America has always had a vile underbelly. In every era, a portion of the populace has embraced this underbelly—approximately 33%. These citizens, 99% White, seem to be perpetually immature and bereft of public ethics.
Unfortunately, this underbelly of Trump-world denizens is embedded in America’s DNA.
It was undoubtedly prominent among White citizens who championed “Manifest Destiny.” Under this perverse mantra, White Americans and their governments inflicted generations of land theft and cultural and bodily genocide against Native families. Yes, we are a country with the blood of genocide on our hands.
The southern Confederacy was another searing example. Think of theft, injury, and death the Confederates inflicted upon millions of Black individuals and families before, during, and since.
A bullet to the head
As the Civil War (1861-65) neared an end, Lincoln extended an olive branch of “malice toward none; charity for all.” But alas, a bullet to the head shattered this brief and fragile hope.
Unrepenting and unreformed Confederates were soon being elected by their unrepenting and unreformed base to offices ranging from sheriff to Senator. These White policymakers (south and north) fashioned policies such as:
- Black Codes and Jim Crow
- Indentured servitude
- Overlooking lynching and dismembering
- Mob violence
- Voter suppression
- Medical experimentation
- Job discrimination
- Educational discrimination
- All-White police departments, juries, and judgeships
- Mass incarceration
- Racist media representations
- White-sanitized versions of history
- White-rule and White-privilege
A shift to the GOP
Until the mid-1960’s most of this racist populace found a home in the Democratic Party. Most of the 33% shifted over to the Republican Party after the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights movements, the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling (1954), anti-racist actions by Presidents Kennedy and LBJ, and the passage of Civil Rights (1964) and Voting Rights (1965) Acts.
In fact, around Goldwater’s presidential campaign (1964), conservative Republicans decided to entice and activate these citizens and garner their votes. Granted, Nixon (1969-74), Ford (1974-77), Reagan (1981-89), and George H. W. Bush (1989-93) were mostly skillful at harvesting their votes while keeping them at arm’s length from real power. However, they felt used.
Regrettably, it was George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (2001-2009) along with the Rove/Fox/Limbaugh/Gingrich juggernaut who opened the floodgates into key positions of power. This included governor’s mansions, district attorney’s offices, Congressional seats, cabinet posts, White House staff and interns, Supreme Court Justices, and presidents.
McCarthyism had excited the 33% during the 1950s, just as their ideological offspring still think Nixon should have never been forced to resign (1974). For decades they have sabotaged all efforts at ecological responsibility. They continue to populate the ranks of climate change deniers, medical science deniers, conspiracy theorists, and election fraud devotees.
Which brings us to today. What is the current incarnation of America’s vile underbelly?
The January 6 terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol was a cumulative Trump-job from top to bottom. Only he had the clout to incite it. In real-time, only he had the means to stop the lies, rebuke his follower’s gullibility, condemn their behavior, and order their arrest.
In short, Trump-world conservatives are today’s 33%.
Again, these citizens always have been and always will be a part of America’s DNA. Although they never seem to mature, they have a right to be here. At times, they may even entice Independents into their fold. Strategies featuring lies and conspiracy theories and the tactics of “Deny–Attack–Divert–Play the Victim. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat” (the Trump/Pence playbook), can be alluring to the gullible.
Therefore, the best strategy for moderate and liberal citizens and those few conservatives who are still honorable is to keep these citizens as far away as possible from positions of leadership, policymaking, and power.
Never again can we allow the 33% to take hold of the reins of power. It is inexcusable that a media-savvy, I-centered, power-hungry, man-child gangster-like Trump could have occupied the hallowed White House, let alone been given control of Air Force One, the bully pulpit, and our nation’s nuclear codes.