One of the strangest disconnects in the 2016 election was how Trump convinced his supporters that he was a conservative and Hillary Clinton was a socialist.
Neither were true.
Trump, a lifelong democrat, switched parties because he saw easy pickings in the new South. The South had switched parties when the democrats had the audacity to stop being racist; In 1950 the South was 80 percent democrat. By 2016, it was roughly 70 percent republican.
Clinton was only a democrat because she was dragged across the center line by her husband, and later the party she was compelled to join. She once worked for Nixon, and she married Bill — her characterization, not mine — because they could argue about politics 24 hours a day. Bill was a pragmatic liberal, socially leftist but a fiscal centrist. Hillary was similar, a mix of GOP opportunism mixed with the harsh realities of taxation.
In the 1990s White House, the Clintons worked with Congress and, with no small measure of help from Gramm-Rudman, were able to balance the budget in the late 1990s. Trump went bankrupt.
Before they started running for president, Clinton was clearly to the right of Trump fiscally, a self-made millionaire who has demonstrated that she knows the value of a dollar. Trump, of course, was born rich and fed hundreds of millions of dollars by his family, and later by the United States in the form of welfare for his bad debts. His financial savvy is limited to putting his hand out to get paid and pulling it in when the check comes.
Socially, Clinton is a centrist outside of women’s issues, while Trump is a social conservative. Social conservatism, as historians well know, has been around since the beginning of recorded time. It’s a resistence movement, a regressive movement. It usually follows a recovery or a progressive movement, and it’s always most popular among the least educated.
In modern Europe, it’s a return to nationalism, a resistence reaction to the European Union. Brexit is the most prominent example. It’s already showing cracks, as Brexit negotiations seem almost perfunctory and wildly over the top, as if the Brits don’t really want to leave but they have to save face by pretending that they do. A successful Brexit completion is likely to be greeted with more cries of, “dammit, they actually went through with it” than cheers of, “finally.”
In the United States, social conservatism is even simpler. It’s Ron White’s “you can’t fix stupid,” dressed in a petticoat and fobbed off as a movement. It’s religious fundamentalism, racial intolerance and jingoistic nationalism packaged as “family values,”
That’s literally all it is; it’s the ethnocentric, jingoistic, xenophobic reaction to anything (or anyone) that’s the slightest bit different, or the slightest bit new. It’s regressive. It’s, “Let’s get back to the good ole days; let’s turn the clock back to a time when men were men, the dark ones worked for the light ones, the girl ones stayed in the kitchen and grabbing a pussy was just how a husband greeted his secretary.”
It’s an untenable model, because it requires religious fundamentalists to support a group of men who violate the commandments as a matter of course. It’s working so far, though, because this group of men really knows how to sell bullshit, and how to hypnotize the masses. They’ve hoodwinked the masses into fighting with each other so much that nobody is paying attention to them. Well, one side is, sort of — paying a little bit too much attention — but the other side has it’s collective fingers in it’s collective ears, singing “lalalalalalamakeAmericagreatagain!” at the top of its collective lungs.
As a result, every move toward balance is met on the right with the sort of resistence you would expect from a dog being given a vinegar enema, and on the left with oblivious overreaction. Every day, every story, every news cycle, the right barks like chickens at the fair and the left blames everyhing on Trump.
It would be hilarious to watch if it wasn’t so dangerous.
Enter the caravan.
Trump has lost mind about immigration at this point, yammering on about kicking second-generation Americans out of the country, as if all second-generation Americans are those Mex’cin rapists he keeps whining about. He’s massing troops on the border to meet a mass of protesting migrants and refugees, as if he was preparing for a warlike invasion. It’s a massive powder keg that could blow up into a global crisis with a single inadvertant gunshot.
While you are watching the caravan approach the border, whether you are rooting for them to get in or rooting for them to get killed, ask yourself how you got here. Did your family “invade” America? Were your ancestors citizens when they came to America? When your first “birthright” ancestor was born, was its parent a citizen?
How did the hate get so strong, the ethno-jingo-xenophobia so overwhelming, that some of you might actually be rooting for American soldiers to shoot unarmed farmers and their children for wanting to live in America?
Flip a coin. Heads they come in, tails they get shot. You’ll know which one you are rooting for by how you feel about the result. If you don’t want them shot, breathe a sigh of relief and stop supporting a maniac. If you do …
Well, I hope you don’t.