At the core of Trump-Republican politics in this election season is the ratcheting up of racism, including the incitement of armed vigilantes against anti-racist protesters. For Trump and Trumpers, racism, raw and unapologetic, is the main weapon in their quiver if Trump has any hope of winning a second term. How Biden-Harris, other Democratic candidates, and the larger democratic coalition respond is of critical importance.
The present day Republican Party long ago stopped being the party of Eisenhower or Gerald Ford or Nelson Rockefeller. Even Nixon might feel out of place in its current iteration. In a process that began in the late 1960s and reached a new level with the ascent of Ronald Reagan to the presidency, the Republican Party was taken over and colonized by its extreme right wing. While its zealous extremists in Congress and on Fox News and right wing radio – and since 2016 Trump – may capture public attention, quietly at the apex and firmly in control of this formidable movement is a section of the billionaire class.
Not only do these billionaires have deep pockets, but they also field an expansive network of organizations and think tanks that set the agenda and frame the politics of this movement and the Republican Party in accord with their interests. Indeed, they give proof to the adage that “whoever pays the fiddler calls the tune.” Trump may seem like an outlier, an out of control rogue, a committee of one, and he is to a degree. But any examination of the policies of the Trump administration, and even Trump’s politics of white resentments and racism reveals not so much a break, but a continuation, albeit it in new conditions and in uniquely and exceedingly dangerous forms, of this extremist political movement, the head of which is the plutocratic class. If you don’t believe me, check out “Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality,” written by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson.
To say that anti-racism should be at the forefront as we enter the homestretch of this fall’s election seems obvious and incontestable, given everything that is happening. But what it doesn’t tell us is how to do it, how to frame it, how to discuss it in a way that resonates with and moves millions of white voters to cast their vote for Biden-Harris. I have some thoughts that I will post tomorrow.
It was impossible for me and many others not to admire John Thompson as a basketball coach and human being. He walked with great dignity, spoke with such honesty, gave no quarter to racists, and took obvious pride in his African American roots. He didn’t mince words and he loved his players who in turned loved him back and played for him with passion and energy. In his coaching heyday, the Big East and his Georgetown Hoyas were “Big.” No other conference and no other team had such stature and commanded such attention. Both were electric. At a time when racial tensions were high his close friendship with Dean Smith, the legendary white coach of North Carolina, who early on recruited Black players, didn’t go unnoticed. He will be missed and for his players, like Patrick Ewing, who now coaches Georgetown, it must be a very sad day.
In the calculus of Trump and his acolytes, the path to another term lies in the over performance of Trump’s base on election day compared to 2016 on the one hand and on the other, the suppression of the vote for Biden-Harris ticket and other Democratic candidates, especially in the battleground states. And the connective tissue between the two is racism.