whistle speech about states' rights?  And for Exhibit B, how about the first George Bush's notorious Willie Horton ad? 

Republicans have long been expert at tapping into anxiety of white middle and lower class Americans about losing ground culturally and economically to African Americans and immigrants in order to get their vote and to justify tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of industry, and gutting social programs that have a disparate impact on people of color.  Support for states' rights, calls for curbing food stamps, blaming poverty on a "culture problem," referring to illegal aliens, expressing fear of the spread of Shariah law, and framing opposition to LGBT rights as "religious liberty" all get the message across without sounding overtly racist, bigoted, xenophobic or homophobic. 

Apparently the problem is that Trump is too undisciplined to use the dog whistle.  But he is really just a grotesque but natural extension of the Republican Party's ever increasing embrace of intolerance.  He is their Frankenstein.  Republicans like Brooks who are offended by Trump's vulgarity presumably would be fine with a less monstrous version -- with Mike Pence and his gentler brand of misogyny and religious intolerance. 

That brings us to Paul Rosenzweig, my old high school classmate as it turns out, who has written a smart, powerful plea to his fellow conservative legal scholars. He can’t understand how "members of the conservative legal movement" who supported Trump's election "don’t change their minds, even as the evidence of their error mounts."  Rosenzweig, like Brooks, clearly sees "the malignant deviancy that is the Trump presidency [as it] continues its steady erosion of core American principles."  And he provides a strong rebuttal to what he calls the "Gorsuch syndrome" -- the argument "that a good Supreme Court justice is worth all of the policy pain and political embarrassment that come with it." 

Rosenzweig argues that conservatives who are willing to "sell their souls" for a conservative court are "enabling the destruction of American values" for the narrow victory of a conservative judiciary.  He is absolutely right and deserves credit for standing up and saying it.  But what he misses is that the conservative judiciary that he and his colleagues have long agitated for -- and that energized the right wing base of the Party -- Trump's base -- to help put Trump in the White House -- is one that would roll back rights for women, for immigrants, for people of color and for the LGBT community.  So while Rosenzweig decries Trump's brazen misogyny, he applauds the appointment of Gorsuch and a judicial philosophy that would overturn Roe v. Wade and the affirm restrictions on women's reproductive rights.  While he bemoans Trump's embrace of racist ideology, he is apparently fine with the high court's restrictions on the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act that is permitting voter suppression efforts and diluting the votes of African Americans and Latinos.  And while he criticizes Trump's xenophobia, he supports judges that presumably would uphold Trump's Muslim ban.   

Republicans, like Brooks and Rosenzweig, who are not members the Trump cult, understand that the benefits to their Party are far outweighed by the dangers to our country.  They are essential to removing this disgraceful ignorant bigot from power.  But unless and until they come to terms with their Party's long and deep connection with the principles that allowed Trump to rise in the first place, we will be left with a major political party steeped in misogyny, racism, xenophobia and homophobia that will simply choose to put a lesser but still destructive evil in his place.

2 comments :

Cliff Greenberg said...

Is that really Paul Rosenzweig from GNN?
-cliff

Cliff Greenberg said...

Is that really Paul Rosenzweig from GNN?
-cliff

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