The Mueller Hearing, July 24, 2019, laid bare the current differences between the modern renditions of Republicans and Democrats in a stark flash illuminating what’s been going on since 1964 (at least) and why there are no silver bullets to resolve the Constitutional issues. The hearings took 7 hours, the problems it highlighted are freighted with 65 years worth of history. Viewed from this perspective, Trump isn’t the disease, he’s the major symptom.
If there’s a handy label for the current political shape of the Republican Party I’m not aware of it, but what we are looking at is an amalgam of revitalized Dixiecrats and long range planning by the National Association of Manufacturers as described in the 1971 memo authored by Lewis Powell.
There are more than enough tomes on both the rise of corporate power, and the insidious spread of racist political foundations, to fill library shelves. All we need do is see the spectacle of GOP apologists for Russian interference in our elections as another mile marker on an already paved road.
Part of the pavement is composed of the vestiges of those states where the decision in Brown v Board of Education was not well received, and those states where the battle flag went back up when it was discovered that they really were going to have to integrate their schools and public accommodations. Does anyone believe it’s an accident Senate Majority Leader McConnell is jamming through judicial appointments of those who are hedging on whether Brown was correctly decided? Does anyone cling to the fiction that the anti-abortion culture war alliances don’t trace back to school desegregation orders? Does anyone doubt the blatant racism of Stephen Miller’s immigration proposals?
Trump hasn’t changed the racist nature of modern Republican political ideology, he’s just said the quiet part out loud.
The other part of the mixture recalls the days when the National Association of Manufacturers decided to move their headquarters to Wasington DC. The road map was drafted in Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo, the “American economic system is under broad attack.” Powell advocated a long term, gradual but steady, advance of corporate interests. It wasn’t too difficult to combine the residual McCarthyism with the call for “less government” to achieve the unlikely scene of so-called populist ultra-conservatives avidly supporting a racist president against the Commies and Socialists in a hearing room; it just took time and patience.
Please give latitude to my cynicism. Impeaching Trump would be a very constructive activity, but it won’t solve the problem. The GOP will simply find another, possibly less boorish, model who will be all the more dangerous for being better able to keep his (And it will be his) thumbs and mouth under control, one who won’t say the quiet part at decibel levels associated with aircraft engines.
The better view may be to take a longer approach, and one which draws from their own playbook. Hit’em where they think they’re strongest. In this instance, hit Trump on the very issue he intends to ride to a 2020 victory…immigration.
He’s already doubled, perhaps tripled, down on the racism embedded in his approach as he angles toward a base turnout election. When an opponent is digging himself into a hole, hand him a larger shovel. It shouldn’t be too difficult to brand Trump’s policies as racist, which they patently are. Nor should it be too much effort to clothe him in these soiled philosophical garments. “Yes, the stock market is doing well, but what are we to make of the fact that some children are being detained away from their parents in squalid conditions?” Some message discipline required, but if Democrats can tag every interview with a brief inquiry about children in cages, US citizens being detained, or why the Republicans won’t discuss DACA recipients, the frog may start to boil?
Then we can add the health care issue. There is no GOP plan to replace the ACA. Add one measure of immigration attack (Why won’t the GOP listen to Dreamers? Why are children locked away?) to one measure of specifically what is your plan to cover those with pre-existing medical conditions? What is your plan to provide maternity care? Mental health and addiction abatement care? Why can’t we address gun violence as a question of public health and safety?
As once members of the left avoided the term liberal because the right wing talkers besmeared it, let right wingers know how the racist, heartless, radical label grates?
We could strengthen and broaden the Democratic message, and take an opportunity to begin a longer phased approach to reclaiming the social contract binding citizens to their government. Patience. Discipline. Progress. It’s possible. A pendulum swings both directions.