Friday, May 27, 2016

The White Man's Party

A friend who lives in Texas recounted an interesting story in an email to me today. While waiting in line at the airport, he overheard a conversation about Trump from Trump supporters. Evidently one of them thought that the wall with Mexico was necessary, because without it the influx on Latin immigrants would make it so that the Democrats would always win, and that then the country would be a one party state on the road to dictatorship.

The latter claim is, on its face, ridiculous. However, this person's assumptions say a lot. He assumes, essentially, that anyone who isn't white will be voting for the Democrats, and that his party would rather dwindle into irrelevance rather than appeal to those voters. At base, he is consciously or unconsciously thinking that the Republican Party is the white man's party, and that he wants to keep it that.

It's easy to forget, but George W Bush won substantial percentages of the Asian and Latino vote back in 2004.  There was a time when it looked like the Republicans were going to use values issues and promises of prosperity to lure voters for these groups into their tent. With Trump as the nominee, that has now obviously changed. His appeal is primarily to ethno-nationalism, which is why working class people of color are not attracted by all of his tough talk on trade.

By embracing Trump, the GOP may finally be admitting that they are indeed the White Man's Party. It's not so unprecedented in American life. Back in 1868, when the Democrats were fighting Reconstruction and appealing to the racist whites who now back Trump, they proclaimed themselves thusly:

Of course, times have changed. The shifting demographics feared by that man in Texas make this strategy more difficult. Then again, the reactionaries today are using one of the same weapons used by their Redeemer forbears: vote suppression.

Trump is certainly doing nothing to disabuse anyone of the notion that he represents the white man's party. His campaign even announced that it would only be considering white men to be Trump's veep, since anything else would be "pandering." This statement and Trump's rampant misogyny point to the fact that he is indeed the leader of the white MAN's party, not white people's party. You may wonder if this is a winning strategy, considering that it potentially alienates white women. The thing is, intersectionality cuts both ways, and also interacts with whiteness.  A majority of white women voted for Mitt "binders full of women" Romney, and I would hazard to guess that white women, when it comes to politics, are more invested in whiteness than in their gender.

The fact that a majority of my white brethren will probably vote for Trump in the general election is deeply upsetting to me.  It's also a reminder that, as others more famous than I have said, treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.


Rich Goldstein said...

Just last night I was just trying to remember who said that last bit about loyalty to humanity. The best answer I could come up with was Noel Ignatiev, but the source for that is Ignatiev himself and an article on The Blaze, so not the best or most objective sources. (Also, if you look up Noel Ignatiev on YouTube, the majority of the search results on the first page are of the variety: "The Jew Harvard Professor...", "Jew Harvard Professor", etc.). Do you know where the quote originates?

Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report has recently been saying in articles and speeches that there has always been a white man's party in America and that position is currently occupied by the Republican Party, and has been for at least half a century. [] While I agree with Ford on that point, they only occupy the right wing of the white man's party with the majority of the Democractic party taking up the left or center of the same (and to be fair he may also make this point although I don't remember if I have heard him phrase it as such).

Moorehead/Lilly 2016

chaunceydevega said...

Again, where is your NY Times editorial? Write it up brother.

That quote is from Ignatiev's great journal/project "Race Traitor".

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Rich: Yes, as Chauncey mentioned, I was quoting Noel Ignatiev. I don't have a whole lot of love for the Democratic Party, but I like to call it my political flag of convenience.

Chauncey: NYT is pretty big on credentials with the stuff they publish, my credentials are not the right ones. I promise, however, to use my downtime this summer to start sending out things for publication.

bmi said...

Interestingly enough, the guy at the airport claimed to have a PhD (in nuclear engineering, I think), and I believe he was flying back home to Washington, DC. So this isn't just a Texas thing.