The Republican Party has been taken over by an unscrupulous populist demagogue. His loyalty is to himself, not to his party or any ideology. He glories in violating political norms. He trashes liberals and government bureaucrats but has no use for limiting the government’s powers—at least, not his own powers. He has no problem with deficit spending, provided he can direct it to his base. He plays on white grievance and inflames racial division, while bragging that many black Americans support him and complaining that liberal bullies play the race card to shut him up. He gleefully attacks intellectuals and experts as enemies of America and common sense. He is not above calling his opponents traitors and hinting that they should be dealt with violently. In a crisis, as at present, he is a genius at finding others to blame. And the more he shocks and blames, the more his supporters love him for speaking forbidden truths and standing up to condescending elites.
The politician I speak of is, of course, George Corley Wallace.
As I write these words, President Donald Trump is bungling the worst crisis of his presidency, and of our era. He is failing to promulgate any kind of coherent strategy to cope with the coronavirus; he is maundering senselessly about injecting disinfectants into people; firm majorities of the public disapprove of and distrust his handling of the pandemic. Yet despite all of that and more, he is solid with Republicans and is likely to get at least 45 percent of the two-party vote in November. Some of his supporters, of course, will back him because of who he is not (a Democrat), but many will back him because of who he is—or, rather, who he emulates.
Today more than ever, Trump’s outrageous style, unprecedented rule-breaking, and sheer weirdness make him seem a radical discontinuity, a bizarre anomaly who came out of nowhere. Although that interpretation is not entirely wrong, it is not really right, either. Equally true, if not more so, is that Trump is a radical continuity, merely the most florid and successful avatar of a white-populist movement that has built strength and solidarity over more than half a century, mostly under elites’ radar. In that sense, Trump’s base—the base that catapulted him from reality TV to the most powerful office in the world—does not really belong to the Republican Party. In fact, it does not even belong to Trump. Rather, he is renting it—or perhaps it is renting him. Either way, he is not the first in the series, and he won’t be the last.
“We can foresee that unless something changes in American political culture and civil life,” says Dan Carter, a historian and Wallace biographer, “we’re doomed to deal with Trumps, whether they’re this Donald Trump or future Donald Trumps, for the next generation.” Thank George Wallace for that.
Sometimes, history really is just depressing, and I say that as someone with a bachelor’s degree in it.
Trump…. also noted that the Department of Homeland Security was studying the effect disinfectants – on surfaces – could have on the coronavirus. The president again wondered aloud whether that impact could be translated somehow into fighting the virus in people.
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute,” Trump said. “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”
It’s official; the warning labels on bleach are there because our president is so fucking stupid, he thinks this sort of shit is perfectly fine to tell people.