All the President's Men --- AGAIN
(A History Lesson)
August 21, 2018 may be the beginning of the end for Donald Trump’s presidency, but don’t bet on it, of course. Nonetheless, Paul Manafort’s 8 guilty verdict convictions and Michael Cohen’s claim that Trump “directed” him to pay off TWO women to influence the outcome of the 2016 election certainly look like the tip of a very dangerous iceberg. It is immaterial if the strategy was successful or not (we can never know what number of voters may have not voted for Trump or simply did not vote at all) --- the criminal conspiracy that the candidate (now President) engaged in violates campaign finance laws.
We are hearing (everywhere but on Fox News, of course) this parallels the Watergate Scandal of 1972-1974 and, certainly, there are striking parallels. The President’s lawyer (John Dean/Nixon, Michael Cohen/Trump) has tossed the first damning stone in the pond of illegality and corruption that the President has/had been treading water in. With Cohen’s admission yesterday, under oath and in court, we have the first clear evidence of Trump’s attempt to fix the 2016 election. What Robert Mueller may be able to expose --- with Michael Flynn (guilty), George Papadopoulos (guilty), Michael Cohen (guilty), and Don McGahn (the President’s counsel) already on the books regarding Trump and Russia --- could lead to charge after charge exposing Trump’s clear attempts to fix the 2016 election. And that’s where the strongest parallel to Watergate exists.
Most folks associate Watergate with the notion of “cover-up” and fail to recognize that the break-in at the Democratic headquarters in June, 1972 was only one of many actions taken by the Nixon Committee to Re-Elect the President (aptly known as CREEP) designed to insure that Nixon would run against the weakest possible Democrat in the 1972 election, thereby fixing the 1972 election. And that’s exactly what they got in McGovern. Edwin Muskie, the front-running Democratic candidate, was disposed of early on as a result of the bogus “Canuck letter” (a document produced by Nixon staffers that accused Muskie of prejudice against Canadian-Americans just before the New Hampshire primary --- where there are a significant number of French-Canadian/American voters --- reducing the candidate to tears on national television as he denied the charges!!) Let’s remember this original sin for Nixon and Trump: we are talking about tampering with the Electoral process and actively working to fix a Presidential election.
Let’s also clarify another point that the largely fact-averse and historically ignorant Trump “base” likes to harp on about the Democrats. A very popular chorus from the Trump faithful clings to the notion that the Democrats have, historically, been the party of segregation and the Ku Klux Klan. While this is true --- from 1865 to 1968 --- it fails to recognize that those same Democrats (primarily from the South & rural America) left the Democratic Party to become Republicans in 1968 --- voting for Richard Nixon or George Wallace (the racist former governor of Alabama). The “Southern Strategy” for Republicans began as opposition to the Civil Rights movement beginning in the 1950’s. Simply put:
In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to a Republican Party electoral strategy to increase political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African Americans.
Sound familiar? While Trump, of course, denies being “racist” it is difficult to ignore the evidence. Lee Atwater, a Republican strategist (and former senior consultant for Paul Manafort’s D.C. consulting firm) described the Republican Party’s “Southern Strategy” in a 1981 interview with Alexander P. Lamis:
Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger." (wiki -- boldface, mine))
“Abstract” and “coded” messages are Trump’s stock in trade and consistently “rile up” his base. In December, 2017, Vox reported that a Washington Post survey of millennials reinforced a number of previous surveys (https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/12/15/16781222/trump-racism-economic-anxiety-study). In short their story noted:
Even when controlling for partisanship, ideology, region and a host of other factors, white millennials fit Michael Tesler’s analysis. As he put it, economic anxiety isn’t driving racial resentment; rather, racial resentment is driving economic anxiety. We found, as he has in a larger population, that racial resentment is the biggest predictor of white vulnerability among white millennials. Economic variables like education, income and employment made a negligible difference. (Vox, German Lopez, December 15, 2017)
So, the “Southern Strategy” is alive and well and it is Republican, period. Those who support Confederate statues remaining “as is,” those who believe whites are “victims” and minorities are given a “free ride” (particularly by Democratic administrations), those who oppose “affirmative action” and “voting rights,” and those who oppose sensible immigration policies are Trump’s “base” and are the products of the Republican party’s “Southern strategy” --- and clearly represents the ideological foundation of the 1865-1968 Democratic Party, now morphed into the right wing Republicans.
“History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes” (Mark Twain) We don’t have to look far to see the rhymes that compose the Donald Trump campaign and his presidency: election fixing and racist code words exemplify the legacy of Richard Nixon’s corrupt presidency and may well bring down the current administration. If nothing else, it would behoove citizens to understand, clearly, the history behind what’s transpiring and see it as a logical outcome of a long historical arc.