This nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation. S. Jonas, Aug. 7, 2018
(And right now, it's not looking too good.)
Trump is on a racist, xenophobic rampage that is over even his top past performances. For indeed, convincing every last one of his followers to come out and vote on Nov. 6, combined with as massive a voter suppression campaign as the Repubs. are capable of organizing (and for sure they are hard at it), is the only way that the Repubs. can retain control of the House of Representatives. And they might conceivably lose the Senate too. [See the Addendum below for what will likely happen were they to lose even just the House: a massive attack on multiple levels to prevent the 116th Congress from ever convening.]
Numbers of leading intellectual lights, like the academic historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, (one of whose specialties is the First Civil War), other academics, many mainstream political analysts, certain leading Democrats, the "Third Way" folks (translation: neoliberal, right-wing Democrats), and others, have responded to the Trumpist outpouring by saying that what is wrong with what he is saying is that he is "splitting the country apart." There actually is a political party (quite small, to be sure) the platform of which is built on the concept of "finding the "Middle Ground." It's called the "The Modern Whig Party." It will likely be as successful in "keeping the country together" as its predecessor was. At any rate, the collective response of the "Middlers" (as they might be called) is: "we have to bring the country together;" "the middle ground must be found;" "let's pull together, to reach the common shore." Well, that's a nice idea, but since the time that the first slave was landed in this country, there has been no "middle ground."
The institution of slavery was built into the Constitution. And as is well known it is one of the provisions that was put in to "protect" the slave states, the Electoral College, that led to Trump assuming the Presidency. The U.S. briefly became "one country," on paper at least, following the end of the Civil War. But when Reconstruction was brought to a sharp sudden end, by the Republican Party no less, the binary nature was opened up again. As I have written previously, except for the loss of the institution of chattel slavery, the South won the First Civil War. It achieved all of its other major goals, including the spread of the Doctrine of White Supremacy, which had been first invented by Portuguese slave traders in the 16thto justify slavery of Black Africans, across the whole of the country.
This doctrine was the basis for "Jim Crow" and the electoral dominance of the racist Southern Democrats until the Civil Rights movement took over the Democratic Party in the 1960s. As is well-known, the doctrine was then very quickly adopted for the Republicans by Pres. Nixon's creation of the "Southern Strategy" for the party (adopted after he saw the electoral success the openly racist George Wallace had in 1968). It has been continued by every Republican President since then, in a hooded, "dog whistle," way to be sure. Thus Trump has invented nothing new for the Republican Party. Being the ultimate outcome of what I have termed the "Rightward Imperative" for that party, he has simply taken the hood off.
Other major elements of modern Repub. policy have been with the party for a long time. One of its founding elements in the 1850s, as the Whigs broke up over the slavery issue, was the anti-Irish and German immigrants American Party, the "Know-Nothings," led in the mid-1850s by a former Whig President, Millard Fillmore. The Repubs. have been behind every anti-immigration law since that time, beginning with the "Chinese Exclusion Act" of 1883. So, Trump's xenophobia has been in the Repub. DNA since the beginning. Again, he is just more openly virulent about it than his precessors (at least since Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge ran wild with the xenophobic ball in the 1920s). Further, very importantly, since Ronald Reagan first forged the connection between the Repubs. and the Religious Right during the 1980 campaign, that alliance has been central to Repub. electoral success as well. The totally amoral Trump has simply made it ever-stronger, and evermore public.
Repub. policy has also included voter suppression and more recently massive pro-Repub. Gerrymandering. (The campaign to take over State Houses and State legislatures in order to dominate redistricting in 2010, to facilitate systematic gerrymandering was started by the Koch Brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC, in 2007.) As a former leading Republican strategist, Paul Weyrich, famously once said: "They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
There is No Middle Ground
And so, what about that "Middle Ground," then, and the claim that what "we" need to do as a nation is "find it." Well, first of all, there is no "we" as a nation and never has been, since 1619. Sometimes the basic differences have been glossed over and certain advances in social policy have been made, under, as it happens, Democratic Administration like that of franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson (before he tragically got swallowed up by the Viet Nam trap). But the modern "neoliberal" Democratic Party, founded by Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the 1980s, took the Democrats in a retrograde direction and eventually formed a functional duopoly with the Repubs., on economic, foreign, and criminal justice policy, among others. What can be called the "Bernie Sanders" wing of the party, with a policy set that I have called "The New Deal on Steroids," is trying to pull the party in a social democratic direction. Further there are actually a few Democratic Socialists, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, actually running for office.
But let's briefly look at the major issues which divide most Democrats (as the party slowly moves away from its neo-liberal base), as well as those to the left of the Democratic Party, e.g., the "Greens," the Social Democrats, the Communist Party of the United States, the Revolutionary Communist Party and its "Refuse Fascism" movement, and the Socialist Workers Party, from virtually all Repubs. (not necessarily in order of importance):
1. Voting Rights. One either wants to expand them, as broadly as possible, and then protect them when they are established, or constrict them as narrowly as possible.
2. Congressional and state legislative districts. One either wants to have them as fairly set by "reasonable" shape (as "reasonable" has been defined by, say, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court) or one wants to have them drawn in forms to benefit the Republican Party that might embarrass even Gov. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, who initiated the fine art of political map drawing that is named after him, in the early 19thcentury.