10 July 2018

Trumpanzees and fellow-travelers

I think that I shall never see
Aught viler than the Trumpanzee.....

There's an ongoing discussion about whether Trump's voters chose him out of "economic insecurity" or out of xenophobia and a desire to preserve the dominance of white Christians over the rest of the population.  It seems obvious that different motives were uppermost in the minds of different individuals; however, it's even more obvious that it ultimately doesn't matter.

The Republican party has consistently campaigned on, and tried to implement, policies such as taking away women's right to abortion, denying gay people the right to marry and laws protecting them from discrimination, and making the US a "Christian nation" in ways that would de facto make non-Christians second-class citizens in our own country.  To all this, Trump in 2016 added a venomous demonization of Hispanics.  It's just not possible for an even slightly informed person to be unaware of these things.  If somebody simply ignores all that and votes Republican based on economic policy or whatever, they still demonstrate that they are OK with those other policies -- that they're willing to sacrifice the freedom and rights of gay people, atheists, Hispanics, and others as acceptable collateral damage.

We do not owe such people respect, the benefit of the doubt, or an atom of "civility".  We have no obligation to remain passive or genteel in the face of a political movement which is viciously attacking us, as the conservative movement is.  There are good reasons why this conflict is called the culture war, not the culture debate.  As Malcolm X said, "I'm not going to turn the other cheek when some cracker is busting me in the jaw."  There is no moral equivalence between the persecutors and the persecuted.

The only thing to do with such people is to defeat them -- at elections, and by blunting and blocking the destructive policies of this regime by protest, resistance at the state level, or whatever other legal tactics are likely to be effective.  If some less-committed Republicans can be won over to our side, so much the better -- but we have to recognize that with most of them it will be impossible.  People who can defend the border family separation policy on top of everything else Trump stands for are lost to any appeal to human decency.  We're going to have to do this by stimulating the highest possible voter turnout on our own side.

Which brings me to what most will probably consider the big news of the week -- Trump's pick for the Supreme Court.  I have little to add to what I said about this a couple of weeks ago -- we always knew what kind of nominee Trump would choose, and knowing the individual's name makes little difference.  Again, the results will likely be far less apocalyptic and far less lasting than the doomsayers assume.  I'd like to see Kavanaugh rejected by the Senate and the seat held vacant until 2021 so a Democrat can fill it (after McConnell's treatment of Garland, this would be fully justified), or at least until after this year's election so that a hopefully Democratic Senate majority can force Trump to nominate a more centrist candidate; but the odds of this being possible seem remote.  It would require Collins and/or Murkowski to defect and all the red-state Democrats who are up for re-election to stand fast.  It's worth a try, but we mustn't let the near-certain failure of such an effort plunge us into another tiresome round of recriminations, "we're fucked", and cynicism right before the election.

And that brings me to the real threat this nomination poses.  On some sites I'm already seeing a good deal of pre-emptive venom aimed at the red-state Democratic Senators who might vote to confirm, suggesting that the party should abandon them -- or even that progressives should abandon the party -- if they do.  In other words, Democrats who vote the wrong way some of the time should be replaced by Republicans who will vote the wrong way all of the time.  If Kavanaugh is confirmed, the proper response is to saddle the country with a continuing or even enlarged Republican Senate majority.

This is madness.  If those who still support Trump are lost to any appeal to human decency, then progressives like this are lost to any appeal to sanity.  They are de facto fellow travelers -- the practical effect of their stance and actions, which is all that matters, is the same as the practical effect of being a Republican.  They represent an additional hurdle, hopefully a small one, which our turnout efforts will have to overcome.  That's the real danger which the Kavanaugh nomination presents -- the danger of another eruption of purist rejectionism and attacks on our own side at the worst possible time.  We're already facing an utterly disgraceful lack of support by the party establishment for some progressive primary winners.  Progressive rejection of more centrist Democratic candidates is not a response to that problem but a compounding of it.  Our turnout-boosting efforts will need to overcome both obstacles.

Fortunately, the results of special elections over the past year suggests that most ordinary voters are tuning out the negativity and focusing on the task at hand -- getting as many Republicans as possible out of office.  Some our bloggers, commentators, and party leaders could learn a thing or two from them.


Blogger Les Carpenter said...

You're right, the bottom line and only important task is to fade the legislative branch from red to light blue in 2018 and beyond. Holding to Purist ideology means certain defeat. Further solidifying Republican control of our government.

10 July, 2018 04:16  
Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

You're right. Now is not the time for purist rejectionism. The USA can't afford that luxury.

10 July, 2018 05:33  
Blogger Adam said...

It does pain me when I hear someone say they dont' vote

10 July, 2018 06:15  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

"Fortunately, the results of special elections over the past year suggests that most ordinary voters are tuning out the negativity and focusing on the task at hand -- getting as many Republicans as possible out of office."

This. And it's happening even as the purists keep howling about how the Democrats suck (add whatever body part you want) and that the big, bad DNC is the greatest threat to America--even more than Trump and the GOP (try to wrap your head around that one).

What has been clear to me over the past year is that pragmatic progressives have been winning, with people choosing them and rejecting the 18th-century GOP claptrap. But that also means that the purist "I reject the lesser of two evils and Hillary was worse than Trump!!" BS typified by such places like "Liberal Values" has also been rejected.

10 July, 2018 07:39  
Blogger Nan said...

A very thoughtful post. We are living in desperate times and need the "slackers" to get off their butts and VOTE! Otherwise, I dread to think where we'll be in another couple of years.

10 July, 2018 09:06  
Blogger W. Hackwhacker said...

Well said. The old bromide "Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good" applies more than ever in these existentially fraught times. I feel the same way about the Never Trumpers who may have spent a career building the Republican Party, but are now abandoning it. Today, I don't care if they have amnesia about how we got to this place, or that their values may still clash with ours. Today, there's only one value I care about: getting every goddamn vote to get as many Republicans out of office as we can.

10 July, 2018 10:35  
Blogger Scottie said...

I love the post and I agree with it. There does seem to be a war for the party between progressives and centralist. I am a progressive and I support the progressive candidates. I will still vote for a centralist if they win the primary because as you say it is far better than a republican would be. How ever that said I tend to be disgusted by "republican lite" candidates. Would you say there are any lines to be drawn for the big tent Democratic Party? Would a pro-life democrat be OK? Would a democratic candidate who pushes creationism in public schools be OK also? We want to win, we want to stop tRump, but just how dependable can a right leaning democrats vote be once in office? I find you have a talent when you write of getting the heart of a matter. Hugs

10 July, 2018 11:25  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Rational: It might be different if we had a remotely acceptable rival party, as most democracies do. Not in the present situation.

Debra: We certainly can't. With family separation and trade wars, Trump is escalating to doing a whole new level of damage.

Adam: They might as well say they don't count.

Marc: People like that embody what Robert Anton Wilson said about ideologists. Their tired old feuds with other Democrats are more real to them than the cries of children locked away from their parents.

Nan: Another two years of this and the country's values and standing will be ruined beyond repair. We may be at that point already.

Hackwhacker: Yes, some of those never-Trump Republicans have voted for pretty nasty stuff in the past, but I'll take anyone who's willing to help stop Trump.

Scottie: Would you say there are any lines to be drawn for the big tent Democratic Party? Would a pro-life democrat be OK? Would a democratic candidate who pushes creationism in public schools be OK also?

I would say the only case where I would not vote for a Democrat would be where the Democrat is actually worse than the opposing Republican. I probably wouldn't vote for a Democrat who was a forced-birth fetishist (I refuse to use the term "pro-life" in this context) if the opposing Republican supported abortion rights, for example. And even there, one must take into account the tendency of legislators to vote the party line at least some of the time. Anyway, cases like that are vanishingly rare.

Abortion rights and separation of church and state are essential principles. The party has a responsibility to make sure candidates who reject such principles are not nominated.

10 July, 2018 12:11  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

As far as why folks voted for Trump? and I actually heard some progressive folks that were so angry, that they voted for Trump in the last election ... whether they actually did or not, I have no idea ... I sure as Hell wasnt going to. But I myself voted Democrat, and for Clinton, even though I had issues with her. Why?, not so much being about Trump, but the fact that a majority of republicans can dominate the house and senate ... that was more my concern, being what they been talking about wanting to do themselves (out of their mouth) if they got that position. I feel, right now, that the democrats can win significantly in november, just because of the anger against Trump and republicans, from a diverse bunch of Americans, not just leftees. Even investors and economists are a little pissed off with Trump, and some of his dealings, especially on the tariffs. But, I could be very wrong too ... because I was definitely very wrong election night 2016 when I thought Clinton and democrats would win by a landslide ... which taught me a lesson, to not listen so much to polls, pundits, and MSM figures. Yet Clinton actually got the popular vote, although Trump didnt bitch about the electoral vote he won on, like he did in the past (of course, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth). Many in middle America may have supported him, because he ran a good sales pitch to them ... I mean, he's a hustler, which is exactly why I was leery of him as well ...this guy can hustle the shirt off their backs, and he knows how to get many freebies, whether on taxation breaks, scam deals, free publicity, etc, etc. As far as giving Trump the benefit of doubt, after he won ... I did that only in fairness, the same as I gave establishments democrats the benefit of the doubt, being more progressive myself, in the hope that they would loosen up some and try to form, a somewhat more progressive platform maybe. As far as Trump though, I was basing it also on the fact, that he is a hustler from a liberal city, he was even fairly good friends with the Clintons, was a popular tele show reality guy in pop culture, etc I even read once that he donated to the Clintons (foundation or whatever). So I figure, that he wasnt some far right fundamoralist especially, I was more concerned with republicans getting that majority they been wanting. I still find it hard to believe that this guy is as religious as he tries to say he is, maybe he is, I dont know, nor do I give a shit about his religion. I figure most of what he sayz is just to benefit him, his family/ empire, etc ... he will say and do anything to make it happen. I myself, unlike some that are disgusted with politics in this country, will not give up and say I wont vote. I have been voting probably longer than you or your readers (43 years or so I guess), none of these politicians or parties can ever discourage me to the point where I will give up, and not vote. I will continue to vote, regardless of how grim things look ... that's just how I am, I dont quit ... but I understand at the same time, those who do.

10 July, 2018 14:25  
Blogger Nan said...

"Abortion rights and separation of church and state are essential principles. The party has a responsibility to make sure candidates who reject such principles are not nominated."

A-MEN/A-WOMEN to that!!!

10 July, 2018 14:28  
Blogger Les Carpenter said...

Neither abortion rights or the phrase seperation of church and state are found in the Constitution. They are interpretations of the original wording found in the document that came later. To the strict constitutionalist the matters are to be determined by the individual states. What we are talking about is central power verses decentralized power.

It is likely these ddynamics will be forever present, as they should. Centalized power can become absolute power which tends to corrupts absolutely. Something which is becoming closer to reality since tRump.

If any of that makes sense. :-)

10 July, 2018 17:41  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch: Trump is a con man, and he managed to con some of the stupider Democrats as well as most Republicans. No surprise there.

Nan: I'll never compromise on that.

Rational: I didn't claim they are in the Constitution, though separation of church and state is certainly implicit in the First Amendment. I said they are essential principles of the Democratic party and basic morality, and the party must always fight tooth and nail for them.

What we are talking about is central power verses decentralized power.

Maybe you're talking about that. I'm not. I'm talking about individuals' fundamental rights. Historically, centralized power has always been better at defending that -- see for example federal power which smashed the Southern states' murderous oppression of black people during the civil-rights era. "States' rights" has always been an euphemism for tyranny.

10 July, 2018 22:18  
Blogger Martha said...

You are right, it is a culture war and the only way to win this is by voting. I hope you have a huge turnout for your side!

As for people defending the border family separation policy, it is far and wide. I personally know individuals here in Canada that are happy about it; people who have surprised me because I never thought of them lacking human decency to that level.

11 July, 2018 09:38  
Blogger Les Carpenter said...

I understand your point Infidel. Looking at the epitome of centralized power Nazi Germany, the old Soviet Union, Red China, North Korea - just to name a few come to mind. Given tRump's apparent affinity for authority and dictators, combined with the conservative/Republican thirst for power and preserving their own at any cost, I fear tyranical centralized power is far more likely under a US conservative government than I do a moderate to liberal government. In other words I think the the present day Republican party and the conservative movement is FOS. They are liars and hypocrites.

A final note: Whether it be centalized or decentralized power eitherin the hands of a total authoritarian is tyranny.

11 July, 2018 10:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Martha: I've been surprised too, although it's also encouraging that some people who are normally in lockstep behind Trump (some Evangelicals) have opposed it.

I'm very conscious of the responsibility we as Americans have to get this maniac regime under control before it does even more damage to other countries.

Rational: You have a point -- some states have been able to resist Trump's agenda recently. I think the focus must always be on individual freedom, by whatever means will advance it. But it's a concern when people's rights and freedoms vary by what state they live in.

11 July, 2018 11:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog Infidel753.

Nice post. Well said.

According to public polls Americans disagree with most of what Trump and the Republican Congressional majority are saying and voting for. That means rule by minority political power, which will always cause contention and protests.

As I said to you on my blog and to RN on his blog, a higher voter turnout can clarify and help end the bitterness between the parties.

Nice blog.

11 July, 2018 15:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Brad: Thanks for the kind words. If the vote in November reflects the mood of the country (far from a sure thing), the Republicans will get crushed. Even then I'm not sure the bitterness will be reduced. The Trumpanzees will find some pretext to denounce the results as illegitimate, Fox and Breitbart and so on will do the usual rabble-rousing, etc. I anticipate the same when Trump is impeached, or voted out in 2020. This kind of political fever is hard to break.

11 July, 2018 15:57  
Blogger Jerry Shepherd said...

A big voter problem is the white churches with white ministers and white congregations. They will continue to vote for the status quo.

12 July, 2018 15:33  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

White Evangelicals make up most of Trump's base. Most of them will keep voting Republican, especially with the goading of their pastors, except for those few who've been shocked back to reality by the family-separation policy. We'll just need to get our turnout to the point where we outnumber them.

12 July, 2018 16:38  
Blogger mittens said...

My own sense is that Trump has gone too far, (again and again) and finally people are removing their thumbs from their butts and getting scared. He seems unable to take in the idea that other countries exist with different rules. My Way or Da Highway. Yep.

But the people who revere him only see the good he has done. He has brought back the '50's and taught a new generation what discrimination is REALLY about. "There's a black girl sitting in the cafeteria. I want her ARRESTED". oh, yeah.

I pray for impeachment, and soon, but don't think it's gonna happen. He managed to buy the election, but that's been so papered over...

However, he is his own worst enemy, and it's beginning to show around the edges. The number of aides, supporters, government officials who have backed away from him, is both appalling and encouraging, depending on which side of the room you're standing in.

14 July, 2018 10:52  

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