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Republicans Still Don't Get It. Will They Ever?


Republicans still don’t understand how their own political strategies created the Tea Party and, most recently, Donald Trump.

Gary Legum of Salon has a good piece on the topic, in response to an essay old guard conservative David Frum wrote for The Atlantic.


Frum argues that the GOP base that is upsetting the party’s established order is simply “pissed off.” Which is true! But why is this mostly white cohort so angry? > >
The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description.
> > As a white male, I feel comfortable saying that last part might have something to do with all the bad stuff white males have done for much of human history. Not that there hasn’t been good stuff. But when you have spent hundreds of years being the dominant force in nearly every facet of society, you have to expect a backlash as that society becomes more open and multicultural. You can take the accusation as a personal affront, or you can acknowledge that not every white man in history has been, to put it mildly, as awesome as you think you are. It’s a complicated history, but also it is really not. Frum just admitted that the “white male” in America is upset about, among other things, having to tell an automated answering service that he prefers English over one of them weirdo non-English languages the people who take care of his lawn are always shouting at each other, and still he can’t make the leap to naming this kind of bias.

Put simply: the Southern Strategy worked, and continues to. This isn’t news, but that Republican politicians and thought leaders can’t seem to zero in on the source of their escalating insurrection is baffling. The signs are obvious if one wishes to bother looking for them, racism remains a tremendous blind spot for Republicans–it is either said to not exist, or casually exhibited alongside declarations that it’s not racist at all.

As an example of this blind spot that doesn’t show explicit racism, but nevertheless exhibits incredible tone deafness and ignorance, when Jeb Bush was asked about the Tamir Rice case, in which the officers involved in his death were not charged with crimes. Bush’s response: “the process worked.” Even for a Republican, that’s a remarkably cold answer, but it demonstrates the same underlying problem. Bush offered a kneejerk defense of police, who are seen by conservatives as being “under siege” by Black Lives Matter protesters, liberal elites, etc. While perhaps not intentional, his answer actually reinforces the same memes which prop up a candidate like Donald Trump–it is suggested that there’s nothing wrong with policing, the system is working fine, and minorities are just unreasonably, unjustifiably upset about their treatment. And, no doubt, it is assumed that any focus on BLM or issues of (supposedly fictitious) racism are distracting from the real victims, namely white, (usually) male English-speakers.

It makes me wonder if Republicans are pretending not to see what’s right in front of their faces, or if they truly don’t understand. And if it’s the latter, will they ever display the capacity for self-examination necessary to realize the extent to which their wounds are self-inflicted?

Photo by DonkeyHotey