Saturday, August 26, 2017

Trump Supporters

As we have discussed previously I do not think that every last single person who voted for Donald Trump as President is a snarling Neanderthal racist. Although it is tempting to think so sometimes, if that were really the case then people who did not and do not support Trump would be giving up on the possibility of ever convincing Trump supporters to vote for non-racist candidates. And given that Presidential elections are decided by winning a majority of state electoral votes and not by winning the raw majority of voters, a Democratic Presidential candidate must figure out how to at least staunch the Democratic vote losses among whites, particularly in the Midwest and South and maximize voter turnout among Blacks and Hispanics. Often those goals seem to be impossible to reach at the same time. The problem is that some unknowable portion of the people who voted for Trump indeed are snarling Neanderthal racists or nihilists who are perfectly happy to drill holes in the hull of the ship and drown as long as their hated liberal rivals also drown with them. 

Neither of these types can be reached by reasoned debate or political horse trading. And on some level it's dangerous to try. After all their issues are not so much political as they are cultural and racial. They do not really accept the legitimacy of the political system or the legitimacy of non-white citizenship. I was reminded of these two subgroups of Trump voters by multiple recent incidents.The first involved a North Carolina Klan Leader, Chris Barker.

Christopher Barker, a leader of a Ku Klux Klan chapter in North Carolina, agreed to meet for an interview at his home late last month with Ilia Calderón, a Colombian news anchor for Univision based in Miami. He was told the interview would be conducted by a Hispanic “woman of color.” But when Barker saw Calderón step out of a car and onto his property near Yanceyville, N.C., the KKK leader appeared taken aback, according to Calderón and her producer, María Martínez-Guzmán. He had expected someone like the rest of the predominately Hispanic, lighter-skinned news crew, they said.

But Calderón is black. Barker told her she was the first black person to step on his land in his 20 years of living there. Barker is the “imperial wizard” of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK in Pelham, N.C., a group that would later participate in a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Calderón is a U.S. citizen and Colombian immigrant.

Univision planned the interview with Barker and his wife, Amanda Barker, months in advance to provide viewers with an up-close look into a white supremacist’s views, Calderón told The Washington Post. It was an interview that quickly turned hostile.

It is important to keep in mind that these are the sort of people that Trump was loath to condemn. And by playing footsie with these sorts of people since at least the days of Goldwater, the Republican Party has shifted the Overton Window to the point where a Republican President considers at least some of these people as his base. Think about that. President Trump had to had have his arms twisted to distance himself from people who seek elimination of non-whites in North America. And Trump evidently resented this so much that he soon afterwards reverted back to his false equivalence between people who oppose slavery and people who would like to re-impose slavery and segregation or commit genocide. Of course you can see someone like Barker coming a mile away. He makes no secret of his hatreds. Loud and proud, he is. Trump supporters also turned their racist ire on a Japanese-American former Republican, Beth Fukumoto, who spoke up about Trump's enabling of racist rhetoric. 

HONOLULU ― State Rep. Beth Fukumoto (D-Hawaii) received a letter in the mail after watching the violence unfold at the white supremacy rally in Virginia and seeing President Donald Trump’s mixed reaction to it.
“Dear B****,” began the note, mailed last week to the lawmaker’s Honolulu office. “Your poor grand parents got put into a camp in the USA? Boo hoo hoo ― you **** murdered thousands of servicemen at Pearl Harbor ― did you forget that detail?”
“One of the reasons that I switched parties is that I felt the Republican Party was unwilling to confront racism,” Fukumoto said. “Racism specifically in the party and racism as promoted by the nominee at the time, and now the president.”

And perhaps just to show that they didn't really care for non-whites in general, other Trump supporters left racist voicemails, emails, and tweets for an Indian-American CEO, Ravin Gandhi, who had the audacity to criticize Trump's response to Charlottesville.  

When President Donald Trump went off-script Tuesday to defend Confederate monuments and the hate groups who love them, Chicago executive Ravin Gandhi had enough. Gandhi, founder and CEO of GMM Nonstick Coatings, a global supplier of coatings for cookware and bakeware, penned an op-ed that night for CNBC, where he routinely contributes business and political commentary. It was published Wednesday morning. “I recently told the New York Times I was ‘rooting’ for certain aspects of Trump's economic agenda,” Gandhi wrote. “After Charlottesville and its aftermath, I will not defend Trump even if the Dow hits 50,000, unemployment goes to 1 percent, and GDP grows by 7 percent. Some issues transcend economics, and I will not in good conscience support a president who seems to hate Americans who don't look like him.”
The reaction was swift and demoralizing: Bigoted tweets and emails rolled in by the dozens.
During a client lunch Thursday afternoon, a GMM sales representative forwarded Gandhi a voicemail he received inviting Gandhi to “get your (expletive) garbage and go back to India.”
(He grew up in Waukegan.)

“You can stick your stickies up your sticky Indian (expletive) and you can take that other half-(expletive) Bangladesh creep with you, Nikki Haley,” a woman says in the message. “She’s the one that started all this when she took down the Confederate flag. So don’t tell us that you gave him a chance. We don’t give a (expletive) who you gave a chance, OK? We’re going to start taking down Buddhist statues and see how you and Nikki Haley like that.”
(Gandhi is not Buddhist.)
The caller continues for a minute and a half, weaving in her distaste for Martin Luther King Jr. and ending with another invitation for Gandhi to “go clean up your own (expletive) country, it’s a filthy mess.” (Again: Gandhi was born here, grew up here, lives, works, votes and pays taxes here.)

But Barker and all the people who think like him were not numerous enough to elect Trump to office. Trump could not have made it without reactionary nihilists, people who know better or ought to know better but get sick twisted joy in causing pain to others, just because. A local radio and ESPN personality, Gregg Henson, recently provided an example of this. Challenged as to whether there was anything that Trump could do that Henson would disagree with Henson responded that as long as Trump was making liberals cry he had no problems with Trump.
So there you have it. Some Trump supporters have no positive vision for the country. They are pure reactionaries who only find joy in doing the political equivalent of a two year old smearing his crap on the wall. Bonus points if said two year old manages to get his crap on some valuable artwork. Can you really negotiate or reason with such people? No. No you can't. Unless and until Trump hurts them they will be immune to logic or empathy. And even then some won't care because they are happy other people are getting hurt, hopefully more than they are. So these people are not people who are reachable by progressives. I still don't think that they are the majority of Trump voters. The Democratic Party and progressives will need to walk a tightrope of appealing to some of the less racist/non racist white voters in the Midwest and elsewhere who felt deliberately left out of Clinton's plans while also appealing to a black and brown segment of the Democratic coalition who decided not to show up in 2016. This won't be easy. And if I knew how to do it I certainly wouldn't be blogging. But clearly there are some whites who can't and won't be reached by Democrats. And that's the way it is.
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