Monday, September 26, 2016

Gridlock time

I do not usually watch made-for-TV political extravaganzas. Most of them, including probably all presidential debates subsequent to Kennedy-Nixon in 1960, amount to little in the longer ebb and flow of politics. But the accident of being where I am located today means I'll have to break my rule and watch this unpleasantness tonight. And probably therefore comment on it tomorrow. It would be more comfortable to simply look away from the train wreck, but that is not an available option.

Most of what I think is going on in this nasty season is captured in this succinct description from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. Don't be distracted by the dismissive pass he gives to Republican racism. He's nailed the structural impasse within which this campaign is playing out.

The problem for Republicans is simple to describe: it's not that their leaders are racist, but that they've long tolerated racism in their ranks. They know this perfectly well, and they know that they have to broaden their appeal beyond just whites. But they're stuck. If they do that—say, by supporting comprehensive immigration reform or easing up on opposition to affirmative action—their white base goes ballistic. In the end, they never make the base-broadening moves that they all know they have to make eventually.

For Democrats, the problem is the mirror image. Bashing Donald Trump and his supporters for their white nationalism helps with their base, but it's the worst possible way to attract working-class whites who might be attracted to traditional Democratic economic messages. Once you say the word "racism," the conversation is over. Potentially persuadable voters won't hear another word you say.

As long as this remains the case, Democrats will routinely win the presidency because their non-white base is growing every year. But Republicans will routinely win the House—and sometimes the Senate—because way more than half of all congressional districts are majority white. Result: endless gridlock.

The last time racism and federalism delivered a national impasse, this country had a civil war. Just mentioning this. Is that where this is going?


Freddy said...

How can we compromise with fascism? This is the most dangerous moment for us in years from this constant threat to America. We could end up with a fascist in the White House. Yes, we could have a civil war among a whole lot of factions, as in the Middle East.

Freddy said...

Freddy is me, Marianna. I am on someone else's computer.

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