Saturday, March 5, 2016

Trump and Wallace

Both George Wallace and Donald Trump exploded their political careers into the national spotlight by focusing on race and walls. Race: George through Segregation; Donald through Birtherism. As for walls: Wallace barricaded the halls of a University to stop Black students from opportunity; Trump through his outlandish claim to build a wall on the border (and end opportunity for poor Hispanics).

Wallace and Trump were both populists. They both tried (and try) to appeal beyond race. But race is what they will both be remembered for. And the racial insults of Donald Trump automatically disqualifies him from being a serious presidential candidate.

Both Wallace and Trump could entice and entertain. Here is Gonzo Journalist Hunter Thompson writing in 1972 about Wallace when HST interviewed a Polish factory worker:

"This guy is the real thing" one of them said. "I never cared anything about politics before, but Wallace ain't the same as the others. He doesn't sneak around the bush. He just comes right out and says it".

Thompson goes on to write about a Wallace rally:

"It was the first time I'd ever seen Wallace in person. There were no seats in the hall; everybody was standing. The air was electric even before he started talking, and by the time he was five or six minutes into his spiel, I had a sense that the bastard had levitated himself and was hovering over us. It reminded me of a Janis Joplin concert. Anybody who doubts the Wallace appeal should go out and catch his act sometime."

There are a lot of George Wallace's political genes in Donald Trump. They are both populist racists separated only by 50 years of history. They both represent the worst, most awful, political impulse the American people are capable of. Yes, there are some good things in Trump's program: his critique of exporting jobs to other countries and his opposition to TPP. Even the devil has good qualities. But when you boil Trump down to his basic essence, you find the stench of racism.

American people: Wake up!

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