it Always Comes Back To Racism…

Let me begin today’s discussion with a disclaimer: I’m fully aware that–at least in the context of public policy and governance–nothing is simple and linear. When it comes to humankind’s longstanding bigotries, for example, there’s ample evidence that they come to the surface more forcefully in times of economic downturn and/or unease, and can be triggered by recognition of demographic change.

But that said, there is also a veritable mountain of research confirming that today’s civil discord is primarily grounded in racism. We may not be having a “hot” civil war, but it is abundantly clear that the most prominent and damaging elements of our current dysfunctions are rooted in the same moral sickness that prompted the original one.

Recently, Thomas Edsall surveyed some of that evidence for the New York Times. Here’s his lede

Why is Donald Trump’s big lie so hard to discredit?

This has been a live question for more than a year, but inside it lies another: Do Republican officials and voters actually believe Trump’s claim that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election by corrupting ballots — the same ballots that put so many Republicans in office — and if they do believe it, what are their motives?

A December 2021 University of Massachusetts-Amherst survey found striking links between attitudes on race and immigration and disbelief in the integrity of the 2020 election.

Surveys have found that 66 percent of self-identified Republicans agreed with the statement that “the growth of the number of immigrants to the U.S. means that America is in danger of losing its culture and identity.”  (I have actually been amused–in a “black humor” sort of way–by the GOP’s recent laments about the dearth of workers, especially in the hospitality and food industries. They seem utterly clueless to the rather obvious link between severely depressed immigration numbers and the “inexplicable” lack of people willing to pick crops and be restaurant servers. But I digress.)

Edsall shared the following paragraph from an essay by four political scientists, further emphasizing the link between racial attitudes and unfounded beliefs.

Divisions over racial equality were closely related to perceptions of the 2020 presidential election and the Capitol attack. For example, among those who agreed that white people in the United States have advantages based on the color of their skin, 87 percent believed that Joe Biden’s victory was legitimate; among neutrals, 44 percent believed it was legitimate; and among those who disagreed, only 21 percent believed it was legitimate. Seventy percent of people who agreed that white people enjoy advantages considered the events of Jan. 6 to be an insurrection; 26 percent of neutrals described it that way; and only 10 percent who disagreed did so, while 80 percent of this last group called it a protest. And while 70 percent of those who agreed that white people enjoy advantages blamed Trump for the events of Jan. 6, only 34 percent of neutrals did, and a mere 9 percent of those who disagreed did.

In his column, Edsall traced the scholarly dispute between researchers who believe that poll respondents claiming to believe The Big Lie really do know better, and are using their purported agreement as a way of signaling that they are part of the tribe/cult, and those who think these respondents have actually imbibed the Kool Aid. He also quotes Isabell Sawhill of The Brookings Institution, who suggests that there is a dynamic at work here– that what was originally an “opportunistic strategy to please the Trump base” has had the effect of solidifing that base.

It’s a Catch-22. To change the direction of the country requires staying in power, but staying in power requires satisfying a public, a large share of whom has lost faith in our institutions, including the mainstream media and the democratic process.

In response to an inquiry from Edsall, Paul Begala wrote

Trump lives by Machiavelli’s famous maxim that fear is a better foundation for loyalty than love. G.O.P. senators don’t fear Trump personally; they fear his followers. Republican politicians are so cowed by Trump’s supporters, you can almost hear them moo.

Elected officials who know better may lack both the backbone and integrity to oppose the party’s Trumpist base, but–as a professor from MIT pointed out–there’s a reason the base loves Trump, and it’s simple: racial animus and Christian millennialism.

No wonder they engage in an unremitting culture war.

As a sociologist at N.Y.U. described our current, dangerous political dynamic: “In capturing the party, Trump perfectly embodied its ethno-nationalist and authoritarian tendencies.”

I guess labeling the GOP as “ethno-nationalist” is nicer than calling it out as irredeemably racist. But it means the same thing.


  1. Yes, it does. Just sharing an article I found incredibly interesting for its fresh look at the question this blog has beat to death – that of the real foundation of The Former Guy’s populist support and the stranglehold it has on many if not the majority of Republican politicians. In short the author, Melinda Cooper of Australian National University argues that:

    “The specificity of Tea Party grievances makes more sense if we understand it as a movement of small business owners, many of whom saw the values of their housing and business assets depreciate overnight as a result of the subprime crisis. The Trump diehards who cut their teeth in the Tea Party were not wage workers, nor even misclassified independent contractors, but small businesspeople concentrated in the blue-collar residential construction sector and its white-collar satellite professions of homeware retail, real-estate services, mortgage brokerage, and accounting. It was the meteoric rise and fall of the small business sector—not the long saga of deindustrialization—that gave birth to the current cycle of far-right populism”.

    One reason I found this so insightful was the surprised reaction that the press and politicians had at the demographic makeup of the hundreds of people arrested after participating in the January 6 insurrection: Many of them were financially well-off and small business owners, contractors and/or professionals. Not angry blue collar workers.

  2. Patrick–and most were from “blue” cities, where the growth of diversity and the shrinking of the White Christian majority was “in their face,” not from the red hinterlands that buffered them from daily reminders of imminent change.

  3. While the Oligarchs use racism to divide and conquer, it should be noted that the Democratic National Party used their media sources to convince people of color that Bernie Sanders would lose to the racist Trump. The DNC then folded all their remaining cards and placed the inept Kamala Harris as Veep while letting Elizabeth Warren toss bombs at Bernie again.

    It worked.

    But, I’m afraid it worked for the last time. Even people of color have caught on to this scheme. Biden and the DNC have done nothing and are losing their shirts.

    But, guess what?

    The Oligarchs don’t care. They’ll be fine with Mr. Trumpy especially with wars on both fronts. The media keeps on playing people as long as you believe them and you will believe them because the TV would never lie. LOL

  4. Racism (black/white) doesn’t go anywhere; it is always there, sometimes out of the spotlight while another race is the issue. Is it only in America that one drop of Black blood determines a person’t race as Black? A carryover from pre-Civil War and Reconstruction days. This was never more true than regarding President Barack Obama who was raised by his white mother and primarily his white grandparents. He didn’t know his Black family till in his 30s when he went to Kenya to meet his father’s family. I still don’t understand why his white lineage was never given any of the credit for the outstanding man he was and remains so.

    “Surveys have found that 66 percent of self-identified Republicans agreed with the statement that “the growth of the number of immigrants to the U.S. means that America is in danger of losing its culture and identity.”

    As I posted in the recent blog issue of “Identity” I learned via 23andMe that I am British-Irish-French-German-Scandinavian-American. My culture and identity is American; search your DNA and let us know if you find yourself to be of one pure ethnic identity. Trump’s 2020 Census only questioned our race; 2 questions regarding Hispanic identity. First question was how many persons of Hispanic identity live in your home? Second questions was how many persons of Hispanic identity who were not listed in question one live in your home? The last few questions sought the ethnic origin of those living in your home. The responses to those questions and our home addresses were the basis of the latest gerrymandering to determine our RIGHT to vote and the ABILITY to travel to our assigned polling places. The 2020 Census has made it much easier for Republicans to suppress our voting rights and ability to vote.

    “It Always Comes Back To Racism…” is ruling Congress and controlling the outcome of the 2022 and the 2024 elections. The current Republican minority is still the ruling party in Congress and at state levels. Be afraid, be very afraid! Beyond here there be dragons!

  5. Jo Ann, to follow up on something you said about Barack Obama. Because his father was black, society considers him to be black. But logically, because his mother was white, he was just as much white as black. But no one ever (in person or in the media) points that out, which illustrates perfectly how illogical, and racially biased our society is.

  6. What does it mean when fewer than half of the so-called neutrals believe Biden was elected fairly? I find that number the most troubling of all and question whether in this political climate anyone can – or should – be neutral when the facts and the risks to our democracy are clear.

  7. Sheila, excellent post this morning.

    Also, thank you for the advice!

    That being said, I don’t really believe it’s very complicated considering racism has been around since the beginning of mankind’s existence on this planet.

    In illinois, we’re supposed to be very liberal-minded folks, lol, but, I would definitely admit Illinois is a hot mess.

    I worked for the major utility here for many many years, made a lot of money, my wife worked as a middle manager for a major multinational pharmaceutical company based in North Chicago illinois. She did extremely well financially but, not as well as she would have if she was white. The Caucasian managers around her were nowhere near as educated as she was, but those are the ones that promoted even higher, constantly bypassing my wife even though her qualifications were much more than just Superior to theirs.

    I listened to the men I worked with, all supposedly enlightened? Men who made well over $150,000 a year. They talked about how aggrieved they were, and how they made things miserable for blacks and Latinos so they would quit. It truly pissed me off, but upper management, didn’t want to hear about it, and didn’t want people rocking the boat and changing the status quo. So, I definitely had a large Target painted on my back, and was warned by the Union to watch it because the knives were out. And, they were right!

    Politically correct as a battle cry, was just a code to claim it was all right to hate those who are not like you! Donald Trump was just the ultimate permission slip here. But, the world was ready for and ripe towards what’s happening now. Just because individuals are educated or they’re in the upper middle class, doesn’t mean they can’t be self-aggrieved.

    I learned a long time ago, everything is so entrenched, you can’t fight it! Myself, I chose a different way! And, it works for me and mine. Myself, and my family, choose not to live a miserable life trying to deal with something that has no cure. So, at the risk of letting my left hand know what my right is doing, a scriptural reference by the way, I feed the less fortunate, I offer my home to some individuals who don’t have a place to live. I try to explain that there is hope beyond the visual universe. I tried to cultivate a deep faith and inculcate that faith, along with love and hope.

    When you do the right thing by your neighbors IE fellow man, your life is much much better.

    Years ago, as an experiment, our city changed rapidly. And, my neighbors were first generation immigrants of Latin descent. Or I might say, Latino and spanish. I speak very little Spanish but the interactions show love. And, I’ve actually told my neighbors, because they are kind people, that I really loved them. And you know what? They returned the same. I never have to worry about anything being done on my property if I’m sick, and they don’t either! I make sure that if I’m collecting food from food pantries to help those less fortunate, and so they get enough for their children.

    If you truly love your neighbor and love god, as Christ emphatically taught, it is an amazing thing. And when you see people change, you know you’ve done your best as a representative of humanity. We have heretofore not reached our potential! We have untapped abilities that will never be reached the way the world is now. Because the world is actually regressing. And that, is an unfortunate thing, but, something that will eventually bring about real and lasting change. 🤔😁

  8. Having read “The Prince,” I would say that Machiavelli gets a bum rap, and thet Trump runs on the premise of Mafiosa.
    It has been racism for the GOP/GQP for many decades, they just used to be concerned about hiding it behind euphemisms.

  9. Racism is an expression of tribalism, which has been a very positive and equally negative factor in keeping us alive. If only we’d developed more BONOBO traits, instead of CHIMPANZEE.


  10. Ah…this morning’s rants, fears and anguish…take that energy and DO SOMETHING….especially local. The GOP hungry are all over the coming local elections for school boards, state judges, etc.

  11. There are many social phenomena that can be explained by the trend among Republicans trained in the Foxhole to use culture war as a political tool. It explains most of the icons of the party. There can be no question left about the role that Fox News plays in the affairs of the party after the communications have been revealed between entertainers like Sean Hannity directly with Trump while he was President. It’s a partnership in propaganda.

    Of the many cultural wars in play right now the easiest one to understand is racism because of the incipient nature of it. It didn’t go away in the ’60s, it just went inside of people and festered. It didn’t take brilliant propaganda strategies to bring it back into daily play.

    Republicans want power and they have taken the gloves off to take it, not earn it.

    As always, the question is, what can Democrats do about it given the nature of democracy other than reveal it as often and as clearly and as prominently as possible and hope that there are enough people left who think more than feel?

  12. Pascal de Caprariis – if you want a fuller explanation of why Obama is considered black instead of white, please read “The 1619 Project”, IHMO the best book about the history of racism ever. It goes back to children born of white emslavers and their black “property” women. By English law, children inherited from their fathers. To make sure that child born of mixed race remained property, any child born of a black mother was considered black and therefore “property”, and could not inherit anything from anybody.
    Racism permeates everything in the USA. It’s a wonder Black people don’t rise up in anger and destroy all whites!
    And if anyone wants to understand the idea of reparations, read the book. No wonder the GOP doesn’t want white people to read these books!! I am deeply ashamed of most of our white ancestors for the damage done to an entire race of people. There should be some system of reparations put in place immediately.

  13. The people that formed the Tea Party were extreme outliers of the GOP that had no other way to power but thru the GOP, holding their extreme views about unfair government, Christians believing they were being forced out of the public square, rural folks worried they were becoming the new minority and we’re being marginalized, white blue color workers seeing themselves as being pushed of the lower rungs of the ladder by minority’s at all levels of businesses. That’s part of why they have armed themselves, and become the dedicated listeners and watchers of AM talk radio, Fox, internet propaganda coming over cell phones along with unlimited of political funding by the Mega wealthy who have their own greed driven agendas stoking and propelling discontent.
    The Tea Party offered these people a host in the form of the GOP to attach its self to and they set about doing what all parasites do. Trump was the name of disease that infected just about all parts of the victim “American Democracy” and almost killed it, and it is still a long way from recovery only graded care in the ICU.
    Like all movements global events often propelled these efforts, like Corona, Vaccinations, Global economic interruptions, and the realizations as to how fragile our entire supply systems really are, from winter power outages in Texas, increased fuel costs, grocery store and retail availabilities, from toilet paper to parts that make things work, and working and being educated at home.
    American Corporations have sold out our industrial might for cheaper labor, quality of materials, and our technologies.
    We produce very little in consumer products , we can’t fix what we have, and we have allowed our education system to become 2nd rate by not paying teachers, and saddling students with massive debt, we have not training a workforce capable of fixing, repairing, building and creating goods and services.
    The Corona virus has people weary of tomorrow, tired of politics not able to govern, fearful of their and their children’s futures, worried about the roof over their heads from catastrophic events they they refuse to grasp.
    2022 will be a critical year for our nation, and fearful of the forces willing to tear it all down, I feel are greater that the wills to hold it together.
    And it appears the SCOTUS and judiciary have become politically weaponized, which leads to the ultimate mistrust of out democracy.

  14. Hard to believe I just read “Biden and the DNC have done nothing” etc etc
    No, I’m not going count the many things that have been in fact been accomplished. It’s out there to find for any interested party.

  15. I think a lot of people have misplaced loyalties.

    Excuse the faux pas in my earlier comment, I’m not used to doing this on my phone but, today is a day of giving to those who need help. So I have to get everything done before the temperature goes well below zero the rest of this week.

    Believe me, I used to revel in the hatred because of what was done to me in my youth by people who are really wastes of skin. At least that was my opinion of them at the time. I’ve softened somewhat since then.

    The point I was trying to make this morning; it is Way beyond government to correct the problems of society.

    What everyone is talking about on this thread today, is, spitting into the wind. Have you ever witnessed evil before. I mean truly evil. When I was at the hospital with my wife, our friend told us that there was somebody in the intensive Care unit who actually had his sex organs and his face chewed off by his partner. Unfortunately this is not a rare occurrence, because it’s been reported around the country for quite a while now.

    You hear of these right-wing conspiracy theorists talking about liberals eating babies and sex trafficking. Now, as you heard from Donald trump, everything that he did, he would claim on his opposition. It’s the same with the masses of these individuals who claim to be working against satanic forces and carrying the shield of god.

    In essence they are telling you what they are doing! Just like all of those that were in the GOP roiled against homosexuality, and were perceived as staunch advocates of laws restricting any sort of equalizing laws and regulations to that community. And then you find out that many of these individuals were gay and they were still in the closet hiding who they were.

    When someone is insanely accusatory to the point of conflict, believe who they claim they are by what they say others are. It’s a deep-seated rot, and, the only way to get rid of it is to cut deep. I mentioned the past few days about declaring an executive order martial law edict. And, if this current individual in office doesn’t do it, the next person will definitely do it and there will be no other opportunity. I don’t expect it to happen, because I really believe that there’s going to be no coming back from what’s happening now.

    The band is playing beautiful music, but the Titanic is still sinking. I think you better prepare your life preserver or your lifeboat, because, my faith tells me that what’s coming is going to be unlike anything witnessed in history.

  16. Todd have you seen how much the Oligarchs have lost in Wall street. Maybe its deserved. The problem is the rest of the countys economybis in decline. Its good for people to trace where they came from. Right now so many politicians in office don’t know how to run a stable economy. Tough year ahead in the elections?

  17. John Sorg:
    As Belafonte quoted MLK,Jr in a more recent video
    “The house we are integrating into is on fire”
    his followers asked “what do we do about it?
    MLK said “we become firemen”
    How do we float the boat?

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