The GOP's #1 Issue Is the Survival of White Supremacy
There is no country in the world or time in history when racism as a political strategy has ended well for a nation - If the GOP fails to purge itself of its racist politicians our future is grim
For Democrats, there are tons of issues on the ballot. Climate change, free college, expanding Medicare, family leave after giving birth, Pre-K education, middle-class tax cut, child tax credit, the minimum wage, the right to unionize, and literally dozens of other less high-profile ways to expand democracy and rebuild our middle class after 40 years of assault by neoliberal Reaganomics.
For Republicans there’s really only one issue: race. Or, more specifically, maintaining the dominance of white people over every other racial group in America, and the survival of political and economic white supremacy.
Forty years ago, Republicans pretended they stood for something other than white supremacy, although they knew they needed white supremacists to win electoral victories just as Democrats had before they “gave away the South” by passing and signing the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in 1964/1965.
Republicans used to talk about slow-and-steady improvement of society, of reasonable-but-not-excessive benefits for American citizens, of the need to hold the country and our democratic institutions together for future generations.
Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, for example, wrote a letter on December 8, 1954 to his rightwing brother Edgar, who’d recently complained that “liberal” programs like Social Security were just “socialism” and would destroy America.
Eisenhower laid it out for him:
“Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this – in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one.
“But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything – even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution.
“This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon ‘moderation’ in government.
“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.
“There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
H. L. Hunt was then the richest man in the world, a nationally famous Texas oilman, and supporter of the white supremacist John Birch Society, whose literature and the signs they provided to rallies frequently noted that “Race mixing is communism.” Hunt was such a segregationist that he financially supported the Nation of Islam’s Elijah Muhammed and white supremacist Democrat George Wallace.
And Eisenhower was right in 1954 about the ideal of “moderation“ in the GOP: “out” racists within the Republican Party were then a minority; most were Southern Democrats like Wallace. That all changed a decade later when the parties essentially switched sides on the issue of race post-1964 as Richard Nixon openly welcomed Southern white supremacists into the GOP with his “Southern Strategy.”
Republican strategist Kevin Phillips wrote in 1964 about the coming resurgence of the GOP, as a backlash against the Democratic Party’s embrace of multiracial democracy. Phillips had suggested the GOP was just adopting slaveholder Jefferson’s “small government” worldview that dominated his thinking until 1801 when he became president (and then largely reversed his thinking).
In 1970, during the Nixon presidency, James Boyd wrote a commentary on the process for The New York Times titled “Nixon’s Southern Strategy,” specifically mentioning Phillips’ theory and quoting Richard J. Barnet, then the co-director of The Institute for Policy Studies:
“But the analogy is not with Jefferson; it is with Hitler. The elements are all there — deep‐rooted social cleavage, insoluble problems, rhetoric which attempts to legitimize and encourage hate, a phony genetic and geographical underpinning, a despised minority to blame for everything. It all adds up to scapegoat politics, which is a tactic of fascism.
“The new gains of the Republican party are based upon preserving the status quo by stopping the civil rights advance. But the status quo is racist. The [Nixon] Administration tries to legitimize this…
“To say we are to stop [progress on integration] now, to pervert the moral authority of the Presidency in order to make [white] people feel more comfortable with their prejudices — and that's what's happening today — is to say that we accept racism. And to build a political majority based on racism is taking a long step toward fascism.”
Barnet was prescient.
Today’s Republican white supremacists, much like H.L. Hunt in the 1950s, live in a totally zero-sum world: when anybody who’s not white “wins” any sort of benefit or power, they believe white people “lose” by the same proportion.
All people get jobs: Republican white supremacists believe white people must lose jobs
All people get voting rights: Republican white supremacists believe they will end up with politicians who no longer put white supremacy first
All people get housing rights: Republican white supremacists believe their housing opportunities are damaged
All people’s history gets recognition in schools: Republican white supremacists believe their white children will “feel ashamed of their white skin”
All people immigrate to America: Republican white supremacists believe their power to maintain white supremacy is diluted
All people get healthcare: Republican white supremacists believe that’ll just produce more non-white babies, which is why 12 GOP-controlled states still refuse to expand Medicaid even for pregnant mothers
It shouldn’t require saying, but they are all wrong and anti-American. This is a large and diverse country, and empowering everybody strengthens the entire nation, as opposed to weakening white people.
Nonetheless, Republicans are already cranking it up this far ahead of the 2024 election.
Yesterday, I got an email from Donald Trump. It was pure dog-whistle to his white supremacist base, a clear continuation of Nixon’s Southern Strategy:
“Our Country is being poisoned with the millions of people that are illegally flowing through our Borders.
“Many are criminals from the emptied prisons of other countries, most of these are very dangerous people.
“Our Country is dying from within and nobody is doing anything to stop it.”
Trump, of course, rose to power in the GOP by taking “birtherism” national, questioning the legitimacy of America’s first Black president, starting in 2008. He opened his campaign in 2015 with a racist rant about Mexicans.
Meanwhile, white supremacist media is all over “Critical Race Theory” (CRT), an obscure course taught in law school that illuminates the legal aspects of institutional racism.
CRT has never, ever been taught in any public school in America, but that’s not stopping Republican Glenn Youngkin from lying about it in his fight against Terry McCauliffe for Virginia governor’s race.
As Judd Legum points out in his Popular Info newsletter:
Youngkin’s closing TV ad claims to contain “newly unearthed documents” which it presents as proof that McAuliffe's administration “actively pushed” K-12 students to be taught CRT. The ad claims that this is an excerpt from “MCAULIFFE'S ACTUAL 2015 TRAINING FOR TEACHERS.” …
But the document has nothing to do with teaching CRT theory to K-12 students in Virginia schools. Rather, it is a presentation delivered as part of a two-day institute, which took place in September 2015, about disciplinary practices in Virginia schools.
The Editorial Board of The Washington Post summarized it in an editorial published last week titled, “Youngkin is Using the Critical Race Theory Bogeyman to Rile up the Trumpian Base.”
“Trumpian base” is just another way of saying white supremacists.
Texas, meanwhile, just pushed through their redistricting for the next decade. While over 90 percent of the population growth in that state that got them two new seats in the US House of Representatives was among people of color, the gerrymander radically cuts their representation in the US House as well as in the Texas House and Senate, handing those seats to white Republican politicians.
And 19 Republican-controlled states have passed over 30 laws to make it especially harder for people in cities to vote and allow state legislatures to overturn the results of elections. Cities in those states, of course, are where the majority of each states’ people of color live.
What’s truly astonishing here is that the media isn’t routinely referring to all these facets of rightwing media and Republican “policy” as naked white supremacy.
When covering the McCauliffe/Youngkin race, reporters rarely point to Youngkin’s CRT/schools white supremacy strategy, instead asking if Biden’s sagging approval numbers are the reason white Virginians might not vote for McCauliffe.
Being a racist in the United States should be a badge of shame. Instead, its a path to political victory in about half the nation, and will get a politician willing to use it a long way toward that end in most of the rest of the country.
When Richard Barnet pointed out in 1970 that the new GOP strategy of openly appealing to white racists would eventually lead America in a fascist direction, he was both right and a prophet.
The core of Hitlerism was race and it led to over 6 million dead “non-Aryan” people; Viktor Orbán rode attacking the race and religion of Syrian refugees to power in Hungary and is celebrated by Tucker Carlson and Fox “News.”
And, sure enough, last week a person (not a parent) stood up at at Chandler, Arizona school board meeting and said:
“Every one one of these things, the deep state, the cabal, the swamp, the elite, you can’t mention it. But I will. There is one race that owns all the pharmaceutical companies, and these vaccines aren’t safe, they aren’t effective, and they aren’t free. You know that you’re paying for it through the increase in gas prices, the increase in food prices. You’re paying for this. And it’s being taken from your money and given to these pharmaceutical companies. And if you wanna bring race into this, it’s the Jews.”
After two decades of vilifying Muslims post-9/11 the GOP has now gone back to its Southern Strategy roots: blame all the problems of society on Jews, BLM, Black people and refugees more generally, and their anti-fascist “Antifa” allies. In this, they’re celebrating murderers like Rittenhouse while promoting white supremacists like Glenn Youngkin.
There is no country in the world or time in history when racism as a political strategy has ended well for a nation.
If the media continues to refuse to call out Trump’s racist election strategies and base, and the Republican Party fails to purge itself of its Trump-humping racist politicians, America’s future is indeed grim.
The United States was founded by men who were racist white supremists whose income and wealth depended on slavery and the appropriation of the land of the indigenous people by force. The war with England was the result of that country moving to banning slavery inside the country and it was feared that this ban would be extended to the colonies. The other factor was the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that forbade settlers in the areas west of the Appalachins and this was prime real estate already being surveyed by men working for Washington and Thomas Paine and others.
After Bacon's Rebellion it became essential for the landowners to segregate the European settlers from people of color as they feared more uprisings. It is also why the Second Amendment was added so that there would be private militia available to fight these "insurgents".
The men who took over what is now Texas did so as the Mexican government was also about to abolish slavery in their country. The "texans" wanted the land to grow cotton and wanted to be able to use slave labor. When Haiti broke free of the French the U.S. government supported France and has continued to exploit the people of this rich country without mercy.
This strategy of divide and conquer has worked exceedingly well for more than years. Even with the Civil War and the 13th Amendment the practice of slavery has continued in the USA to the present day. The GOP with Trump is not a fundamental shift but a continuation of the policies and practices of this country, regardless of how we might light to see ourselves and rewrite history.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been preoccupied with finding a new place and moving myself and my large Husky/Shepard mix, and then finding a place for my grandson and his family and helping them move. Consternation about the rent prices throughout the US and here in Las Vegas and the rigid restrictions and requirements for acceptance has already been the subject of many discussions here and elsewhere, I’m sure. Build Back Better and the infrastructure bill may eventually provide cheaper housing, but by the time it happens, if it ever does, I will occupy some expensive property in a cemetery. The squeeze on the working stiff, poor people, and seniors is just one more outrage among many.
I did start to compose some thoughts in response to a couple of rants or to commentary on the show during that time, which I may include as part of this comment. However, I will focus first on the rant from today.
When dealing with an addicted person, one often reaches a point when one throws up their hands in exasperation and decides that the situation is hopeless. It is not uncommon for family members or an entire family to simply give up on the person who is either unable or unwilling to do whatever it takes to stop using and abusing a substance and to take advantage of the professional help or rehab that is available. Until they reach that point, significant others may be supportive and try any and all possible strategies to help, and some of us never give up on them. Unfortunately, however, the predominant theory or consensus is that to offer help to an addict is to “enable” their habit. I am not going to discuss that here in any detail, though.
The problem with the addict is analogous to the problem with the conservative Republicans and the problem of racism and white supremacy. The addict operates on a fundamental system of beliefs or cognitive/behavioral patterns which are the origin of her dysfunction. The addiction is the symptom of erroneous emotionally tinged thinking or habitual patterns of behavior in response to events and relationship dynamics which are the triggers for regressive behaviors. Denial is just one facet of a constellation of ideas which confuse the issue. This may sound like psychobabble, as some cynics like to claim, but it is not. It is basic psychology.
Likewise, the conservative or Republican, or possibly even certain more progressive thinking individuals have a perverted or pathological belief system, a substantial part of which is below the level of conscious thought, and which has strong emotional underpinnings, in which whiteness is experienced as preferable to darker hues. They cannot merely b persuaded to change their minds. They are hooked. I believe two callers alluded to this today (Monday 11/1).
After all, purity is associated with whiteness in our language, in religion, and in popular culture. If it’s got be clean, it’s got to be Tide. Cleanliness is next to godliness and clean is typically perceived as lighter, whiter and brighter. Females menstruate; therefore, men fear being defiled, which is the source of imagined male superiority. Etc., etc., etc. These things lie mostly under the radar and are unconscious and amorphous.
So, how do we combat this bad and discriminatory thinking? The media could help, but they are busy with petty BS and making money. Good books are wonderful and social media can mold public perceptions and opinion, but the literature is full of the negative stuff, people don’t read, and social media is all over the place. Good government propaganda is effective when government is good. But, we usually get back to schools and education, eventually.
The question then is, how do we achieve the sort of education that dispels the harmful notions and mythology? What have schools failed to do or what should they start doing to counter the undesirable narratives? My answer is always the same. Freedom, autonomy, and agency must be the first order of business. If there is a power structure and a traditional bureaucracy and any hint of control, coercion, manipulation, or arbitrariness, then growth, innovation, and awareness will be greatly inhibited or completely blocked. Power corrupts. You knew that.
Education is about change. Education is about following the science. Education is about being able to absorb the existing knowledge without being dominated by it or by those who purport to have it and dispense it. Compulsory schooling cannot and does not yield education. Do not fall victim to the illusion. Nothing will change until children own their education because they enjoy full citizenship rights and have maximum liberty.
These were my earlier thoughts a week or two ago:
While you are educating us with brilliant insights, truth, facts, and history – all of which is of a subversive nature with respect to the powerful, influential, and wealthy individuals and organizations which insist on lording over those of us who work and who care for each other, the nation, the Earth, and the future of humanity, you speak often about bringing back civics’ classes to schools. Do you not see the disconnect?
Civics classes in schools which lack civility in their own operation and organization contribute little to civility within society. They did not save us when they were part of the curriculum for many decades. Students need sanguine illustrations and models, not mere abstraction. For most, the messages and morals do not sink in or make a lasting impression as a rule because students are only going through the mental motions with none of the necessary tethers to reality and none of the cognitive and emotive connections to what is being taught that are needed for real comprehension and awareness.
Correct me if I am wrong. I believe that the baby boomers and a generation or two since still had a good dose of civics, government, and American history in their curricula. Yet, they have been the most easily addicted to the Fox Nuisance Channel and they were first in line to support Trump.
Education by any logical and meaningful definition is always essentially subversive. An official curriculum does nothing to permit or encourage creative or oppositional orientations. Please do not recommend civics classes as a solution to our social and political dilemmas. That is merely a feel-good balm. Schools can only screw up civics classes as they screw so many other disciplines up.
On a different day:
The Republican operatives who intentionally spread misinformation and the right-wing media operatives who do the same are despicable and repulsive. You are right to condemn them in the harshest terms. However, you risk sounding a bit paranoid or as if there is a conscious or methodical organized conspiracy when you attribute an intentional strategy, when in fact, I believe that most of these individuals are merely promoting their own particular personal interests or beliefs, and more importantly, echoing the loud but undistinguished crackpots who have found a way to get attention and magnify their bizarre impulses, imaginations, and ideas from hidden perches “out there” somewhere in the hinterland. Catering to the “base” as it is reflected in reflective poll pools is primarily reactive.
The politicians and media are in no way absolved of their massive culpability. But I suspect that the squirrels out in the forest are a major factor in the spread of nutty false narratives, divisive propaganda, and bogus reporting. Your suggestion for a public education campaign, therefore, is indeed the best option overall. The ‘conspiracies’ lie in the subterranean power and influence structures which have become so integral to many of our institutions and way of thinking and acting that we simply don’t see the trees for the forest.
Few people have been more vociferous than me in demonizing the rotten, self-serving bastards who have started wars and profiteered from the death and destruction of innocents. But no one cares what I say, and I have no audience beyond a few FB “friends”. Regrettably, even the arrogant billionaires who push their rank ideology on the rest of us typically do justify their evil and deceit with some version of the prosperity gospel or a morality framework that elevates those from certain families or backgrounds far above their rightful status. Pegging them as the bad guys will always be problematic. I ramble; therefore I am.