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Trump’s Dog Whistle

Is Donald Trump a racist? Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t read what’s in his heart any better than others. I would ask in turn, was Lee Atwater a racist? Atwater created the Willie Horton ad for George H. W. Bush’s campaign. Meanwhile, Atwater enjoyed hanging out with black musicians and playing blues music. The Horton ad is one of example of how racism has been used by cynical politicians to get elected. Ian Haney Lopez’s Dog Whistle Politics examines how politicians can exploit voter bias without being blatant enough to get caught. It is called plausible deniability. In the case of Willie Horton, at no time is he identified as black. The ads don’t have to. His picture says it all; big, scary black man who looks means and angry. Flash the words “rape” and “murder” with his face and the picture is complete. If you call out Dog Whistlers on their race baiting, they will not only deny it, but accuse you of racism. Obviously, you are the one seeing something that they can pretend wasn’t intended.

The Trump Dog Whistle is no different or original. His appeals for “Law and Order” are taken directly from Richard Nixon and George Wallace. He even took “Make America Great Again” from Ronald Reagan. To Trump, America was great when it was controlled by white, heterosexual men.

Then there is Trump’s Birtherism. The goal of the Birthers is delegitimize Obama’s presidency by accusing him of being born in Africa. He is not a real American. He is an outsider, not one of us. He isn’t white. When Tea Party demonstrators say, “We want our country back,” they mean from the black man who does not have the legitimacy to run it. (BTW, Trump now blames the origins of the Birther movement on Hillary Clinton, when it as actually started by the right wingers.)

http://www.factcheck.org/2008/06/obamas-birth-certificate/

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2011/apr/27/obama-birth-certificate-timeline/

http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-started-birther-movement/

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The use of the word “our” is interesting in this graphic from a Trump email. It is a photo of the Clinton’s embracing in the Oval office with the narrative “Don’t let Hillary move back into OUR White House.” The “our” is in all caps, bringing attention to the next word, which is “White.” This house is for whites. The Clintons, who associate with the black man Obama, lost their legitimacy to be there.

I blogged earlier this summer about Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow.” Again, I urge everyone to read it to understand how structural racism works in modern American society. Alexander and Lopez use the term “colorblindness” as the way Dog Whistlers shut down the discussion of racism and deny that their tactics are racist. With their bizarre logic, the Black Lives Matter movement is racist.

Trump has had trouble with disavowing support from white supremacists and has even shared their social media posts. When asked directly, he pleads ignorance. “I don’t know.” Historians have found how immigrant bashing is similar to the Know-Nothings just before the civil war.

When Trump gave his Wisconsin speech to a primarily white audience, he wanted us to believe he was appealing to black voters. In reality, he wants his prejudiced white supporters feel more comfortable with their prejudice.

Trump’s History Undermines New Outreach to Black Voters

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-s-history-undermines-new-outreach-black-voters-n635821

Trump West Bend, Wisconsin speech

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/full-text-donald-trumps-speech-on-227095

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/17/donald-trump-in-whitest-wisconsin-finally-makes-his-pitch-to-african-american-voters.html

While dying of brain cancer, Atwater came to regret his use of race to win an election. Let’s hope that something that drastic doesn’t happen to Trump before he realizes that his campaign for the presidency is a part of the problem, not the solution.

There are so many reasons why Trump should not be elected President, I have lost count. I am listing as many reasons as I can on why a Trump presidency will be a disaster. It will definitely be a setback for race relations in this country. That is why we need to defeat Donald Trump by double digits and prove that race baiting has no place in American politics.

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September 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Know Nothing Donald

Like many people early in the election season, I underestimated the support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Then Trump began to rack up delegates and force more mainstream candidates out of the race. I realized his isolationist, anti-immigrant message was striking a chord with many more people that I had been willing to accept.

Trump’s campaign has been compared to the rise of fascism in Europe before World War II, bolstered by Trump’s retweets of Neo-Nazis and Benito Mussolini himself. Much of Trump’s onstage demeanor is comparable to Mussolini. The crowds at his rallies chant “Trump! Trump! Trump!” in unison, evoking the atmosphere of a Hitler rally.

Comparing Trump to Hitler can be problematic. Trump has no plans for world domination and prefers economic isolationism. Nor would he get away with building concentration camps, even if he wanted to. He’d be too busy deporting immigrants and building a wall on the Mexican border. I doubt he will even be able to get those done.

It turns out, we don’t need to look to early Twentieth Century Europe to find a comparable time in history. We can find it here in the US in the decade before the civil war. I heard historian Kathleen Frydl explain it in a radio interview. She was talking about the the Know-Nothings. Officially, they were called the American Party that rose after the dissolution of the Whigs. Know-Nothings were notable for scapegoating immigrants, then mostly Irish and Catholic. Meanwhile, the country drifted to civil war, unable to resolve the issue of slavery.

I really enjoyed Frydl’s analysis and read her article in the Huffington Post. I was familiar with the Know-Nothings. My late housemate was a history buff who had a special interest in the Whigs. He joked that William Henry Harrison was our greatest president because, by dying of pneumonia one month into his term, he was not able to do anything terrible.

Not long after reading Frydl’s article, I read the news of Trump’s appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. He was being questioned about the endorsements he was getting from David Duke and white supremacists. Trump’s response was “I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” I realized how correct Frydl turned out to be. Donald Trump is a Know-Nothing. I occasionally use the hashtag #KnowNothingDonald when I see more examples of Trump’s Know-Nothing-ism. Some examples:

Trump appeared to connect Ted Cruz’s father with Lee Harvey Oswald. When confronted, he again deflected by saying he didn’t know anything about Cruz’s father.

At a rally, he told the audience that they would not be able to do anything once President Hillary Clinton begins appointing justices. He adds that “second amendment people” might find a way to do something about it, quickly followed with “I don’t know.”

When Clinton came down with a case of pneumonia, which is a lot more curable now than in Harrison’s time, Trump responded on Fox News. ”I hope she gets well soon. I don’t know what’s going on,” Trump said. “The coughing fit was a week ago — I assume that was pneumonia also.”

Today, Trump bashes immigrants, especially Mexicans, and Muslims. Ask him about global warming, and he replies it is a hoax. Just as the Know-Nothings did in the Nineteenth Century, Trump bashes immigrants, while not dealing with the serious issues that we confront in the Twenty-first Century. Let’s hope the story doesn’t have the same tragic ending.

Know Nothing politicians won’t take responsibility for the actions of the people they provoke. That for me, is the most disturbing part. They send coded messages to their supporters, called the Dog Whistle. I will write more about that later. Before that, I would like to address Trump and civil rights. Stay tuned.

See Kathleen Frydl’s article in the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-frydl/donald-trump-and-the-know_b_8314110.html

Also, 2016 Republicans: A “Know Nothing” party for the 21st Century by Mark DeLucia in Salon:

http://www.salon.com/2016/07/31/2016_republicans_a_know_nothing_party_for_the_21st_century/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

September 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Must be Fifty Ways/reasons I oppose electing Trump

Honestly, I have lost count of all the reasons why I don’t want to see Donald Trump elected as President of the United States. I can’t think of a worse candidate nominated by a major party in my lifetime. Last January, I was among the many who believed there was no way Trump would last through the early primaries. I expected a more mainstream Republican, such as Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, or Jeb Bush to eventually win the nomination. Surely Republicans will come to their senses, I thought. That didn’t happen. To me, that is the most troublesome part of this election; that many people actually think Donald Trump is a good idea. How bad would a Trump presidency be? Let me count the ways.

When Paul Simon performed at the Democratic convention, I think it is safe to say his contribution was among the lesser moments of that convention. He sang Bridge Over Troubled Water, which is a great song. In fact Simon and Garfunkel sang it at the Democratic convention in 1972. The trouble is that Garfunkel was the lead singer on that song, and, although Simon is not a bad singer, he certainly is not as good as Garfunkel. So, we connect that song with Garfunkel’s voice. Simon would have been better off singing one of the songs he wrote for his solo career. I started thinking of songs that would work. Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover comes to mind. With a few changes, it could become Fifty Ways to Leave Your Nominee, and he could sing it to the Republicans.

I don’t know if I can list 50 reasons to not elect Trump, but I thought I would give it a try. I would like to start with Trump’s candidacy against the “rigged system.”

Trump is warning his followers that he won’t win because the electoral process itself is rigged. It plays very well into his conspiracy theory thinking. The real forces in control will determine the outcome. They will orchestrate wide spread voter fraud that allows people to vote multiple times and stack the results against Trump. As a person who has worked as an election officer at my local polls over the years, I have one question for Trump. Has he even participated in the electoral process or paid much attention to how that process works? If he did, he would know that first time voters need to show some form of ID in federal elections. That has been happening since the passage of HAVA (Help America Vote Act) when George W. Bush was president. Every person needs to sign her or his name on the roster before receiving a ballot. The idea of someone coming in five or ten times on one day to vote is ludicrous. Even if someone wanted to register at different precincts under different names, she or he would have to get fake ID’s for each name before registering. And how much would that influence the final vote? Not enough to make it worth that much effort. In fact, if it was so easy, Trump could simply get his supporters to register multiple times to vote for him.

As President Obama has pointed out, each state runs its own elections and creates its own rules, as long as they don’t conflict with federal law. A number of states have enacted even stricter ID laws that are now being overturned by the federal courts for being too restrictive. Instead of ensuring fairness, they work to disenfranchise the minorities and the poor. If the system is rigged in anyone’s favor, it is in favor Trump’s supporters, who are upper income and more stable in their housing. They have no problem jumping through the hoops of restrictive Voter ID laws. The addresses on their driver licenses are more likely to match the addresses on the voting rosters.

So how can that system be rigged against Trump? Is he saying that election workers like me are rigging the system? OK, I admit it. I supported Hillary Clinton in the primary where I served as judge in my precinct. I didn’t say whom I was voting for to the other officers working with me, and they didn’t tell me who their candidates were either. To all of the people who came in to vote, none of us told them who our candidates were or whom to vote for. We couldn’t because it is against the law to campaign at a polling place. It looks like I didn’t have much influence anyway. While Clinton won Alameda County, Sanders beat her by over 100 votes in my precinct. Not surprisingly, our heavily Democratic precinct gave Trump only 3 votes.

Trump wants to send observers to polling locations to ensure the vote is fair. That’s fine and legal, just as long as they don’t interfere with the voting process or campaign while they are there. That means no signs, buttons, or shirts with the candidate’s name on them. They can’t interrupt election officials as they assist voters or intrude on voters’ privacy in the voting booths. Otherwise, there would be trouble. Would Trump followers cause trouble at the polls? Trump’s answer will probably be “I don’t know.” That brings me to a second reason why he should not be president. More to come.

September 20, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment