When Policy Collides With Palinism

Catherine Rampell notes the lack of meaningful policy overall from Il Trumpe and the Assholes (boldface mine):

So what’s actually obstructing the Republican agenda? It’s the fact that there is no Republican agenda.

For years Republicans, including and especially the party’s current standard-bearer, have promised magic bullets for nearly every social, economic and global ill, no matter how complex. But this was not a policy platform; this was a series of bluffs disguised as a policy platform.

The latest bluff arrives this week, as the White House promotes its grand plan to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. This promotional effort comes despite an acknowledgment from National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn that no such grand plan exists. (A month earlier, Trump claimed his administration’s infrastructure proposal was already “largely completed.”)

On other domestic issues, Republicans have been touting the superiority of their woolly policy agenda for ages. Trump merely added a little color to the con.

This, however, misunderstands the goal of the Palinist–and its relation, the Trumpist (Trumpkin? Who knows, or cares). Policy is, at best, a secondary consideration:

Palin along with the proto-movement surrounding her–Palinism–practices what could be call ‘politics of the blood.’ It’s derived from Giovanni Gentile’s description of fascism: “We think with our blood.”… In Palin’s case, it’s an emotional appeal to a romanticized, mythical past of “real America.” And that’s why I think the fixation people have on Palin’s complete policy incoherence and ignorance is missing the point.

Her policy ignorance isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Palin is conceptually and intellectually poor because her politics are not about policies, but a romantic restoration of the ‘real’ America to its rightful place. The primary purpose of politics is not to govern, not to provide services, and not to solve mundane, although often important, problems. For the Palinist, politics first and foremost exists to enable the social restoration of ‘real’ Americans (think about the phrase “red blooded American”) and the emotional and social advantages that restoration would provide to its followers… Practicalities of governance, such as compromise and worrying about reality-based outcomes, actually get in the way. Why risk having your fantasy muddied by reality?

In this way, symbols and short phrases are the goal, not a means (although others, such as corporations and lobbyists, are willing to co-opt the emotions these symbols generate to further their own agendas)….

But that romanticism is at the heart of Palinism. It’s not a forward-looking utopianism, but a desire to return to a mythical, halcyon America that was Christian, low-tax, small government, and had less racial and ethnic discord (the latter is the most absurd, but, if you were white, there weren’t racial problems: you were white–no problems!).

If Il Trumpe were to be impeached tomorrow, it would still be the same old shit under Grand Theogonist Mike Pence: tax cuts for the rich (the North Star of the Republican Party) and lots of symbolic policy, which is far more concerned about making statements and villainizing outgroups, than actually fixing problems.

This is nothing unique to Trump at all.

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2 Responses to When Policy Collides With Palinism

  1. A in Ca says:

    Whatever Republicans propose is addressed to fix -what they think is the main problem of Ameirca,
    namely _the poor have too much money, and the rich not enough_ .

  2. wphurley says:

    Jean Hardisty proffered a similar assessment of right-wing nativists (read neo-fascists) in her book “Mobilizing Resentiment”.

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