Republicans Have Been Playing with Racist Fire For All of my 49 Years

From Nixon’s law-and-order and “silent majority” and southern strategy; to Reagan’s campaign kickoff in Philadelphia, Missouri, his “welfare queens,” his war on drugs; to the Willie Horton ad, the culture war, Rush Limbaugh, gerrymandering, voter suppression, birtherism, and “calves the size of cantaloupes” — Republicans have, for my whole life, very deliberately and consciously cultivated white grievance and racism.

I was born in 1968. This has been going on the entire time.

I always figured Republicans were playing with these ugly matches because it was a means to an end: it was how they could gain enough power to do what their donors actually want — which is to sell off America piece-by-piece for their private, short-term gain.

But then comes Trump, and then the racism is the point.

Well, he’s just about the same economically. Sure. But his economic policies, such as they are, are a mixture of greed and pandering to the people who got him where he is.

It’s the racism, stupid.

* * *

So I don’t feel particularly moved when Republicans decry the Nazis and nationalists at the rally last weekend. They should do that — it’s the least they could do.

But it seems like only when actual swastikas show up do they say anything. Otherwise it’s not racism, they say — it’s combatting voter fraud. It’s about state’s rights, or fiscal conservatism, or religious freedom. It’s always the dog whistle.

But then the wolves appear — on cue! summoned! — and then they furrow their brows.

They need to do better. Much, much better. Anyone who cares about their country would do better.

18 Aug 2017

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