In many respects, Trump and the phenomena surrounding him represent a toxic residue of almost everything wrong, indeed evil, about the GOP and American society. He and his followers are White Supremacists or tolerators thereof. The same goes for misogyny, anti-intellectualism, and a brutishly indifference to environmental collapse. Throw in reckless, often criminal foreign policy and the perpetual economic scam, “trickle-down economics” (which is, among other things, a method to loot economy), and you have most of the package.
One more key feature, however, is what I’ll call the real political correctness. You will remember that one of Trump’s go-to, complacent excuses in the campaign for having said or done something grotesque was to label the critique a product of “political correctness” and move on, accompanied by the cheers of zombies.
I always thought the rise of the political correctness concept was complete bullshit. Pardon my French. It was simply a lazy way to make an excuse for being too inflexible to change habits of thinking with regard to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and so on. I’m so old, I remember when the idea of using non-sexist phrasing–for instance, not using “men” and related pronouns to stand for all people–was considered politically correct. Have there been people who were over-zealous about marking resistance to change? Of course. So what? There are a range of over-zealous people (recently they elected a depraved, barking mad president) in workplaces, professions, and at large. Their presence doesn’t amount to a an excuse not to adapt one’s language and thinking.
Meanwhile, down the decades, the real bedrock political correctness belongs almost exclusively to the White right wing. Here are some examples of topics that, systemically, American treats as taboo topics:
The military-industrial complex about which Eisenhower (not a “liberal”) warned us. In media, politics, and society at large, one almost never sees or hears a serious discussion of economic and political engine, which drives everything from formulations of budgets to foreign policy.
White Supremacy and, specifically, the White Supremacy of the GOP. The “Southern Strategy” is plainly racist and White Supremacist, rooted in a Southern and Midwest tradition of Jim Crow, terror, de facto segregation, jerrymandering, and “voter suppression”: Jim Crow.
Anti-labor thuggery. The White Right has basically neutered labor movements; recall that one of Reagan’s first moves was to fire unionized air-traffic controllers. Then came the “right to work” laws (great Orwellian phrasing) used to gut unionization.
The abject horrors of American justice. The sheer number of people we imprison and how we imprison them are evil, and that’s before we raise the subjects of race, poverty, militarized, unaccountable police forces, the war on Black people [“drugs”], and the school-prison pipeline. Emblematic of this nightmare: Walter Sullivan, a middle-aged Black man, unarmed, running away from a policeman, shot in the back and killed. The policeman then plants a gun next to the body. The trial of the policemen results in no verdict, in spite of videotaped evidence. Tamir Rice: slaughtered. Freddie Gray: neck broken during an arrest. Michael Brown: shot and killed, his body left uncovered in the street for hours as a trophy of White Supremacist policing.
Almost all Whites, including Bernie Sanders, get to be indifferent to such topics. They get to drool such phrases as “well, ‘they’ shouldn’t commit crimes,” “I’m tired of talking about race,” “my family worked for everything it has” [thanks for the non sequitur]. The State of Michigan and the U.S. government get to react sluggishly, or not at all, to lead poisoning. The new EPA director gets to dismiss global warming, the settled science behind the idea, and the consequences. The White Chief Trump gets to brag about sexual assault on video/audio and get elected President.
Meanwhile, the media get to treat both parties as if they are morally the same, when mountains of evidence suggest the GOP is at base evil, not just a typically slippery, corrupt political party like the Democrats. They get to treat “the Southern Strategy” as if it were some kind of cute chess-move and not a continuation of the Civil War. They cheerfully go along with “the war on terror,” the war crimes that came along with it, and the ancillary rampant xenophobia that Trump promotes.
The real political correctness is the kind that normalizes the evils the GOP. Trump is a direct consequence of this political correctness, which sneers at the slightest hint of critique or objection, and which informs the Goebbels-like propaganda of Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge, the president’s press secretary, and so on.
I recall viewing a Trump campaign rally at which, after Trump had said something ugly about Senator Clinton, a supporter yelled, “String her up.” The crowd cheered. Trump enjoyed the moment. White Supremacy, in the form of lynch-talk, and vicious misogyny. Completely acceptable in our society.