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Memo to "Jeb!" From the Base: Go Racist or Go Home

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After the *Subtle* Racist Vote
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epublican presidential contender "Jeb!" Bush recently came out against multiculturalism (http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/22/politics/jeb-bush-multiculturalism-iowa/).

"We should not have a multicultural society," he said.

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Let that sink in for a minute.

Then, the article goes on to explain:

But Bush, who's a self-admitted policy wonk and tends to use nuanced language, was referring to "multicultural" in the literal sense -- a social model in which cultures live in "isolated pockets," as he described them, rather than assimilating into society.

See, here's the amusing thing. Bush is trying to "me too!" his way into the racist Republican vote, which is considerable. It's very obviously the basis of Trump's 31-35% support. But he's trying to do it the old fashioned Republican way, which is to use dog-whistles.

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"Jeb!" isn't getting it. The Republican electorate is in no mood for "nuanced" language. All the Republican candidates, "Jeb!" included, have been hoisted on the petard of the nonstop drumbeat toward overt racism that has been proliferated by their media arms, most notably Fox "News" and AM hate radio. The base is not in the mood to hear about the evils of "multiculturalism," which is a seven-syllable word.

They want to hear about how the Mexicans are rapists and murderers. They want to hear about how there's a problem in this country and it's called Muslims. They don't want to hear about multiculturalism. They don't even know what the hell that is.

"Jeb!" was raised in polite society, of course, where we just don't say things like that out loud. You say things like that in dog-whistle language. You don't say that all blacks are lazy moochers out loud. You instead do like Reagan did, and tell anecdotes about Cadillac-driving "Welfare Queens" and let the coded language do the rest. You don't say that you're for the return of segregation, you say you're simply for "states rights." You don't call Michael Dukakis an n-word-lover. You put Willie Horton, black rapist and murderer in television ads in order to scare people into voting for the tough-on-crime white guy (who was, incidentally, in that case, "Jeb!"'s father, George H. W. Bush). (Oddly enough, there were no radio ads about Willie Horton. Why was that, you suppose?)

But the one thing you don't do is this: you certainly don't say that you're not down with "multiculturalism." You might as well say "cultural hegemony promotes greater disaffection among the proletariat, risking upheaval of the overall social strata" to the base. See how far that gets you.

You're not getting it, "Jeb!". Your base wants overt racism in all its venal, ugly, base glory. And you may want to ditch that Latina wife of yours. The base is not going to be down with that either. Don't whine about it, just ditch her. Now. Do you want the nomination or not?

However, if you are sane, and not a racist, there is a candidate for you. And he does more than pander to black voters by dancing the nae nae on the Ellen DeGeneres show (http://progressivedifference.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/do-the-hustle/). His name is Bernie Sanders, and he has a lot to say about race relations, including solid policy proposals (http://berniesanders.com/issues/racial-justice/)

In the meantime, let us enjoy the Schadenfreude that comes with watching "Jeb!" flapping there in the wind, desperately trying to "me too!" his way into the racist Trump vote, but in such an awkward way that is commensurate with the congeniality of his hoity-to-the-toity upbringing. This is has been coming for years. Fox News and AM Hate Radio have been pushing the envelope and pushing the envelope and pushing the envelope to see how far the bounds of acceptability will go, and they have finally found out--- there are no bounds! So they have created for themselves a climate where their base electorate can demand of their candidates: Go Racist or Go Home.

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Dog-whistles about "multiculturalism"? That was last year's culture war. You have to keep up with the times, "Jeb!".

If "Jeb!" really wants to put his racist bona fides on the table, he could remind us about that time he managed to get 58,000 voters arbitrarily thrown off the voter rolls in Florida in an effort to target black voters (http://billmoyers.com/2015/07/31/how-the-2000-election-in-florida-new-wave-voter-disenfranchisement/). But that would raise the thorny issue of how "Jeb!" helped his brother steal the 2000 election, and I don't think "Jeb!" wants to remind anybody of that.

Let's face it, "Jeb!" You can't just "me too" your way into Trump's racist vote. You have to out-racist and out-venal the king of venal racism, but that goes against the entire Bush Family way of doing things (dog-whistles and whisper campaigns).

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Robert Gross is the editor-in-chief and composer-in-residence of Progressive Difference (progressivedifference dot wordpress dot com).

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