In his closing speech to South Carolina voters, Donald Trump delivered a chilling paean to mass slaughter:
Trump repeated – favorably – an apparent myth about how General John Pershing summarily executed dozens of Muslim prisoners in the Philippines with tainted ammunition during a guerrilla war against the occupying United States. “He took fifty bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood,” Trump said. “And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the fifty people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the fiftieth person he said ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem, okay?”
And the crowd cheered.
At Bernie Sanders’ Iowa caucus night rally, his supporters broke into an ugly chant of “she’s a liar” as Hillary Clinton spoke.
Tectonic forces are at work in 2016 that go beyond the minutiae of the daily campaign grind, beyond millennials and social media, beyond stale media narratives, talking heads and horse race entertainment.
Blind waves of anger are sweeping up the unsuspecting and the well-meaning. Dedicated progressives and young voters who have sincere reasons to support Bernie Sanders (we share their values) are caught up in something much darker and more sinister.
Between Trump’s torture-loving armies and Bernie’s brigades of misogynistic trolls, the 2016 electorate feels more like a boiling, churning mob than a political movement, a rage-a-thon more than a revolution.
Stephen Marche writes about Trump and Sanders:
The same specter of angry white people haunts Sanders’s rally, the same sense of longing for a country that was, the country that has been taken away.
Reggie Fullwood adds:
Trump’s supporters are also frustrated white men that want to “take our country back.” Which is hilarious to me. Every time I see one of those bumper stickers, my racist radar goes up. Take our country back from who?
The 2016 campaign has shed any patina of civility, devolving into a grotesque mission to destroy the “evil Hillary” (endless cries of “liar, liar”) and what bigots perceive as “dark-skinned interlopers” (immigrants and refugees).
The voters driving two of the more remarkable movements of this election cycle — for Donald J. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders — share striking similarities. Both groups are heavily white, more male than female, and both are fueled partly by people who, in interviews, express distrust of their parties and the other candidates, especially Hillary Clinton.
We are witnessing a rebellion from the core of the patriarchy and the target is the woman who is inching closer to the presidency than any other in history.
The NY Times quotes a 66-year-old Ohio man:
“She’s talking to minorities now, not really to white people, and that’s a mistake. She’s talking a lot about continuing Obama’s policies. I just don’t necessarily agree with all of the liberal ideas of Obama. I know a lot of guys who are open to Trump.”
The election of Barack Obama was a seminal moment in a demographic shift that is changing the face (and color) of America. The edifice of dominance has begun to crumble and the 2016 ballot box is where the firewall against the inevitable is being erected:
In less than 30 years, whites will no longer be the racial majority in the United States. Hispanics, African Americans and Asians – the country’s three largest minority groups – will outnumber whites.
While each state’s demographics are changing at different paces and are being driven by different racial or ethnic groups, one trend is unmistakable: Non-Hispanic white voters are a shrinking share of the electorate.
Rise and rage, ban the Muslims, deport the immigrants, build a wall, suppress voters, destroy the woman. Macro forces are trumping micro events. This is not an indictment of any individual. It is an acknowledgement of reality.
The numbers are undeniable: Hillary Clinton is far ahead among non-whites, both young and old. She leads among LGBT voters. Framing the race as a grassroots uprising for Bernie, as a youth movement, misses the central point: 2016 is a primal scream of heterosexual white males who see their position at society’s vertex in jeopardy.
That’s not to say that Trump or Sanders have monolithic support, that their supporters share the same beliefs, or that they are ideologically similar in any way, but that the driving force powering their campaigns is unmistakably white, straight and male. And those men are leading the furious charge to crush Hillary’s candidacy.
The mission to metaphorically “kill” Hillary – note the Sanders fan who posted a fake Hillary obituary – is larger than the campaigns and the media, who are struggling to comprehend the riptides moving the electorate.
We don’t know how this ends. But we know that this is the great showdown with Hillary that her detractors have been anticipating for more than three decades. Even more so than Obama, Hillary has become the ultimate target of the wrath of those who feel a loss of control in their lives.
There is not a scintilla of hard evidence that Hillary has lied, that she is corrupt. It is all innuendo and insinuation. But that hasn’t stemmed an epic flood of smears and distortions designed to portray her as the world’s worst human.
The deep shame of 2016 is that Bernie Sanders, who should be the light to Trump’s darkness, who could reject the wholesale assault on Hillary Clinton’s character, surfs the wave instead of opposing it. His progressive supporters, our ideological kin, are increasingly programmed by his relentless and repetitive Wall Street dog whistle to rage against Hillary with no consideration for truth or consequences.
The media are complicit:
You can’t stop a wild mob that wants to “burn the witch,” a mob that wants to dehumanize and degrade a woman, that wants to strip her of her dignity. It’s an impulse as old as humanity. And it’s always a monstrous thing to behold.
We will see if the inexorable transformation of the American populace will endure a dangerous setback with a President Trump. Democrats must do everything in their power to prevent that outcome.
In that grave context, demolishing the public image of a leading Democratic candidate is unimaginably reckless.