Steve Schmidt is the “brilliant” political thinker who gave us Sarah Palin. now to be fair since he was McCain’s campaign advisor he has seen the direction that the Republican Party has gone in and it appalls him at least that’s what he says. Today’s podcast or short take, it is only about 20 minutes, highlighted the reasons that so many people admire Donald Trump. Why they’re sticking with Donald Trump in spite of everything that is demonstrably wrong with him; In spite of the fact that he tried to overthrow the government; in spite of his criminality; the grift, just everything involved with Donald Trump makes many of us say to ourselves that no sane person could possibly support him, and yet people do; people we know do.
According to Schmidt the reason so many people are loyal to Trump is because He represents the big F-You to the government, to the world, I guess to everybody. He expresses the F-You that many people feel.
Now I understand what Schmidt is saying here and he is not wrong, but his story is incomplete The questions we have to ask are why things have not gotten better for these people. Why do these people think that the world is working against them? To get a better understanding of why these people feel this way it would be smart to go to Robert B. Reich’s “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It. Reich makes the point that The key problem has been that the increasing concentration of wealth has led to a huge concentration of political power which further leads to a concentration of wealth. This is a feedback loop with feedback in only one direction and if you think about any systems there have to be feedback in multiple directions think about a heater on a heater produces heat and then there has to be some way to remove the heat from the heater either forced air or running water to cool it something has to be done to remove the heat. Otherwise the system ultimately gets too hot and fails.
In our political and economic system today there is no reverse to the feedback loop that increases power and wealth.
I will cover this more in depth in a later posting but for now what I want to add to Schmidt’s analysis is that I think he completely leaves off the racial/scapegoating aspect of Trump’s appeal. And here is where we can draw almost a straight line from Schmidt’s creation Sarah Palin to Donald Trump. Palin talked frequently about “Real Americans” and by real Americans we can only assume she meant white Americans. And this is the other part of the problem we face. Since the beginning of this country White Christian males have controlled all the levers of political and economic power. However over the past 20 years we have seen more women, People of color and other minorities gain power, win political office, and become a significant plurality, soon to be the majority. Trump appeals to the racist and misogynists, And you can’t really understand the Republican Party today unless you acknowledge the racial animus that drives much of it.
As Joe Scarborough pointed out this morning republicans have only won the popular vote in a presidential election Once since 1992. Were it not for the gerrymandering that took place after the 2000 and ten elections which were largely a backlash to the election of a black president, The Republican Party would have much less power today than it does.