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Thursday, August 09, 2018


What's in it for MAGAs?

by Tom Sullivan

On the extreme end, hate burns hot and fast. How long before Donald Trump's MAGA movement burns out?

Sociologist Matthew DeMichele and co-authors have studied "formers" who have abandoned far-right extremist groups. “Many of them broke down crying on us,” says DiMichele, a researcher at the Center for Justice, Safety, and Resilience. “It’s shame, it’s guilt, it’s regret," he tells Slate:

I can remember one individual that we interviewed. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I’m having trouble stopping the hate.” She was like, “I just want to stop hating and be normal.” We might have had that quote in the paper. But she was compassionate about it. She was very similar to substance abusers that just want to quit doing dope or quit drinking, and she wanted to stop hating and was having trouble.
That and recent election results suggest the sitting president's movement is starting to splutter.

Republicans have underperformed in special elections for over a year now. It is natural — dare we say, normal — that the party in power loses ground in the mid-terms. But does a movement built on opposition to the governing establishment do as its told when asked to support it? How far can the pendulum swing right before the arc tops out? Part of the GOP's problem in 2018, Martin Longman suggests, is the caliber of its candidates and buyers's regret:
But I think a significant part of the problem is that a big chunk of Trump’s voters hate Congress, are not partisan Republicans, and don’t support incumbents or either party. I’ve written about this before, and I’m still uncertain about the size of the contingent, but there’s a significant number of people who always cast their ballot as an effort to vote the bums out. In the match-up of Clinton vs. Trump, that translated to a vote for Trump. In a congressional race, it means that the challenger is likely to get their support (assuming they bother to show up at all).
When the whole premise of the Trump pitch is Washington is filled with bums, will the MAGAs come out to support incumbent Trump bums on his say so? The results of Tuesday's primaries and Ohio 12's special election suggest they will not. Trump's up-is-down boasts of political prowess — the success of his tariffs, reducing the debt (It's increasing.), and premature declarations of a "giant Red Wave!" in reaction to races too close to call — are wearing thin. At least, thin enough for Trump's Republican critics to be concerned.

Then there is the rampant criminality and self-dealing. Jonathan Chait yesterday afternoon read off the police blotter from just the previous 24 hours:
1) The trial of Paul Manafort, which has featured the accusation that President Trump’s campaign manager had embezzled funds, failed to report income, and falsified documents. His partner and fellow Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, confessed to participating in all these crimes, as well as to stealing from Manafort.

(2) Yesterday, Forbes reported that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross may have stolen $120 million from his partners and customers. Meanwhile Ross has maintained foreign holdings in his investment portfolio that present a major conflict of interest with his public office. (The “Don’t worry, Wilbur Ross would never do anything unethical just to pad his bottom line” defense is likely to be, uh, unconvincing to the many people filing suit against Ross for allegedly doing exactly that.)

(3) Also yesterday, ProPublica reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs is being effectively run by three Trump cronies, none of whom have any official government title or public accountability. The three, reports the story, have “used their influence in ways that could benefit their private interests.”

(4) And then, this morning, Representative Chris Collins was arrested for insider trading. Collins had been known to openly boast about making millions of dollars for his colleagues with his insider knowledge. He is charged with learning of an adverse FDA trial, and immediately calling his son — from the White House! — urging him to sell his holdings.
Not only is Trump turning his party into a white nationalist one, he is in effect turning Washington into an extension of the Trump Organization. "Crooks of a Feather" are getting rich, writes Longman. But not those who come to his rallies.

Among the other corruptions is the Republican tax bill. Besides funneling hundreds of millions into the pockets of Trump donors, the bill lined the pockets of members of Congress. Ryan Cooper reminds readers, "Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) seemingly got a personal kickback in the form of tax benefits for real estate (one of his major assets) for his vote."

Trump supporters may have liked his racist and autocratic leanings. Some may even cheer family separations and deportations of newcomers. But punishing groups they consider lessers will not feed families and pay the bills. Even if they can look past the self-dealing and widespread corruption, how long before they ask themselves, "What's in it for me?"

Because it wasn't supposed to be like this:
A South Carolina plant that assembles televisions using Chinese parts plans to shut down and lay off nearly all its employees because of new tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration, the company announced this week.

Element Electronics — which describes itself as the only assembler of televisions in the U.S. — plans to lay off 126 of its 134 permanent full-time employees and close the Winnsboro, S.C. plant on Oct. 5. Notably, there are still at least two smaller companies that continue to assemble speciality televisions in the U.S.

“The layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations in Winnsboro,” Carl Kennedy, Element’s vice president of human resources, said in a letter to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce on Monday.
“When you think you’ve reached rock bottom, to get kicked in the gut like this, you didn’t think anything more could happen,” state Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield told The State. The layoffs come two years after Wal-Mart, the largest grocer in the county and one of its few large employers, closed its doors. Great it is not. People will notice.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.