Thursday, August 04, 2016
White nationalism FTW
Conservative intellectual Avik Roy offers an interesting critique that (correctly in my opinion) argues the GOP has been primarily a white nationalist party for a very long time. He is answering a series of posts offered by Ross Douthat on twitter arguing that this new which is why his name comes up through this passage. Read the whole thing for context:
Ross argues that the GOP nominated “moderate-conservatives” in every non-Reagan election since Goldwater. This is conventional wisdom in certain sections of the conservative movement—it’s a line often repeated by Ted Cruz—and it’s also an important misunderstanding of what happened. Douthat and Cruz think of Dole as a “moderate” because he didn’t exert himself when it came to reducing government spending or cutting taxes. But that stuff didn’t matter to nationalist GOP voters, who admired Dole because of his heroism in World War II. Same for McCain and Vietnam; in 2008, McCain’s GOP convention theme was “Country Mitt Romney wasn’t the nationalists’ first choice, but his aggressive rhetoric about “self-deportation” brought the nationalists to his side in his fight against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who had signed a bill granting in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants in Texas.
Dole and McCain proved, long before Donald Trump, that GOP voters are much less ideologically conservative than intellectual conservatives would prefer. They won the GOP nod not because they were moderates, but because they appealed to the nationalist tendencies of white GOP voters.
This is not to say that those nationalist tendencies are inherently bad—caring about the fate of one’s country is a fundamentally healthy instinct—but rather to point out that nationalism is not the same thing as “moderate-conservatism.”
Conservatives have resisted the left’s allegation that the GOP is fundamentally racist, and rightly so. Most conservatives are people of good will who genuinely believe their views are color-blind. But they aren’t always.
Let me put it this way: Did you spend more time in the last 12 months being offended by intrusions on the liberties of Christian cake bakers than you did being offended by intrusions on the liberties of black asthmatics?
This is what I mean when I talk about a politics that isn’t racist but isn’t exactly color-blind either. The question conservatives have to ask themselves is: have they committed themselves, in their rhetoric and their policies and their daily lives, to making sure that every American—regardless of color or creed or national origin—benefits from the American way of life?
The GOP has been in a white identity death spiral since 1964. Every year, the GOP’s overwhelmingly white majority tends to the grievances of the subpopulation of white voters who are angry, while ignoring the concerns of non-white voters, a tendency that drives away the few non-white Republicans try to who stick around. Over time, the only Republicans left are people who have no idea what non-white voters care about, because they spend so little time interacting with people who don’t look like them.
Ross is right that the GOP failed its voters. And he’s right that the stagnant post–2007 economy plays a role in the anger of working-class whites. The economy, however, is not what GOP voters complain about on talk radio or on Fox News. Nor are GOP voters up in arms because Republicans failed to reform Medicare or cut capital gains taxes, or because they helped pass NAFTA. The economies of our inner cities have also been stagnant—for a much longer period—and there is a lot less gnashing of GOP teeth about that.
The GOP failed in one area in particular: it failed to stem demographic and cultural changes that expanded the power of brown and black Americans (and immigrants and non-Christians) while the white working class was coming apart.
Guys like House Speaker Paul Ryan support Donald Trump because they’re worried about the damage that Hillary Clinton could do if she’s elected. But they’re not sufficiently worried about the damage Donald Trump could do to the causes they care about.
If you’re a white gun owner, I get it: you’re legitimately concerned that Hillary Clinton will appoint a liberal to the Supreme Court and gut the Second Amendment. But if you’re a black gun owner, you’re legitimately concerned that a President Donald Trump will put your life in danger, because Trump will be inclined to side with cops in every dispute between them and you.
Paul Ryan spent much of 2013 and 2014 in urban communities, traveling with the great Bob Woodson and hearing the stories of black Americans trapped in poverty. Ryan has genuinely been trying to build a GOP that works for all Americans.
But trust is hard to earn, and easy to destroy. 10 years from now, no one will remember that Paul Ryan did a listening tour in black communities. They will remember that he endorsed Donald Trump for President. Every day that Ryan remains in the Donald Trump camp is a day that further advances the GOP’s white identity death spiral. But most politicians can’t see beyond the next election. And that’s why the GOP’s long-term survival is an open question.
I think he's right. If there's one thing obvious to me it's that the elaborate ideology of the conservative movement was always just a prop. It was the tribalism and dogwhistles that kept their coalition together. White nationalism is really all there is.
But consider his example here and how that plays out in the real world:
Did you spend more time in the last 12 months being offended by intrusions on the liberties of Christian cake bakers than you did being offended by intrusions on the liberties of black asthmatics?
The Christian baker's "intrusion on liberty" results in him being required to make a cake for someone he believes should not be allowed to marry. The "intrusion on liberty" of the black asthmatic results in the black asthmatic being killed in the street by the authorities. There are "intrusions on liberty" and intrusions on liberty.
And also, you cannot discount the many people who believe that black asthmatic and others like him deserved what they got. Those people exist too.
digby 8/04/2016 02:00:00 PM