Sunday, October 23, 2016

The recipe that created Donald

Melissa McEwen of Shareblue explains how Donald Trump is not an anomaly in the GOP but is the culmination of decades of party politics. I’m sure I’ve written about many features of what McEwen says, though it is good to see such a thorough description of how this happened.

She starts with this:
There are challenges for both parties in bringing together disparate groups who share enough in common to work in concert to elect a majority. But the biggest challenge facing Republican elites has always been how you convince people who are not obscenely wealthy to vote for a platform designed to exploit them.

Over decades, they developed and fine-tuned a strategy based on appealing to bigotry, to othering and scapegoating and victim-blaming. And then they dressed it up in cynical language about morality, patriotism, and nostalgia.

The starting point: Portray America of the 1950s as an ideal time and promise to bring it back – the “Again” in Trump’s slogan. But the perfection of that age is an illusion. It is no better than any other and had its own horrors: LGBT people in the closet, segregation, no women’s rights, no legal abortions, McCarthy hunting for Commies, and that little war in Korea.
Thus, the real promise is this: Vote for us — and we will restore your waning privilege, so you will maintain the luxury of never having to care about that stuff. About those people who are not like you.

This promise, however, ran headlong into the reality that when you promise an illusion, eventually people are going to notice that you have not delivered.
That brought cries from the GOP leadership of “Bootstraps!” It is your own fault if you haven’t achieved the dream we sold to you. That achievement is hard to do when official policy is a plan to redistribute wealth upwards.

I hear echoes of religious fundamentalism in their claim that the reason why their religion hasn’t solved all the world’s problems is there aren’t enough people (as in not everybody) who also believe it.

The GOP promise also depended on the oppression of marginalized people – the ones “not like you” – for the maintenance of privilege. These people weren’t inclined to cooperate and they fled the GOP. The remaining base was overwhelmingly white, straight, and increasingly male.

And increasingly seeing their dream impossible to reach. Which brought out the GOP blame:
If it were not for progressives… If it were not for feminists and gays and undocumented immigrants… If it were not for that dark-skinned president…
And with the blame came the offer to protect their base from *those people* who want to take away your rights! That was an intentional confusion between rights and privileges. Adding rights to a minority group does not take away the rights of others. But privilege is a zero-sum game. As we move towards equality you don’t get to keep privileges.
And the Republicans have had an enormous amount of success convincing their base that the insecurities they feel as the result of horrendous Republican policy-making — and the discomfort of losing their undeserved privilege — is really the result of marginalized people trying to take away their rights.
But the disproportionately white, straight, cis, male Republican base is not, actually, losing their rights. They are just being cynically told that they are.

Privileged men don’t know sustained fear. That’s the purpose of privilege. But women live with fear management, dealing with being victimized or exploited unexpectedly and at any moment. In another post one woman told of repeatedly being groped on public transportation. That’s a central difference between women and privileged men. Men structure their world so they don’t need to learn fear management, even though fear is normal of human experience.

So these privileged men believe they have a right to feel safe, though there is no such right. Thus they are the target for manufactured fear. Those at the bottom of such privilege – the white working-class males – now have actual fear about such things as paying the mortgage. For these people the Fear Industry happily provides scapegoats.

When these people haven’t been taught fear management what do they do? Many buy guns. Many turn to an authoritarian who validates their fear and hatred and promises protection. Thus Donald Trump.

Yet GOP leaders say they are mystified by who their base has rallied around. They also show no intentions of learning from their mistakes or holding themselves accountable.

Offer an unattainable dream. Blame others when that dream isn’t reached. Confuse rights and privileges. Offer scapegoats. Manufacture fear. Refuse being accountable. Shake and stir that long enough and we get this year’s GOP nominee.

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