This entry excerpts a few parts of Adam Serwer's extended, outstanding piece in The Atlantic (link embedded): The Nationalist's Delusion. I learned of it from the inestimable Charlie Pierce in this piece.
Here are some excerpts (without the embedded links):
One measure of the allure of Trump's white identity politics is the extent to which it has overridden other concerns as his administration has faltered. The president’s supporters have stood by him even as he has evinced every quality they described as a deal breaker under Obama.
Conservatives attacked Obama's lack of faith; Trump is a thrice-married libertine who has never asked God for forgiveness. They accused Obama of being under malign foreign influence; Trump eagerly accepted the aid of a foreign adversary during the election. They accused Obama of genuflecting before Russian President Vladimir Putin; Trump has refused to even criticize Putin publicly. They attacked Obama for his ties to Tony Rezko, the crooked real-estate agent; Trump's ties to organized crime are too numerous to name.
Conservatives said Obama was lazy; Trump "gets bored and likes to watch TV." They said Obama’s golfing was excessive; as of August Trump had spent nearly a fifth of his presidency golfing. They attributed Obama's intellectual prowess to his teleprompter; Trump seems unable to describe the basics of any of his own policies. They said Obama was a self-obsessed egomaniac; Trump is unable to broach topics of public concern without boasting.
Conservatives said Obama quietly used the power of the state to attack his enemies; Trump has publicly attempted to use the power of the state to attack his enemies. Republicans said Obama was racially divisive; Trump has called Nazis "very fine people." Conservatives portrayed Obama as a vapid celebrity; Trump is a vapid celebrity. There is virtually no personality defect that conservatives accused Obama of possessing that Trump himself does not actually possess. This, not some uncanny oracular talent, is the reason Trump’s years-old tweets channeling conservative anger at Obama apply so perfectly to his own present conduct.
Trump's great political insight was that Obama’s time in office inflicted a profound psychological wound upon many white Americans, one that he could remedy by adopting the false narrative that placed the first black president outside the bounds of American citizenship.
He intuited that Obama's presence in the White House decreased the value of what W. E. B. Du Bois described as the "psychological wage" of whiteness across all classes of white Americans, and that the path to their hearts lay in invoking a bygone past when this affront had not taken place, and could not take place.
That the legacy of the first black president could be erased by a birther, that the woman who could have been the first female president was foiled by a man who confessed to sexual assault on tape -- these were not drawbacks to Trump’s candidacy, but central to understanding how he would wield power, and on whose behalf.
Americans act with the understanding that Trump’s nationalism promises to restore traditional boundaries of race, gender, and sexuality. The nature of that same nationalism is to deny its essence, the better to salve the conscience and spare the soul...
Overall, poor and working-class Americans did not support Trump; it was white Americans on all levels of the income spectrum who secured his victory. Clinton was only competitive with Trump among white people making more than $100,000, but the fact that their shares of the vote was nearly identical drives the point home:
Economic suffering alone does not explain the rise of Trump. Nor does the Calamity Thesis explain why comparably situated black Americans, who are considerably more vulnerable than their white counterparts, remained so immune to Trump’s appeal. The answer cannot be that black Americans were suffering less than the white working class or the poor, but that Trump’s solutions did not appeal to people of color because they were premised on a national vision that excluded them as full citizens...
Trumpism emerged from a haze of delusion, denial, pride, and cruelty -- not as a historical anomaly, but as a profoundly American phenomenon. This explains both how tens of millions of white Americans could pull the lever for a candidate running on a racist platform and justify doing so, and why a predominantly white political class would search so desperately for an alternative explanation for what it had just seen. To acknowledge the centrality of racial inequality to American democracy is to question its legitimacy -- so it must be denied.
I don't mean to suggest that Trump's nationalism is impervious to politics. It is not invincible. Its earlier iterations have been defeated before, and can be defeated now. Abraham Lincoln began the Civil War believing that former slaves would have to be transported to West Africa. Lyndon Johnson began his political career as a segregationist.
Both came to realize that the question of black rights in America is not mere identity politics -- not a peripheral matter, but the central, existential question of the republic.
Nothing is inevitable, people can change. No one is irredeemable. But recognition precedes enlightenment. Nevertheless, a majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront.
Yet at its core, white nationalism has and always will be a hustle, a con, a fraud that cannot deliver the broad-based prosperity it promises, not even to most white people. Perhaps the most persuasive argument against Trumpist nationalism is not one its opponents can make in a way that his supporters will believe. But the failure of Trump's promises to white America may yet show that both the fruit and the tree are poison.
View along Gambrills Road, Gambrills, Md., 3:11PM November 22, 2017.
As a brief update, I'm here at my mom's place in Glen Burnie tonight for the Thanksgiving holiday and until Saturday. I intend to post another entry tomorrow after our Thanksgiving dinner at the Severna Park American Legion. I'm in the process of preparing that 3-month delayed South Carolina solar eclipse vacation.
So it turns out that my mom's cable company (Broadstripe) carries MeTV (Baltimore), and I'm presently watching Perry Mason while composing this.
Actually, by the time I posted the finalized version of this entry (at 1:27AM), The Twilight Zone rerun was aired. The episode was that really freaky one "The Eye of the Beholder." Donna Douglas (of Beverly Hillbillies fame) and Edson Stroll are the "hideous" attractive couple in the end. (That's quite a nice physique Edson had in the episode (see above picture).
Speaking of hideous ...
That face could (does) give anyone with a decent, compassionate soul nightmares.
OK, that's all for now. I need to go to bed.