“Send Her Back.”
The darkest, ugliest impulses that a political movement can cultivate, on full, unapologetic display. That’s what Donald Trump has been cultivating all along. Whether the Republican Party likes it or not, it stands for it now. Most of us across the ideological spectrum feel, viscerally, a kind of moral revulsion when we hear and see an angry mob braying “Send Her Back” about a fellow American. But the reaction from Republicans today was basically a foregone conclusion.
We are long past the point where anyone can ask with a straight face, “Where are the decent members of this political coalition. When will they stand up against this?” They won’t. We know that. They did effectively nothing when the president praised the Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us” a night before their ranks murdered a woman. Nothing as fellow human beings were penned into cages like so much livestock. And the reason is very simple. They are getting what they want out of Trump.
The crowd in the arena gets the illicit thrill of chanting racist slogans. Corporate America gets away with crime. The Christian conservatives get to pick judges, thanks to one of their own, Leonard Leo, who basically runs judicial vetting and who along with Mitch McConnell has gotten a record number of judges on the federal appeals bench. (Sure, Leonard Leo is a devout Catholic, but you’re not going catch him criticizing a president who puts children in cages.)
Corporate America got a trillion-dollar tax cut. Wall Street got massively declining SEC fines. Big Polluters got an EPA that has their back, rolling back regulations, including, in an announcement today, that it would not ban a widely used pesticide associated with developmental disabilities and other health problems in children. The warmongers get the promise of a military confrontation with Iran, while the defense contractors get enormous billion-dollar boondoggles and a White House that literally tweets out ads for their products. Those who want to slash the social safety net, they get Mick Mulvaney at the Office of Management and Budget, who told the conservative Heritage Foundation yesterday he has been saying, “OMB, now under the management of the Heritage Foundation.” And the bosses of America get an administration that quietly put out a statement this week opposing the $15 minimum wage increase the Democrats in the House passed today.”
Each part of the coalition has been dealt into the Trump presidency. It is a classic model of corrupt governance. The capo on the top and the many, many bosses below who are given control of their domain to do as they wish. Because Trump doesn’t care at all about EPA policy or labor or Iran, or really anything other than making money, which the presidency allows him to do with public dollars, and being the center of attention, which, same.
But the base—what does the base get? The folks in that arena? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? They get to chant. They get to revel in their own American-ness and primacy at the expense of others. They may not get much more than that, but Trump and now the entire Republican Party and most of the conservative movement realize that that is enough for them. They realize that no one actually cared about deficit or small government. That was never the fuel that fired the engine of Republican politics. It was always roiling rage against “them” that was on full display in the “Send Her Back” chants last night. Without that rage and that passion, that enthusiasm and fire in that room, this entire project falls apart.
That sentiment at the core of the coalition cannot be pried loose, and it cannot be negotiated with, and it cannot be appeased. It must be peacefully, nonviolently, politically destroyed—with love, compassion and determination, but utterly confronted and destroyed. That is the only way to break the coalition apart. Not by prying off this or that interest. They are in too deep. They have shamed themselves too much. The heart of the thing must be ripped out. The darkness must be banished. The people who feel moral revulsion at that display we saw last night must collectively mobilize in greater numbers than the chanters.
That’s it. That’s the only way out. And it’s the task that all decent people in this country must set themselves to.
(Chris Hayes, July 18)