1. I’ve seen a lot of ugly moments in our country’s politics in my lifetime, but what Trump did last night in demonizing and endangering Congresswoman IIhan Omar at a rally in North Caroline, ranks up their with the worst. What makes it more frightening is the thousands of white people at the rally, seething with resentment, reveling in the moment, and chanting “Send her back.”
2. When Trump’s vile racist rhetoric mixes with the perception of many white people that their white skin privileges and social order are under a fierce and inexorable assault from a rising multi-racial, multi-cultural movement insisting on equality, justice, and popular democracy, it can make for an exceedingly toxic and dangerous brew as we saw last week at Trump’s rally in North Carolina.
What adds to the toxicity is that Trump’s supporters believe that whatever advantages they enjoy, they earned them through their hard work and intellectual acuity. Conversely, the inferior and unequal conditions in which people of color are assigned, through the force of law, politics, institutional design, the “normal” workings of the economy, and, not infrequently, violence are the result of their own doing, inferiority and indolence. In this rendering, white people get their just due as do people of color. And any attempt to reorder these relations, that is, to create a multi-racial society resting on full equality and robust democracy, is considered unjust in their eyes and should be fiercely resisted.
In Trump, this substantial grouping of white people can count on a white nationalist authoritarian leader who will give voice to their (and his) resentments and rage and in the Republican Party, they have a reliable political vehicle that, with Trump, will prosecute their case.
By the same token, Trump can count on a broad swath of white supporters that will unflaggingly defend him as well rally around his authoritarian and plutocratic policies, enforce discipline in the Republican Party, and eagerly vote for him and other Republicans next year. In short, the connection of one to the other is symbiotic and co-dependent.
3. It’s almost absurd to hear media commentators discussing whether Trump is a racist or not? It should be a settled question by now. Trump by his words and actions over a lifetime has already given us an affirmative answer to that question. No further discussion in warranted.
4. Trump’s racist rhetoric and attacks are hateful, divisive, demeaning, demonizing, and, let’s not forget, endangering to people of color. Anybody who isn’t worried about the physical safety of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan is ignoring history, very recent as well as past.
5. Check out Dan Le Batard on ESPN. He mentions former African American sport’s host Jemelle Hill, who got sacked for her refusal to “stick to sports.” And her firing sent a signal across ESPN’s many platforms to stay clear of politics and controversy. To his great credit, Le Batard refuses. He’s good and gutsy here.
6. I watched the redoubtable Karen Bass (CA37) on MSNBC defending the “Squad” and it reminded me of the many women of color who play a prominent and leading role in the House Democratic Party caucus. Even though they aren’t in the cross hairs of Trump’s vile racist attacks right now, they aren’t that far removed and deserve our solidarity.
7. Trump’s rallies, it is commonly said, are designed to energize and incite his base. And they obviously do that. But they have other purposes as well, which often go unmentioned — to demoralize the far flung movement opposing him, while giving his reelection next year, notwithstanding much evidence to the contrary, a sense of inevitability.
8. In googling more information on the ill advised and groundless attack last week on Sharice Davids, one of only two Native Americans in Congress, at the twitter hands of AOC’s chief of staff, I couldn’t help but notice that every right and alt right media site were all over this story. No doubt nothing triggers their animal spirits and provides them with juicy copy quite like real, invented, or exaggerated tensions and disunity within the Democratic Party. In their calculus (and Trump’s as well), the stoking of such differences is the only ticket they possess to return their guy to the White House for four more years.
9. Last week I came across a comment on facebook, claiming that centrists in the Democratic Party consistently align themselves with the far right on a range of issues. But this is sheer invention even if it is dressed up in the language of radicalism. Where is the evidence? How have the centrists allied themselves with Trump and against Pelosi? What is more, this assertion ignores the fact that right wing authoritarian rule hanging over Washington and the country would be worse, far worse were it not for the Democratic Party majority in the House, centrists and progressives alike, who are resisting Trump and Trumpism.
If this weren’t bad enough, it got worse when the writer doubled down on his claim by bringing Lenin into the argument. He argued that today’s centrists in the Democratic Party are much like the “bourgeois democrats” of early 20th century Russia, who, according to Lenin, were “untrustworthy, backstabbing, vacillating, unreliable allies.”
In painting with such a broad brush, without so much as a single word of qualification or any mention of the context, dynamics and challenges of this political moment, the writer’s analysis is not only mistaken, but also un-Lenin like, that is, it was ungrounded, uncomplicated, one sided, and abstract. Luckily, most Democrats and activists aren’t of this mind. Whatever the differences are over policy and approach (and there are some substantive differences) within the Democratic Party and the broader coalition opposing Trump, they are being discussed and debated in a spirit free of accusation and vitriol in most instances. And that is how it should be.
10. A strategic approach to next’s year’s election has to consider the requirements of retaining control of House seats in purple/swing districts as well as regaining Senate seats in states that aren’t necessarily progressive friendly. And then there is the challenge of winning the electoral college as well as the popular vote in order to oust Trump. This is what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi grapples with every day, understanding that simply tacking to the left in these circumstances, as some think she should, is neither smart nor strategic politics.
11. I will be curious to see to what extent the testimony of Robert Mueller moves public opinion on impeachment. Right now only a minority support it, and if recent polling is accurate, a shrinking minority. I don’t consider the impeachment of Trump a moral and political imperative. For me, it a tactical question that is subordinate to the overarching imperative of defeating Trump and the GOP at the ballot box next year. In other words, will an impeachment fight assist in achieving that objective or is it a diversion?