The Austin Chronicle

Page Two: When “Patriotism” Means Petulance

So much for draining the swamp

By Louis Black, May 26, 2017, Columns

Over one hundred days into the Trump administration, what has become painfully obvious is that so many of his strongest supporters' greatest satisfaction comes not from patriotism but pure schadenfreude.

Sure, they want to make the U.S. great again, bring back jobs, and defend borders. Those who wildly cheered his campaign speeches have had their enthusiasm dampened not a bit by not just his failure to fulfill campaign promises, but often his zest at doing exactly the opposite. After passionately promising to drain the swamp instead he's introduced all kinds of invasive noxious species, causing the swamp to grow even faster and denser, engulfing Washington.

There's been no effort to clean up government, limit the power of special interests, or curtail lobbying. Rather than serve the interests of all citizens, Trump has surrounded himself with family and some of the wealthiest and most partisan nonpoliticians, many of whom earned their wealth in the private sector skirting the very laws they are now supposed to protect and enforce. Yet rather than find this dismaying, his loyalists, intoxicated with pleasure, cheer on his leadership.

It turns out that more important than Trump winning was Clinton and the Democrats losing. Actual governing and legislating is inconsequential compared to the pleasures of watching liberals having their faces rubbed in the mess on the floor. This is not about the best interests of the country, it is about reveling in the Democrats' powerlessness and ever more pained frustration at his actions.

As Americans happily hate and blame other Americans, we should remember that after a half-century of enforced coexistence it took less than a decade for the different factions in Yugoslavia to engage in genocide against each other.

Trump's legislative agenda is aimed at destroying the social safety net, eradicating environmental protections, destroying public education, and underfunding health care. Despite loudly expressed concerns over income disparity and a disappearing middle class, many of those who voted for him cheer these efforts to further enrich the richest at the expense of most Americans.

Sadly, it seems to many of us narrow-focused, snowflake libtards that these supporters are loving political moves that will do genuine and long-lasting harm to them and their families.

Amidst this glee, rage, and fury, long-stated conservative ideological goals have become far less important than humiliating the left.

Witness the "smaller government, less regulation" right insisting that anti-illegal immigrant legislation requiring people to carry IDs and proof of citizenship is just all right. Evidently it is okay to limit freedoms when dealing with the at best overly exaggerated and at worst largely fictional problems of an illegal-immigrant crime wave and armies of terrorists crossing the border.

Insisting that only those who have committed crimes have anything to fear, many must surely know better. That fear is not rational. Official legislated discrimination is never very focused. It is unavoidable that many championing these laws don't really believe only those who are criminals will be harassed, but rather they are not-so-secretly thrilled that those they don't consider real Americans – illegal immigrants, Hispanics, Muslims, foreigners – are forced to live in fear.

There is precious little evidence of voter fraud. But in response to an infinitesimal amount of proven fraud cases, the right wing insists that stricter voter ID laws are justified. What is the problem, some demand; these easily obtained IDs just protect the process. Loving voter suppression, they ignore the post-civil rights campaigns of violence and intimidation, poll taxes and educational requirements directly aimed at denying the vote to Black citizens.

The all too glib, ever-repeated right wing talking point is that liberals just can't stand to face history, being in denial that the Democrats were the pro-slavery and later KKK party. Civil rights legislation, they assert, ended discrimination. Well, except for that by the Democrats who keep the poor and minorities disenfranchised in order to serve their drive toward power.

Evidently it is somehow "facing history" to ignore the profound and destructive effects of legally mandated segregation. These laws were widespread and popularly supported by the white community (yes, at the time all Democrats, if we have to go there).

Horrifyingly, a half century after segregation ended, the aggressive and deliberate disenfranchisement of the elderly, minorities, and the poor is again in full swing.

Those who denounce Big Brother want to see abortion banned; they want to see marriage limited in the most fundamental way; they want gender issues that they may find upsetting but that have no social impact to be legislated against.

The indignation from the right a few weeks ago over talk show host Stephen Colbert's Trump-Putin "cock holster" joke, admittedly offensive to many, comes from folks who for the most part are not championing gay rights. In the same way, whenever affirmative action standards are upheld by the courts, there is a wave of published letters to editors from those lamenting the trashing of Martin Luther King's dream, though one suspects few of the writers are aggressive civil rights advocates.

The greatest irony, the one so staggering to consider, is that the conservative right, deriding judicial activism, insists on a more conservative bench, with only judges who are passionate believers in original intent being appointed. Wearing blinders, this requires ignoring the actual deepest fears of the Founding Fathers, who more than anything carefully designed the Constitution to prevent the government becoming dominated by one political philosophy. With a unity rarely shown, they were so concerned with avoiding the very situation so many who support Trump insist is the true triumph of American greatness.

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