Trump’s Support for Right-Wing Protests Just Got More Ugly and Dangerous
Great column today by Greg Sargent at the Washington Post.
In siding with the claim that democratically elected governors are tyrannically oppressing their constituents with these restrictions, Trump is speaking to a small minority of Americans. But this jarring juxtaposition will not disturb Trump. That’s because it’s an important feature of what Trump is really up to here.
Trump’s assertion that people’s lives were “taken away” by these governors could theoretically be just a figure of speech. But, given that Trump has repeatedly called on people to “LIBERATE” states from such governors, the phrase doubles down on the idea that this “taking” was an illegitimate usurpation.
That’s entirely in keeping with the spirit of what has been widely expressed at these protests:
In Washington state, organizers compared their protest to the “shot heard around the world” before the Revolutionary War.
Also in that state, one GOP legislator claimed an ongoing “rebellion” against Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, while hinting that if such restrictions continued, “we’ll see what a revolution looks like.”
In Denver, protesters carried signs saying things such as “Dangerous freedom over gov’t tyranny.”
In Michigan, signs have blared messages that include “Live free or die” and “Heil Whitmer,” a reference to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, even as some protesters toted rifles.
Underlying Trump’s suggestion that their rule is illegitimate is a kind of cross between the concepts of herrenvolk democracy and minority rule, or what you might call “counter-majoritarian populism.”
It’s the idea that the only people who constitute the true essence and makeup of the political community are Trump’s people, a standard right-wing populist trope Trump has at times expressed explicitly, but in this case, this is so even as they constitute an electoral minority.
This, too, has hidden similarities with the tea party. As Adam Serwer shows, you can draw a line from the tea party’s rage over the “takers” who illegitimately scooped up the spoils of redistributive policies instituted by leaders they elected — rendering their political compact an illegitimately corrupt bargain — straight down to Trump’s present treatment of the opposition and their voters as illegitimate and nonexistent.
In some cases, the parallels to this moment are deeply troubling. The New York Times reports that in Michigan, coronavirus is “concentrated in heavily black and Democratic Detroit,” even as the protesters demanding relaxed social distancing are “nearly all-white” and are “hoisting Trump signs and Confederate battle flags.”
I’ll go further with it.
When certain conservatives (especially those who call themselves “constitutionalists”) lose elections, and then blame their loss on “voter fraud,” saying people who shouldn’t have voted actually voted, they aren’t just trying to mitigate their defeat.
They’re delegitimizing the people who voted against them.
That’s why all of their voter suppression methods - whether it’s photo ID laws, purging voter rolls, opposing early voting or voting by mail - are aimed at suppressing the vote of those very people.
And it goes beyond even that.
These certain conservatives believe that they are the only true “real Americans,” even if they lose.
They believe that they are fully in line with the original intent of the framers of the constitution (who, you will remember, initially limited the vote to white male property owners over the age of 21).
Even if they lose.
Because everyone else is a “taker,” and not a “producer.”
They are fundamentally anti-democratic at their core.
And of course, these are the same people who denounce democracy as “mob rule,” and say that “we’re not a democracy, we’re a republic.”
Read the article here.