A conversation with my friend Keith

Part of being a librarian is that you talk. You talk a lot. Much like bartenders and taxi cab drivers, people unburden themselves to you. You become part priest, part counselor, part sounding board.

One of my patrons is a very good man named Keith. I met him years ago when he would come in every weekend and ask how President Obama was doing in the Gallup polling. For several weeks I would perform this task, trying to figure out if he was happy or saddened by his sub-50% numbers. I don’t quite remember how we outed each other, but we discovered that we were kindred souls in our admiration for this president, and have been fast friends since.

He came into the library this week, and as usual, he sat down at the reference desk and we began our kaffeeklatsch, sans the coffee. Our conversations range widely, but politics are always the center of them.

Of course, we were over the moon over the wonderful week we and the President had with ACA and marriage equality. And then the conversation turned to that buffoon, Donald Trump.

“I can’t believe that Trump is doing so well in the polls,” he said.

“I can. He’s the only GOP candidate who’s not hiding his racism. He’s speaking to the GOP program.”

“Oh, now, you don’t really believe that GOP leaders are racist, do you?”

“Of course I do. Look at their utterances.”

“But the intelligentsia is horrified at what Trump is doing.”

“Look Keith, here’s the thing: in their heart of hearts, the ‘smart people’ might be aghast at the naked racism of the base. But, since Nixon, they made the calculation that kowtowing to that racism was the only way they could even hope to stand against the Democrats. And now, after 50 years, they have nothing else. No Republican can win a primary without pandering to that racism. And Democrats won’t let the survivor run away from what he had to do to secure the nomination.”

“They created a monster which is eating them.”

“And I feel no sympathy for them.”

I feel no sympathy for them.

As a believer in the better angels of our nature, I’m sure there are at least a few among the GOP leadership who do look aghast upon Trump’s unabashed racism. Rick fucking Perry said that Trump’s views on immigrants don’t reflect the GOP. And when I read that quote, I wanted to laugh sardonically. Trump’s views may not reflect those of the few remaining sane Republicans. But they do reflect those of the base, of the brownshirts who turn out to vote in primaries and caucuses. And woe betide any GOP hopeful who crosses those SA goons.

“Sane” Republicans may exist,  but they’re as influential as Hobbits. They’ve faded away as the gods of old. They no longer influence the party. Trump is surging because he speaks to that base, that rabid, intolerant, racist, absolutely inhumane and fucked up base.

Keith, for giggles, listens to right wing radio, to see what the enemy is thinking. He was listening to both Sean Hannity and Michael Medved, and both gentlemen were trying to fight back against Trump’s nativism. However, their callers were having none of it, all of them praising the Orange Combover for “telling it like it is.” That’s the GOP voter. That’s the voter which the “intelligentsia” groomed. Much like the German reactionaries in the Weimar Republic with the Nazis, the power brokers of the GOP thought they could control the lumpen proletariat, using their votes to ride to power and then do what they wanted. But the proles developed their own culture, and felt their power. Every election cycle has made them more emboldened, especially as Barack Obama formed a coalition which made them irrelevant in presidential politics. That powerlessness, that inability to oust the Usurper made them extract more pounds of flesh from their “leaders”. Speaker John Boehner just recently made noises about brining his teabagger backbenchers into line; he had to abandon such efforts, as he didn’t have the support. The Beast slouches towards Bethlehem, and it’s fucking hungry.

Over 60% of poll respondents approve of the ACA ruling. 59% approve of the gay marriage ruling. The “smart” people think this means both issues are off the 2016 agenda. Of course they’re not. Because to win the nomination, Republicans will have to vow to overturn both decisions. And the Democratic nominee won’t let the survivor of the GOP Hunger Games tack back, ignoring all the fuckery to which he had to swear featly to win the poisoned chalice.

In other essays I’ve said that Barack Obama’s true secret agenda was to neuter this iteration of the GOP as a political force. This June has seen the groundwork bear fruit. As a realist, I’m not completely sanguine. But I don’t see a way that the GOP squares this circle. It rode the tiger to some victories. Now the tiger is hungry.



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