The writer Glenn Greenwald, who ruthlessly analyzes American politics as he pinpoints its disappointments and foibles, probably has the best take so far on the current and changing political milieu in the world, and it could apply to the current conservative moment in Oklahoma as well.
— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) July 28, 2016
Greenwald, who has written for Salon and other publications and sites and helped found Intercept, said in a recent interview with Slate that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a dangerous politician but the response to his threat and support have been somewhat misconstrued. In the interview, Greenwald notes:
Do you think the people voting for Donald Trump because they feel their economic future has been destroyed, or because they are racist, or because they feel fear of immigrants and hate the U.S. elite structure and want Trump to go and blow it up, give the slightest s—about Ukraine, that Trump is some kind of agent of Putin? They don’t! Just like the Brexit supporters.
The interview, which I linked to above, is wide-ranging and nuanced. Greenwald devotes a lot of his words to the recent Democratic National Convention email hack release by Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange, but I want to focus on the above quote because I think it can be applied here in Oklahoma as well.
Too often, the national media and even progressives think that simply calling out someone as a racist, sexist or liar will have some type of impact on changing people’s minds or on an election. There have been some cases, usually involving scandal, where that has been the case, but, as Greenwald notes, Trump supporters just don’t care about the larger ramifications of his presidency. They just want to “blow it up” in the figurative sense and see what happens.
I don’t think it’s a far leap to apply that to the Republican ascendancy in Oklahoma, and the manner in which it has engaged in reckless fiscal management of the state’s finances by the relentless cutting of funding for education, health programs and social services. They, too, just wanted to “blow it up” in terms of cutting taxes for rich people while cutting funding to schools. We can call it out, but nothing gets done until the extremism becomes apparent. That’s fairly radical, isn’t it? Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, is no Donald Trump, but I think it’s important to point out she’s a diehard supporter.
All this sounds pessimistic, but the reality is that—and I do this myself, of course—the recording and reporting of the latest Republican egregious event or moment with the normal nomenclature, such as “racist” or “people voting against their financial interests” is not changing what we might call the conservative mindset. Trump even may well be changing the very way we even think about presidential campaigns in the future.
Progressives should agree on this point, however:
Even if you dislike Hillary, this isn’t the year to back a third-party candidate https://t.co/7vFc44RYKo
— Salon (@Salon) July 31, 2016
What’s needed is not name calling or the usual language. What’s needed is very specific proposals that will benefit people who think their “economic future has been destroyed.” On the national level, that can happen with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton crafting most, if not all, of Bernie Sanders’ proposals into specific and viable legislative proposals this election season and then taking them to the people.
Just calling Trump a liar, which he consistently proves, probably isn’t going to cut it this election season. His supporters, such as Fallin, simply don’t care or qualify it with some type of illogical interpretation, such as he didn’t mean that statement in that particular way or that’s just the way he talks.
We all know we cannot reason with someone unreasonable, but we all can take a deep breath and try to figure out why a specific individual has come to take certain positions and offer positive solutions.
On the local level, it means, well, working locally on the campaigns of progressives or as a volunteer performing community service or serving on nonprofit boards, engaging with people who want to “blow it up” in general terms and figuring out why they want to do so. It means getting involved even if it’s just one thing.
On the state level here, Republicans are starting to feel the heat when it comes to teacher salaries and funding for schools because of how extreme the situation has become. There were enough Democrats and media outlets calling Republicans out on their fiscal irresponsibility with the standard terms and frames, but it took more teachers as a coalition running for office and a statewide petition drive to really shake things up.
Dedicated, consistent progressive action, whatever that might entail for any specific individual, is the answer right now, not the usual language about the GOP and the conservative movement. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” The going is definitely weird this election season.