Donald Trump has added new levels of sleaze and maniacal White Know-Nothingism to the U.S. electoral farce – which makes him a very useful man.
Republicans can blame Trump for pulling the bar of their party’s racial discourse down to sewer levels. But Trump is even more useful to liberals and Democrats of all kinds.
He is the guy who makes the other evils appear lesser. Democrats have surely found their “trump” card in The Donald, whose singular rhetorical non-flourishes make Democrats look MLK-like in comparison.
Electoral politics in the United States is comparison-shopping at its most pointless, with Wall Street vetting the choices offered by both parties. One of them must be The White Man’s Party.
When the Republican Party emerged in the decade before the Civil War, the Democrats made sure to label it the “Black” party, even though Abraham Lincoln and many of his colleagues would have preferred that free Blacks be deported.
The Democrats retained their status as the White Man’s Party in the South through the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal years until 1948, when South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond briefly bolted the party to protest Northern members pushing a civil rights plank in the platform.
Dixiecrats rebelled again in 1964, opting for Goldwater Republicanism. Richard Nixon sealed the deal in the 1968 election with his “Southern strategy,” effectively transferring the White Man’s Party brand to the Republicans.
Looking for protection
There is no Black people’s party. There have been some brief efforts at independent Black electoral politics, but they have all become imprisoned in the bifurcated muck of the Democratic Party vs. The White Man’s (Republican) Party – with Wall Street reigning over both.
The subtext of the Black electoral conversation, since the founding of the Republic, has always been about protection: which party is more willing to protect Black people from the worst excesses of the most aggressive White supremacists?
Fear of Republicans holds Black people captive to the Democratic Party, not high ideals or a shared worldview or a Democratic track record of service to the group that makes up about a quarter of its members. It all boils down to fear of the “crackers” that gather under the Republican brand.
A few benefit
A small Black elite actually derives some benefits from ties to the Democratic Party: patronage jobs, contracts, discretionary grants, entrée to corporate boardrooms, etc. They are afraid of losing their precarious privileges, and terrified of the instability that might result if the masses of poor Black people, especially the youth, lost their fear.
The Black elite cling to the Democratic Party like a lifeboat. But that ship is not, and cannot possibly be, bound for freedom.
Black Democrats know this, but they have signed on with Captain Clinton, or whomever the Party assigns, in dread of Donald Trump and the Republican pirates. The same thing will happen, with different captains, the next election cycle.
Maintenance of the Democratic Party amounts to preservation of the racially bifurcated Wall Street duopoly in perpetuity – and to perpetual fear. We must build a mass Black movement that is not just independent of the two corporate parties, but opposed to them.
Contact Glen Ford at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.