Can’t Hide Republican Racism

In case you were worried that “conservatives” would stop producing high comedy in their desperate attempts to obfuscate their gross immorality and irresponsibiltiy, do not despair. One Matt Mackowiak to the rescue!

Mr. Mackowiak is actually attempting an honorable, but impossible, feat. He admits the obvious: Donald Trump “is clearly a racist.” That’s good.

But he admits the obvious in a desperate attempt to deny the equally obvious, larger point: it is precisely Trump’s racism that makes him such an attractive Republican, to everyone but the Party leadership.

And the problem with Trump’s racism for the Republican Party leadership is not the fact of it, but it’s galloping lack of subtlety.

The Republican Party leadership never much minded racism in its dog whistle forms, so long as it helped them win presidential elections, as it did for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and the elder George Bush. The younger Bush didn’t win in 2000, and in 2004, he had the psychologically gratifying substitute of demonizing same sex marriage to rely on. Serious problems arose in 2008 when a candidate who was not well versed in the fine art of dog whistle racism lost to a man who should have been easy pickings because he was black, or at least black enough that most people saw him as such.

This event really undid the long standing bargain between the Republican leadership and the Party’s base. The leadership implicitly promised the base that they could continue their white supremacist fantasies indefinitely so long as they voted for Republican officials who pursued policies that actively harmed the base under the ruse that all they were doing was preventing those lazy blacks from getting benefits they did not deserve out of the tax dollars of hard working white people.

The Republican base never noticed that they themselves, the hard working white people, were always numerically the majority of the people receiving those nasty benefits, or that cutting benefits in the name of cutting taxes mostly benefited people who made a lot more money than most of the base did. They were happy with the psychological benefits of white supremacy.

But how to enjoy white supremacy when the President of the United States is black? Once could have been a fluke, but the Republican leadership promised not to let it happen again. Yet it did!

In 2012, the leadership again anointed a candidate who was not well versed in the fine art of dog whistle racism. When he tried to make the basic argument, with his notorious forty-seven percent comment, he made the fatal error of making his claim about people voting Democratic to get freebies about the entire country, instead of just an easily demonized minority. So the black man won again! How can this be?!!?

Fie upon the Republican leadership! We shall choose a candidate who speaks directly to our deep seated racist impulses. That he shifts the racism from black people to immigrants and Muslims is not a problem at all. White supremacists know full well that their prejudice is roving and restless, and that they can easily revert to picking primarily on black people once their champion has instituted policies that make life needlessly miserable to no good purpose for those pesky immigrants and Muslims. The conceptual move – identifying a group of people by an irrelevant characteristic and heaping legal disablities on them using that as an excuse – is no different, regardless of the minority in question.

I don’t know, maybe Mr. Mackowiak is just too young to know all of this history. We should be charitable and assume that he is sincere. But his attempt to identify their failure to denounce Trump as the originator of birtherism, which he was not (at least Mr. Mackowiak acknowledges that birtherism was never anything but garden variety racism from start to finish) as the source of Republican moral failings, combined with his apparent ignorance of the sorry history of birtherism suggests that his real problem is just that his Republican blinders are on so tightly that he cannot see the real events.

Yes, Republicans fail morally for refusing to denounce racism, but that failing long predates Donald Trump and birtherism. Birtherism is an outgrowth of Republican permission for and encouragement of racism, since it was the distillation of the racist response to our first black President, which Republicans aided and abetted with their own bad attitudes towards Obama.

The two major Parties oppose the policies of the other Party all the time. Some Democrats opposed Reagan’s tax cuts. Republicans took a similar attitude toward Bill Clinton as they did toward Barack Obama. Democrats opposed many of the bad ideas George W. Bush came up with.

But the level of mindless opposition to anything and everything Obama proposed, up to and including risking default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, bespeaks more than just ordinary policy differences. In the context of Republican use of dog whistle racism to pacify their white supremacist base for forty years, it is hard to ascribe their attitude toward Obama to anything other than their own racism, or at least willingness to tolerate racism.

I can see how that would be hard for someone who is apparently a loyal Republican, like Mr. Mackowiak, to have to admit, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

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