Ronald Reagan is to Philadelphia, Mississippi as Donald Trump is to Waco, Texas. Sound peculiar? Read on and it won’t.
Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign with a rally in Philadelphia, Mississippi which is the approximate location of the murder of three freedom riders during the height of the civil rights voter registration drives in the mid-1960s. Racists look at it as “scared ground”. Reagan was sending a not-so-subtle dog whistle to them. He needed their support at the ballot box.
This past weekend Trump held a rally in Waco, Texas which the extreme right regards as hollowed ground because it was the site of the federal government enforcing law. In the process several law breakers who defied repeated and sustained government pleas and warnings died. With only a bit of poetic license, it could be viewed as that era’s 1/6. The rally came at a time when the walls seem to be about to close in on Trump and was hailed as the kickoff rally of his 2024 campaign.
The common denominator is the Republicans’ appeal to our worst angels and a sustained unite the white effort. (With one word change – and I’ll argue in this case the words are synonyms -wasn’t that the theme of Charlottesville when, according to Trump there were good people on both sides?) Although they will take any votes, the Republicans of the last 60+ years concentrate their efforts on white voters who they can convince that they are disadvantaged and endangered. The exploitation of the fear of the “other” is another common denominator. Why do you think replacement theory is so popular among the Trump voters.
In Reagan’s era the “other” was almost exclusively the Blacks. Back then (and it wasn’t that long ago) homosexuals were almost universally feared, transgender people were almost unheard of and other minorities, both religious and ethnic, were much less prominent on the American scene. 9/11 was largely exploited to make anyone actually or appearing to be Middle Eastern the other. Remember it was Trump who called COVID the, “Kung flu”. That wasn’t by accident. All this is aimed at Trump’s target base of temporarily (only they don’t realize that aspect of his strategy) useful idiots: the less well educated whites. (“We love the less well educated.”)
These moves are all aligned with what I have long identified as one of the three pillars holding up today’s GOP: racism/bigotry. Is it just me or does it seem that the more things change; the more they remain the same? Or maybe get worse.
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