Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Trump, Pence, and the GOP

Gage Skidmore of Flickr  Some rights reserved
The second presidential debate has come and gone, and the multi-season television horror event that is our election cycle continues to play out in soul-crushingly slow fashion in front of not just our nation's audience, but the audience of the world.

Our international reputation has already been stained. Even if Trump isn't elected, he will have been only a hair's breadth from it, and what does that say about the American people and the stability of their government that they could come so close to electing a militant, sociopath demagogue to one of the most powerful political positions in the country.

What started as a chuckle--ha, ha, Trump will NEVER get the nomination, but it'll be fun to watch him bumblefuck around playing politician like a drunk, Cheeto-coated toddler--has become a waking nightmare and left many moderate and left-leaning folks wringing their hands and wondering how on Earth this could happen.

I remember very early on saying to some of my friends, "I know Trump's fuckery is funny, but it's honestly a little scary, too. Like, if the nation was stupid enough to elect George W. Bush--twice--it's something to worry about." And I mean, the longer he talked, and the fouler the things dumping from his face hole seemed, the easier it was to sigh and say, "Oh, thank God. No way he rebounds from that." But he did. Again, and again, and again. He was like those old inflatable toys for toddlers--Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down.

The tape of Donald Trump admitting to and supporting sexual assault may be the thing that finally ensures he doesn't win the presidency, but the vehement support he's gotten from certain factions of this country means that there will likely come another, possibly worse if simply because they'll be more polished and have more self-awareness to avoid some of Trump's more fatal fuck ups. After all, a lot of Republicans have mentioned wanting Trump to drop out and Mike Pence to take over as the head of the ticket. That would not be better.

For one thing: while Trump may be a venomous, aspiring tyrant, a white nationalist, and a deeply malignant tumor on the anus of this country, he's also a bloviating idiot who considers himself much more strategic and clever than he actually is. He's impulsive, thin-skinned, and prone to throwing tantrums--like he did in the second debate when he began attacking moderators for trying to keep him confined to his time. And while that's a terrible thing for a leader to be on it's own, Pence took all of the hateful, awful things that we have actual video and written proof of Trump saying and bald-faced lied to the American people about him ever having said it. He legitimately looked directly into the camera and said, "That's not true, he never said that," when everyone--EVERYONE--knows he has and there's widespread and obvious proof.

When Trump lies, it's a sweaty desperate, stammering thing. When Pence lies, it's as smooth and cool as an ice cube.

Pence's ability to flat out lie--not massage facts, not throw around faulty data, but LIE--is terrifying to consider. Pence has legitimately used his power as governor to kick a democratically elected official out of their office in favor of being replaced by someone that he and his subordinates got to choose*. Add that into the mix with his ability to unashamedly, flat out lie, and his support of the torture* of gay kids until they want to kill themselves or deny who they are--which is what conversion therapy* is--and you have a deeply unsettling picture of a Pence presidency.

We didn't arrive at this place by accident either. The fragility of the white male ego has been something people in power have used to keep black folks subjugated for centuries, but the Republican Party started using it with gusto in the 50's when Democrats started winning black folks and pushing for civil rights and desegregation.* Republicans saw unrest in the south that never fully got healed post-Civil War, and stoked that racism, government, and ignorance. Nixon intentionally stoked racism against black folks in the south to win the presidency,* and Reagan intentionally buried his racism in "conservative" sounding policies like "cutting taxes" and "states' rights."* The GOP acting like the horrible things Trump says are him being a loose canon and not the GOP's platform made into saggy flesh incarnate is hilarious and astoundingly disingenuous.

Even today, racism is an integral part of the GOP's platform. They pass laws like voter ID laws that far and away impact people of color.* They gerrymander districts to keep areas with heavy democratic populations and high amounts of people of color lumped together,* which in doing so ensures that Republicans have an all but indefeatable lead. It's no wonder that someone like Trump was able to grab the reigns of this shit chariot and ride that fucker until the wheels come flying off.

Trump has even been encouraging people to poll watch and try to run off people that they suspect of "committing voter fraud." To these scared and riled up white folks, that's more coded "dog whistle" talk for brown folks. In fact, voter fraud is essentially not a thing at all.*

As of this writing, Trump's shot at the presidency looks very bleak, but as I mentioned on Twitter earlier, I'm worried about the Jack that we can't put back in the box. There's a small, extremely vocal minority of repugnant white nationalists, men's rights activists, and ignorant, frightened white people that have led to some horrifying decisions in the past. And even they're a swiftly vanishing minority, the amplifying power of the internet makes them much more easily heard than would otherwise be the case. And I'm both worried what happens when they don't get their way, and what lessons the GOP will take away from this.

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Washington Post: "How Gov. Mike Pence worked to undermine the will of Indiana’s voters" - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/07/15/how-mike-pence-tried-to-undermine-the-will-of-indianas-voters/

The Guardian: "'Praying the gay away': Trauma survivors crusade to ban conversion therapy" - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/11/survivors-crusade-conversion-therapy-ban-pray-gay-away

Politifact: "True: Mike Pence advocated for 'conversion therapy'" - http://www.politifact.com/california/statements/2016/jul/28/gavin-newsom/true-mike-pence-advocated-conversion-therapy/

New Republic: "How the Southern Strategy Made Donald Trump Possible" - https://newrepublic.com/article/130039/southern-strategy-made-donald-trump-possible

Salon: "The racism at the heart of the Reagan presidency" - http://www.salon.com/2014/01/11/the_racism_at_the_heart_of_the_reagan_presidency/

Washington Post: "New evidence that voter ID laws ‘skew democracy’ in favor of white Republicans" - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/04/new-evidence-that-voter-id-laws-skew-democracy-in-favor-of-white-republicans/

NBC News: "Study Finds No Evidence of Widespread Voter Fraud" - http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/study-finds-no-evidence-widespread-voter-fraud-n637776