The Timing of Trump’s Most White Nationalist Week Yet – Ian Reifowitz | Daily Kos

The Timing of Trump’s Most White Nationalist Week Yet

Ian Reifowitz | Daily Kos

The bait and switch: it’s one of the oldest tricks in politics — one of the oldest tricks in life. It’s a fundamentally dishonest ploy, and typically appeals to vulnerable people’s most base instincts in order to get them to, as the term suggests, take the bait. Donald Trump is a master at it.

Trump’s Electoral College victory relied heavily on support from white working-class voters.

According to data from the Voter Study Group analyzed by Lee Drutman, Trump won 27 percent of the “populists” — people who are economically left-of-center, i.e. supporters of social spending in general, but conservative on racial and cultural identity issues — who had voted for Barack Obama four years earlier.   

Furthermore, 14 percent of these Obama-voting populists picked a minor party candidate in 2016. Hillary Clinton won only 59 percent of the populists who went for Obama.

On the flip side, Trump held on to 93 percent of the populists who had voted for Mitt Romney, and almost none went to Secy. Clinton, while Trump won 43 percent of the populists who had voted for a minor party candidate in 2012. Clinton won only 15 percent of them, and the rest went to other candidates.

Trump got these populist Obama supporters to vote for him by appealing to their racial and cultural identity issues, while at the same time reassuring them that he would not be a typical Republican who favored the rich by promising more infrastructure spending than his Democratic opponent, taking a hard protectionist stance on trade, etc.

How do we know the latter worked? Obama-Trump voters told us so. They clearly identified Trump as a different kind of Republican — only 21 percent of them said his economic policies would favor the rich, while 40 percent of them said Congressional Republicans would, and 42 percent said Congressional Democrats would (it wasn’t either/or, each respondent was asked about all three separately). As Jamelle Bouie noted:

“For the first time in recent memory, populist voters didn’t have to prioritize their values. They could choose liberal economic views and white identity, and they did.”

Obama-Trump voters are not the only voters worth going after. I am using them here as a proxy for people who voted for Trump but who are absolutely gettable votes for Democrats.

Trump sold them a bill of goods, and he has not delivered. However, with a number of policies put forth in just the past week, he is doing his best to re-sell them all over again.

After Democrats recently issued their “Better Deal” plan, a set of proposals aimed directly at the wallets of Americans struggling to make ends meet, the Trump White House knew what it had to do. He couldn’t tout any populist economic policies he’d enacted — because no such policies exist.

The most substantial policy he’d gotten behind as president has been a Republican-only health care plan that would result in tens of millions losing their health coverage in order to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest.

The various Trumpcare plans were so unpopular — even 60 percent of Republicans disapproved of their party’s handling of the issue according to a recent Quinnipiac poll — in large part because the American people saw them, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, as right-wing, trickle-down economics on steroids.

The same goes for his official tax plan, cooked up in partnership with the Koch Brothers.

On trade, he’s passed nothing and hasn’t even made progress toward any kind of change.

How about that $1 trillion infrastructure plan? Nothing there either.

So what did Trump do this past week?

He brought out cultural wedge issues all over the map:

Some, like his hare-brained, half-witted “announcement” banning transgender Americans from serving in the armed forces, were aimed at the religious conservatives who are his most loyal true believers.

Other proposals, i.e., those seeking to counter affirmative action and to restrict immigration — in part by giving a preference for those who already speak English — are right in the sweet spot of white cultural and racial anxiety.

Finally, although it wasn’t a formal proposal, Trump’s truly sickening remark — it was no joke, as Jelani Cobb explained — encouraging police to abuse suspects upon their arrest was another dog whistle aimed at those “law and order” enthusiasts who rallied behind him in 2016.

Importantly, police pushed back hard against Trump’s suggestion. Additionally, on July 26, in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump also used graphic, inflammatory language in describing violent crimes committed by those here illegally, without citing any specifics about where such a thing happened:

And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others, and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die.

In other words, it was a banner week for Steve Bannon and his ally in white nationalism, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Alex Shephard wrote at the New Republic that these types of actions reflect Trump’s declaration of an “all-out culture war.”

Trump understands that if the next election is fought over economic issues, Democrats will do much better than if it is fought over non-economic issues — especially now that he’s been exposed as just another Republican on economics. GOP economic policies are harmful to the majority of Americans, and a majority of Americans know it.

Democrats need to force the Obama-Trump populists, and other voters who are reachable on economic issues, to do what Bouie said they didn’t have to do in 2016, namely choose between a party who will not help their family’s bottom line and a party that has and will continue to do so.

Even more than that, Democrats must emphasize that Trump pushes those racially divisive issues specifically because his actual economic plans won’t help them.

Let’s talk about that immigration proposal, for example. He claims it will help American workers, but actual evidence demonstrates that it will do the opposite. UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri summed it up thusly: “the average American worker is more likely to lose than to gain from immigration restrictions.”

Trump’s immigration restriction plan has no chance of getting through a Congress where enough members of the Republican majority still have their bread buttered by corporate interests that rely on cheap, unskilled labor.

The plan is merely an attempt at distraction, another bait and switch — just like the Mexican wall Trump made a central selling point to voters for more than a year before admitting within days of taking office that it was “the least important thing,” although “politically it might be the most important.” Of course, Trump never meant the American people to hear that truthful admission.

Trump’s economic policies are simply old-fashioned Republican ones, through and through. They will send wealth up the chain while the middle and working classes suffer.

Even on the racially and culturally divisive issues he pushes to distract from that fact, Trump cares much more about politics than actually delivering.

Democrats must make sure voters understand that.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of Obama’s America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity (Potomac Books).

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  • Clyde Duncan  On August 9, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Another USA policeman has Walked Free after Shooting an Unarmed non-White Student Dead

    A few days ago, Trump encouraged police officers to rough up criminals they arrest as though police forces were made for exacting vigilante justice rather than handing people over to the legal system and letting that system do its impartial work.

    Where exactly is my country headed? It’s as embarrassing as it is frightening

    Mohammed Fairouz | Independent UK

    In December of 2016, a student by the name of Saif Al Ameri was shot and killed by a police officer in Ohio. After a few months of paid leave, the officer was acquitted. Ryan Doran was given a clean bill of legal health a few days ago.

    Nothing will stitch the life back into Saif.

    Some reports say that Al Ameri was driving under the influence. Others say that he was driving erratically. The officer says that Al Ameri reached for the officer’s gun. And he “felt afraid” for his life.

    The grand jury acquitted this officer as they have acquitted literally hundreds of other police officers who have attacked unarmed young men in America.

    If it seems crazy that this 26-year-old young adult with no previous criminal record and who had no weapon constituted a real threat that was serious enough to make a fully trained and lethally armed police officer fearful for his life then it’s because it is crazy to think that – Totally crazy.

    There are situations where it is easy to imagine officers fearing for their lives; situations like those where weapons of war are made available to civilians.

    But Saif was in no position to outgun the police. Far from having automatic weapons, Saif Al Ameri was – I’ll say this once again – UNARMED.

    What is even crazier is that we’re also supposed to buy the narrative that this officer could not stun or neutralise a threat from his victim with a single bullet. He had to shoot the gun FIVE TIMES over.

    But here’s the deeper force behind this incident; the issue that has played a hand in shaping each and every one of the hundreds of incidents in which police officers in the USA kill unarmed people.

    It doesn’t matter if Al Ameri was driving erratically. It doesn’t matter if he was smoking marijuana. It doesn’t even matter if he was acting in a disorderly way – he wasn’t, according to every USA report I’ve read.

    What matters here is that the officer isn’t there to judge Al Ameri using a hunch based on the way his victim-to-be was acting.

    If the officer assessed that Al Ameri was doing something illegal, his job would’ve been to arrest him, read him his rights and bring him to a court of law.

    Ryan Doran is a foot soldier. His job is to be an officer and enforcer of the law.

    Instead he acted as judge, jury and executioner. He undermined the rule of law by making a judgement to take drastic action in the heat of the moment. He based his judgment on gut and instinct.

    And let’s make no mistake: these gut instincts that inform officers to go after innocent people are not spawned in a vacuum. They’re born of the worst human impulses.

    Just a few months before Al Ameri was killed, the Emirati businessman Ahmed Al Menhahi was standing outside his hotel, wearing the clothes that Emirati men wear in the UAE, when he was brutalised by Ohio police. The police assaulted and savaged Al Menhali to the point that the beatings landed him in a hospital bed.

    While searching for alternate accommodations during his stay in Cleveland for medical treatment, he was wrongly accused of pledging allegiance to ISIS by a hotel clerk who didn’t speak the language that he was speaking on his mobile phone and didn’t know that the clothes he was wearing have nothing to do with ISIS, but are rather the national dress of one of the United States’ key allies in the fight against that terrorist group.

    Al Menhali tried to explain that he was not a terrorist with the words: “These are the clothes that Jesus wore.”

    But the people who rang the false alarm in Al Menhali’s case as well as the police officers who assaulted Al Menhali and killed Al Ameri have a limited view of the world.

    Their narrow fields of vision saw clothes they didn’t know about. They heard a language they didn’t understand. They saw people who looked like they came from somewhere they didn’t want to know about or want to understand.

    Fear of the unknown is a powerful thing.

    There are complex forces shaping the world that many Americans are simply ill-equipped to comprehend.

    An alchemy of paranoia and violence is causing Americans to turn against each other at home and away from the world.

    You’d think that the president of a country like this would try to reassure his people by sizing up challenges and outlining ways to overcome them.

    Instead, Donald Trump, our “law and order” President, offers bleak fantasies of “American carnage.”

    In the first interview of the Trump era, he stated that “the world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets.”

    A few days ago, Trump encouraged police officers to rough up criminals they arrest as though police forces were made for exacting vigilante justice rather than handing people over to the legal system and letting that system do its impartial work.

    But a tempered and just legal system requires respect for the judiciary.

    In the summer of 2016, when Al Menhali was being beaten by police, Trump was busy denigrating a USA-born federal judge. Now he is shaping the judiciary into something unrecognisable, with appointments of judges who lash out against sitting Supreme Court justices.

    When America elected Donald Trump, whose rallies produced the mobs who chanted “lock her up” and who threatened his political opponent with imprisonment, we took a confident step in the direction of looking like a dangerous banana republic.

    Today we’re not simply looking the part. We’re acting it too. Many of our closest friends can hardly recognise us.

    If America is seen to be a nation that cannot uphold the rule of law then even our friends will not feel confident visiting the United States of America.

    This includes citizens of countries who come here for study, healthcare and business; people who the USA wants (and needs) to deal with. The day when we have to question whether America can guarantee safe passage to its guests is a wake-up call that demands we take a long hard look at our national transformation.

    From the Supreme Court down to the officers tasked and trusted with enforcing law and order, America has witnessed a steady unravelling of the rule of law.

    There were roughly 30,000 people in the USA who fell as victims to gun violence last year. Over 900 of them were killed by police. The vast majority were American citizens.

    But one fatality in the United States last year was a 26-year-old Emirati who was executed by police and whose death was not atoned for in the courts.

    He had nothing to do with the fears and divisions plaguing America today and should have been left out of the vile crossfire of this nation’s conversation about gun violence and law enforcement.

    He didn’t sign on to be a part of that conversation.

    He was just a student at Case Western University in Ohio. He came over to the United States of America to study law. The irony shouldn’t be lost on anybody.

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