By Joe Lowndes (August 3, 2017)
Over the last week the White House appeared to be in a kind of free fall, marked by palace intrigue, organizational chaos, and of course, the rise and fall of the Mooch. In contrast this commedia dell-arte however, we now get two proposals that advance a clear domestic agenda: the proposed immigration “merit system” and a planned assault on affirmative action in college admissions.
Since the beginning, the white nationalists in the Trump administration have been depicted as fanatics and political outsiders who would ultimately get sidelined by the everyday imperatives of governing. Today, they look more like what they always have been – the most clear-eyed representatives of Trumpism as it was presented to voters on the campaign trail. Indeed, if anything rescues this presidency it will be a steady, focused agenda that continues to target black and brown people through various forms of policy, legislation and law enforcement (federal and local).
To the degree that other avenues are closed off to the Trump administration, it can exercise power in areas where it is relatively unconstrained. This is particularly true in regard to the DOJ which can and has bolstered and given freer reign to ICE and border patrol, has let local law enforcement agencies off the leash, and is now using its civil rights division on take on affirmative action – all the while turning a blind eye toward, (and in some cases actively collaborating with) militias, neo-nazi groups etc.. This is of course why so many on the right have been hell-bent on keeping Sessions in place.
Bannon has been given to elaborate flourishes and the occasional mention of a European fascist thinker here or there. Stephen Miller sounds like a race-crazed zealot whenever he opens his mouth (like nearly shouting at CNN reporter Jim Acosta because of his “shocking cosmopolitanism” today). And the Alt Right in all its forms is thrilling to both White House announcements. But that doesn’t mean that the white nationalists in the White House represent some kind of political exoticism unmindful of the need to govern soberly. Rather they are the steadfast stewards of Trumpism – ignoring the noise and drama of personalities in conflict and delivering to his broad electoral coalition exactly what the boss promised they would. This is the Middle America they aim to hold onto for the next election cycle.