Sunday, March 20, 2016

Creating Trump

Paul Krugman has been prominent in pointing out that Donald Trump is the creation of the Republican elites with their persistent Conservative bait and switch tactics: fomenting working class fear and anger and delivering nothing but tax cuts for the rich. Those tactics their had modern American origin in the John Birch society (which copied them from the Communist Party), one of whose eleven founding members was Fred Koch, father of Charles and David Koch, the immensely wealthy brothers whose annual strategy sessions attract a who's who of the American right wing mega rich as well as camp followers like the late Antonin Scalia and fellow Supreme Court Justice Thomas. The brothers, also early Birch Society members, later went their own way, but kept the tactics. After the Republican defeat in 2008, it was at the 2009 Koch conclave that the Republican strategy of total resistance to Obama and demonization of him was adopted.

Josh Marshall has a particularly clear analysis of how this led to Trump:

If you look around over the last week there are a number of highly sophisticated Republican voices arguing that Donald Trump is the sort of demagogue and potential strongman our political system was designed to prevent from gaining power in our country. They are portentous and ominous words and true in many respects. But they would be far more credible if so many Republicans - not necessarily the same writers, but countless formal and informal spokespersons including numerous high-ranking elected officials - hadn't spent the last seven years ranting that the temperamentally cautious and cerebral Barack Obama was a 'dictator' who was trampling the constitution.

This isn't just a 'gotcha' or 'so there' - though frankly that alone would be more than merited. But as I noted a couple weeks ago, they are inextricably connected. Trumpism is the product of many things. But a key one of them, perhaps the key enabling one, is years of originating and pandering to increasingly apocalyptic and hyperbolic conspiracy theories, fantasies and fever dreams which put middle aged white men up against the metaphorical wall with a thug, foreign, black nationalist, anti-colonialist Barack Obama shaking them down for their money, their liberty, their women and even their lawn furniture.

Unfortunately, it's the American people who are cast in the victim's role in this little immorality play.