Trump’s Home Base: The Insurgents

Just a few weeks ago, the headlines centered on how Trump was reaching out to Democrats to make a deal on budget issues and was prepared to work with them on the Dream Act. As a result, his approval rating inched up a bit. A rational person would have noticed that and perhaps learned something. But betting on Trump being rational is very often a losing proposition.

White House officials say the president is deeply worried that his recent show of bipartisanship on the budget and on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals immigration program with two Democratic leaders — Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer — endangers his standing with the base.

As a result, the president discarded advice from his aides and was combative towards North Korea in his speech at the UN. He also picked a fight with black athletes. In order to understand what that’s all about, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report what they heard from people in the White House.

In private, the president and his top aides freely admit that he is engaged in a culture war on behalf of his white, working-class base, a New York billionaire waging war against “politically correct” coastal elites on behalf of his supporters in the South and in the Midwest. He believes the war was foisted upon him by former President Barack Obama and other Democrats — and he is determined to win, current and former aides said.

The idea that this “culture war” was foisted on Trump by Obama and the Democrats is both delusional and further evidence that Ta-Nehisi Coates was right.

For Trump, it almost seems that the fact of Obama, the fact of a black president, insulted him personally…Replacing Obama is not enough—Trump has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own….Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president.

No matter where Trump ventures, the so-called “culture war” that he first ignited with his claims that this country’s first African American president was neither competent nor a citizen will be his home base. But to frame this as a culture war is to give it too much credence. Some have rightly suggested that the connection Trump feels with his white base of supporters is primarily about the politics of resentment. For a while now, I have been suggesting that he tapped into a confederate insurgency.

The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order, and so all forms of legal and illegal resistance are justified when it tries…

The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.

The major defeats experienced yesterday by “establishment Republicans” in the Alabama senate race and the collapse of the latest attempt to repeal Obamacare are likely to confirm Trump’s connection with the insurgents. In other words, when it comes to the emerging battle of the Republican oligarchs, I suspect that we’ll soon see the president planting himself pretty firmly on the side of Bannon and Mercer.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.