Welcome to “Double Throw Down Thursday” (not really a thing, but for today’s blog, what the hell). Trump has managed to get the establishment twice worked up in a week. First, HUD Secretary of Ben Carson is changing housing policy and Trump likes it. Then Trump suggests delaying the 2020 election. The latter tweet comes just in time to distract the public over the shit show put on by House Democrats during the testimony of Attorney General William Barr. Sometimes Trump can’t get out his own way. Okay, a lot of times he can’t get out of his own way. Let’s begin with the “call” to postpone the 2020 presidential election.
Media darling Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, recently said that we could get back to some normalcy by the end of the year. He’s excited about the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that uses novel technology to (hopefully—profitably) provoke immunity in people against a virus that well more than 99 percent of people survive. In his tweet, amid the constraints of a pandemic, Trump is asking a question about timing. I don’t agree with delaying the election. I do have a problem with universal mail-in voting. But I remind readers that, when Wisconsin governor Tony Evers actually called for a delay in voting (I opposed this move, for the record), progressives lined up behind him. Then they hurled insults at Republicans for rebuffing Evers’ call.
The spate of news stories about Trump wondering out loud whether a delay in the election should be considered given the pandemic and the problems with universal mail-in voting (loss of national solidarity, not being able to conduct on-the-spot exit polling useful for detecting voter fraud, and other things—see NPR’s recent article on how mail-in voting is fraught with problems) are written in a sensationalistic manner to leave the impression that the president aims to establish a fascist dictatorship. My Facebook newsfeed is chockfull of panic over Trump’s pending fascist dictatorship. Mission accomplished.
Here’s the BBC’s take. I should say “takes.” Note the different headlines. The BBC changed the headline after at first “misrepresenting” the president’s tweet. That the BBC did this is important since its reach is global. Bring on the panic.
Here’s more fake news from CNN: “Trump Floats Delaying Election Despite Lack of Authority to Do So.” Maybe this is just a badly worded headline. Is it referring to Trump’s lack of authority to delay the election or his lack of authority to ask whether the nation ought to consider a delay given the pandemic? But can we really be charitable with CNN given its clearly established pattern of Trump-bashing?
According to the story, “Trump has no authority to delay an election, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date for voting. Lawmakers from both parties said almost immediately there was no likelihood the election would be delayed.” There you go. As CNN itself notes, Congress sets the vote. This is a constitutional republic that has stood for more than two centuries. It has survived civil war and world war. Republicans quickly pushed back against the idea. No problem. We can move on.
Not so fast. “Trump’s message provides an opening—long feared by Democrats—that both he and his supporters might refuse to accept the presidential results.” Only Democrats are allowed to refuse to accept the results of a presidential election (see Gore v Bush 2000). But wait, what does this have to do with delaying an election? When Evers called for postponing the election in Wisconsin, did that tell us that he was prepared to refuse to accept the results of the election when it was actually held? (See also Republicans openly challenge Trump’s tweet on delaying election.)
The frenzy over Trump’s tweet is nothing new. The hysteria began the day Trump was elected. Today’s freak-out is yet another instantiation of the globalist-corporatist effort pushed by the establishment media and the Democratic Party to undermine the legitimacy of a democratically-elected presidency by spreading fear, ginning up public outrage, and fomenting “popular” resistance to imaginary and misrepresented things. The panic presumes Trump is a fascist. The panic reinforces that presumption.
Round and round we go. Chicken Littles are running amok on my Facebook newsfeed. A segment of the population has become addicted to cortisol. And I am trying very hard to not to slide into misanthropy. But I digress….
This is a not merely a double standard on the progressive side. Progressives are projecting onto Trump their irrational beliefs about this president and the current situation. At the same time, many of the same people who think Trump will postpone an election—or refuse to accept the results of the election—in order to establish a fascist dictatorship embrace a regressive tribalist countermovement endeavoring to undermine democratic-republican institutions and restrict civil liberties and rights. The real extremism in America today is Antifa and Black Lives Matter, groups tearing down and blowing up stuff to convince Americans to abolish the police and dismantle the nuclear family.
I get why marketers use social media to determine attitude and desire. As a sociologist, I have before me a detailed ethnographic record from which I can distill worldviews. After more than a decade of observation, I conclude that the people who think Trump is a fascist are mostly the same people who think that the chaos in our cities is “peaceful protest,” equate speech and even silence to “violence,” while opposing the deployment of law enforcement to quell actual violence, call for the shuttering businesses and forcing everybody into PPE, clamor to see everybody by force or shame jabbed with vaccines using novel technology, reject therapeutics not endorsed by big pharmaceutical companies who have captured our regulatory agencies, call for keeping our children homebound and away from their peers and teachers, and push globalization and mass immigration at the expense of American families (who should be dismantled anyway along with their “privileges”).
If you examine these attitudes closely you, too, will probably see an overarching ideology at work. Progressives express a loss of faith in the institutions of Western civilization that they themselves have sown with their rhetoric and actions. We are seeing a self-fulfilling prophecy at work. Progressives sow discord over imaginary or hyped up threats and then cry “fascism” when patriots stand up to them and rise to defend the republic. All this is managed by a vast propaganda apparatus. It’s a project.
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We see more of this in the fallout over the resent HUD decision. Grace Panetta, columnist for The Business Insider (and granddaughter of life-long Democratic operative Leon Panetta), put the spin on this one to make Trump out to be a white supremacist stoking racist fears.
Last Thursday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson (himself a frequent target of outrage and ridicule by progressives) announced that his office would rescind the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation that required state and local governments seeking federal housing funding to collect data on demographics and living conditions and, importantly, to show that they were not perpetuating racial discrimination. Trump voiced support for the change in the tweets above.
Housing advocates immediate criticized the rule change claiming that it would allow discriminatory housing practices. For example, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said the rule change “represents a complete retreat from efforts to undo historic, government-driven patterns of housing discrimination and segregation throughout the US” and would “allow communities to ignore the essential racial desegregation obligations of fair housing law.”
Panetta writes, “Wednesday’s tweets were among Trump’s most explicit overtures to white fear and grievance in his bid to win back suburban voters who have been staunchly repudiating the GOP since he took office.” This move comes, she notes, amid evidence that Biden is beating Trump among white, college-educated, and suburban voters. Trump’s alleged strategy is to scare white voters over Biden’s housing plans, namely that said policies would make their neighborhoods less safe and desirable. Panetta cites this tweet in support of her accusation:
Panetta tells the readers of Business Insider that many observers find Trump’s references to “suburban housewives” and his linking Biden with crime and disorder in the suburbs “appear to stem from an outdated view of suburbs as almost completely occupied by wealthy white people who are fearful of crime and distrustful of diversity in their communities.” The article points to a PEW survey indicating that “today’s suburbs are far more racially and economically diverse than those of the mid-to-late 20th century, when ‘white flight’ propelled many white Americans to flee urban areas for suburbs.” (You can read about these developments here, as well.)
Why does Panetta and her ilk assume Trump is playing to white suburban fears of yesteryear rather than to the diverse suburban fears that exist today? Are black and brown suburbanites unconcerned about the effect of low income housing on property values and the problems of crime? (There is, after all, an association.) Or is it only white people who are concerned about property values and crime? Remember, Trump is making a major play for black and brown votes in his reelection strategies. Panetta is not only making assumptions about Trump’s intent; she is assuming that low income housing and criminality is a function of black and brown people and she does this in the face of the PEW survey she has right in front of her.
When Panetta quotes Paul Waldman’s July 21 op-ed in The Washington Post that “the idea that Biden wants to ‘destroy the suburbs’ makes no sense,” that this idea is “only coherent if you think that an increase in racial diversity would ‘destroy’ the suburbs, which means that the suburbs only exist if they’re all-white,” she is along with Waldman assuming Trump is talking about the problem of racial diversity and not about the impact of low income housing on property values and the problem of criminality. Again, why assume this? Why assume that the only threat to property and person in suburbs is from racial minorities—many of whom now live in the suburbs?
Waldman calls Trump’s rhetoric race-baiting. But who is actually doing the race-baiting? Why does low income housing and crime always have to be about black and brown people? Why is concern for these problems only to be found among whites who are then accused of racism for expressing it? Could the concern be about social class and economics?
Panetta and Waldman and others feel comfortable broadly generalizing about race relations while avoiding the class question because they operate from the premise that the president is a white supremacist and that fear of crime can be reduced to race. They are in the media elite bubble. Indeed, they are so committed to the presumptions of the hegemony in which they imbibe that, without any reflection or self-doubt, and without any evidence, they attribute to the president motives that are not apparent.
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People really have to stop freaking out every time Trump tweets something. Folks are being played. Not by Trump. By the people who want you to panic over populism. How would it be possible that Trump could just stay in office beyond his term or bend the Constitution to his ends? It’s incredible that he’s stayed in office this long given the efforts of the deep state to drive him out. Law enforcement would walk into the White House and perp walk the man out. There’s no Mussolini or Hitler moment in our future. Not from Trump, at least.
If you want to understand the real power dynamics in the world read C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite, Sheldon Wolin’s Democracy, Inc., David Korten’s When Corporations Rule the Earth, Bill Robinson’s Promoting Polyarchy, Joel Kotkin’s The Coming of Neo-Feudalism.
Trump and the populists worldwide are outsiders to the globalist-corporatist order. We should be so lucky that they could have a lasting impact of things (we might get back our republic and our liberties). Indeed, why you are conditioned to freak out about Trump is to push you into the arms of the nexus of world historical power: the network of transnational corporations working hand in hand with the Chinese Communist Party.
You are being played and I only wish you’d feel a bit more shame about that instead of the self-righteous bullshit you keep slinging.