2016 election, Courtland Milloy, David J. Rothkopf, Donald Trump, establishment, Im-Politic, Mainstream Media, middle class, Obama, Occupy Wall Street, One Percent, racism, The Washington Post, working class
It’s more than a little strange to praise an establishment newspaper column that all but calls Donald Trump a racist. And yet the bar for simple sanity has sunk abysmally low for opinion journalists (who aren’t supposed to be objective – like their increasingly unprofessional counterparts in hard news). So it’s more than appropriate to tout the virtues of Washington Post pundit Courtland Milloy’s October 11 piece on charges that if the Republican presidential nominee loses the presidency, African-Americans and other minorities could face an “apocalypse.”
Milloy’s article contains the by-now standard accusation that Trump’s rhetoric has been “racist” (as well as “misogynist”). But he departs insightfully from the emerging conventional wisdom that many of Trump’s backers are such vicious bigots that they will respond to defeat at the polls by going on a violent rampage that targets non-whites of all kinds. In addition to disputing the claims that all or most or lots or too many of Trump’s supporters are racists, Milloy points to a lesson he argues African-Americans have learned about even seemingly hostile whites over the…centuries:
“[F]or those who are racists, their views may not lead to threatening actions. When blacks and whites work on jobs where cooperation is a matter of life and death — such as in the military or on a construction site — people, no matter their beliefs, tend to find a way to get along.”
Along the way, he lampoons contentions that Trump’s campaign is responsible for a significant rise in racism throughout American society.
Even more important, Milloy writes that even many Trump critics are missing “the villain that lurks in the shadows” for both minorities and whites in the middle and working classes, and in the ranks of the poor: “the extremely rich who own the politicians, manipulate Wall Street and exploit cheap labor worldwide at the expense of America’s working class.”
If that last phrase sounds familiar, it should. It revealingly mirrors Trump’s own latest line:
“For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind. Our campaign represents a true existential threat like they haven’t seen before,” Trump said.
“It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”
As Milloy observes (approvingly), it also sounds a lot like what we’ve heard from the left wing of American liberalism since the “Occupy Wall Street” movement began (and of course before). In addition, this phenomenon has been the subject of extensive recent study – e.g., in a 2009 book titled Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They are Making. And the author in this case is David J. Rothkopf, a quintessential establishmentarian who currently edits FOREIGN POLICY magazine.
Curiously, though, when these words come from Trump’s mouth, they’re simply ridiculed (as in this speech from President Obama last week), or they’re ascribed to historic anti-Semitism (as in this October 13 post).
Milloy offers vastly superior advice: urging black and white working-class people [to] come together and stop falling for these political con games….” Clearly, such cooperation is impossible to envision in the near-term future. Is it too much to hope that, by the 2020 campaign cycle, someone who deserves the adjective “presidential” might take on the challenge?