Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This Is A Big Deal

Eliminationism is  the  "belief that one's political opponents are "a cancer on the body politic that must be excised—either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination—in order to protect the purity of the nation".[1]"

If you were searching for the tone and substance of the GOP convention, there it is. Dave Neiwert has argued that this trend towards eliminationist rhetoric and thought has been building within the right wing media echo chamber for years.  The fever swamps of talk radio has been full of this for decades.  Fox News has always danced up to that line, but rarely crossed it.  

What we are seeing in Cleveland is that line being obliterated.  And that's terrifying.

I can't recall how many times I've worried about Trumpism's destruction of American political norms.  Here is a clear and dangerous example.

- You have a New Hampshire delegate saying Clinton should be shot for treason.
- You have a West Virginia legislator call for her hanging.
- You have Chris Christie called first for the jailing of Clinton and then for the purging of the civil service.  Christie gave less of a speech and more of a Stalinist show trial.

This REALLY freaking matters.  This is so much more important than whether Melania plagiarized her speech (she did) or whether Donald Junior plagiarized his (sort of, but only in academia).  

Eliminationist rhetoric was at the heart of the Birther movement.  It posits first that no Democratic president can be legitimate because "those people" voted them into office.  As the GOP looks to lose their third consecutive presidential election, the shrill cries of the eliminationists will get louder.

As we have seen with Black Lives Matter, even tempered calls for radical change can energize and empower the radical fringes.  I've met Deray McKesson, he's a thoughtful, considerate and peaceful man.  But his message can be pared away to a warped version of itself by the Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters.  

What will the warped minds on the Right do with people who are outright calling for the death of the Democratic nominee for president?  

Clinton has high unfavorables.  I remain convinced that a great deal of that is that she is a woman who grates certain men the wrong way.  Combine that with the "D" after her name and you get millions of Americans who don't want her as president.


But the rhetoric from Cleveland is deeply, deeply dangerous in its extremism.  It is not saying that Clinton is incompetent or wrong or unqualified or flawed.  It is saying that she is a traitor, a criminal and, literally, in league with Lucifer.  If they really believe that, what happens when Clinton gets 55% of the popular vote in November?  Or even 51%?    Or 47% and 310 electoral votes?


That's what happens.

Eliminationism is a preceding cause of the Holocaust, Rwanda, Pol Pot's killing fields, Stalinist name it.  First, you deny them their humanity and rights.  Then you round them up.  Then you kill them.

Trump thinks it's all theater, I suppose.  It's not.  Not to some people.

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