News & Politics

Charles Blow Predicted the Rise of Trumpism in 2014

The New York Times columnist knew a backlash against America's first black president was coming.

Photo Credit: Youtube Screencap / CNN

In a column that went up on November 23, 2014, for following day’s New York Times. It blew me away, so I posted thiswhich got a lot of traffic on DailyKos. In light of the events of the past year, since Trump took office, considering what has happened on many issues Blow addressed, I thought it worthwhile to share again.

Happy Boxing Day, as they say in the UK.

Charles M. Blow just knocked it out of the park

In his column for Monday's New York Times, titled Bigger than Immigration.  After beginning by telling us this is not just about immigration, or tactics, or the President's "lack of obsequiousness to his detractors"  (and the use of that word might forewarn you of where Blow is going), he writes:

This hostility and animosity toward this president is, in fact, larger than this president. This is about systems of power and the power of symbols. Particularly, it is about preserving traditional power and destroying emerging symbols that threaten that power. This president is simply the embodiment of the threat, as far as his detractors are concerned, whether they are willing or able to articulate it as such.

Blow tells us to:

Pay attention to the overall response from all sources, particularly the rhetoric in which it is wrapped.

And then offers quotations from the likes of Speaker Boehner, Rep. Louis Gohmert, and Andrew McCarthy of the National Review, followed immediately by these words:  

There is no denying the insinuations in such language: a fear of subjugation by people like this president, an “other” person, predisposed to lawlessness.

By now anyone who is a sentient human being should understand how much the Republicans/Conservatives/Tea Partiers and their allies in parts of the media and in parts of Corporate America have wanted to delegitimize Obama - we have "birthers," we have people who claim he is a Muslim, and we know even absent either of those false issues the mere fact that his skin is Black is sufficient in the eyes of many to consider Obama illegitimate.

But there is more.

Obama represents a threat to their understanding of a traditional America.  Blow absolutely nails that in this paragraph:  

From this worldview, liberalism isn’t simply an alternate political sensibility, but a rot, an irreparable ruination, a violation of the laws of the land as the Founding Fathers (most of whom owned slaves at some point) envisioned, but also of the laws of nature, which they see as being directed by God. There are so many examples of this: opposition to L.G.B.T. rights, to the science undergirding climate change and efforts to arrest that change, and to allowing women a full range of reproductive options.

Note how skillfully Blow ties together all of the paranoia of the Right in rejecting not merely Obama, whom most here would not necessarily consider the most liberal of Democrats, but of the liberal world view as well.

Ironic, considering that the Founding Fathers were in some ways quite radical - they were willing to totally overthrow the settled order as dictated to them by conservative supporters of the Monarchy.

Blow provides many examples, whether Tom Coburn or Joni Ernst, before writing a final paragraph which should give us all pause:

Make no mistake: This debate is not just about this president, this executive order or immigration. This is about the fear that makes the face flush when people stare into a future in which traditional power — their power — is eroded, and about their desperate, by-any-means determination to deny that future.

Read those words again, specifically: their desperate, by-any-means determination to deny that future.

We have seen elements of that already -

denying people the vote by any means possible

using wealth to crowd out any alternative point of view

seeing threats of violence, including from people who in theory take an oath to uphold the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic

subverting the legal processes and Courts

buying legislators and governors

destroying public institutions and privatizing their functions, from schools to hospitals to water companies to police forces to the Postal Service to the US Military - even an attempt to privatize the National Weather Service

and yet these yahoos claim they are traditionalist?

We confront an existential threat to the future of the United States as a functioning liberal democracy - and hey folks, that is the technical term for the kind of governmental system established by the US Constitution.

We confront a similar existential threat to the stability of the American economy and thus to the economy of the world.  

The two should not be related, but they are, with the plutocrats willing to use the fears of the likes of the Tea Partiers to destroy and subvert the government to enrich themselves.

No political figure, no political party, should be unchallenged when seeking to divide Americans into those who are "legitimate" and those who being "other" are not entitled to full participation in the democratic practice of governance through voting, and to the protections of all PERSONS (not just citizens) under the Constitution as Amended first with Ten Amendments in 1791, and then again specifically with the 14th Amendment in 1868.

Hell, some of these people are prepared to repeal the 13th Amendment banning involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime - and then they want to criminalize being Black, Hispanic, Muslim, atheist, Gay, or a woman seeking to use birth control or to terminate a pregnancy.

Read Blow.

As you can see, he got me going.

At a time when normally I would already be in bed (I get up by 4 AM to get ready to teach), his column inspired/provoked me to want to make others aware of it, and to add my own thoughts, or if you prefer, fulminations.


Is it still possible in our domestic politics?

I wonder.


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