Tom Cotton is not only a Trump supporter but an acolyte of the MAGA cult, aspiring to be High Priest. Trump was never going to be around more than eight years in any event, and now it looks like he’ll bite the dust sooner, but that doesn’t mean that his dogma won’t live on. After all, the GOP paved the way for forty years so that a creature like Trump could appear and Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and a few others are in line to assume the mantle. However, they might do well to consider whether it’s a dying religion and Cotton may be on a fool’s errand.
Cotton spoke in front of the Senate on the topic of whether Washington, D.C. should become a state. He said things like, “Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe?” As opposed to Trump? Personally, I would trust Rin Tin Tin to keep Washington safe, above Trump, and we’ve already seen why. In all events, Cotton’s speech was a coded racist screed for the ages. As Esquire’s Charlie Pierce put it, “What the fck is this? I mean, besides the obvious dogwhistles that can be heard beyond the orbit of Neptune.” Esquire:
Cotton blew through the customary bargain-bin of historical references—Jacobins! The Philadelphia Mutiny!—and he trotted out the name of Marion Barry, of whom I had not thought in a decade, as a demonstration that DC can’t be a state because the residents can’t be trusted to govern themselves. (Dips into bargain-bin of historical references and comes up with a small box labelled, “Redeemers.”) There was some lengthy mendacity on the subject of, if Washington can be a state, why can’t Jacksonville or New York? And, of course, the cat peeped from the bag; this is all about two additional Democratic senators elected by a population to whom the Republicans would rather not appeal.
But just as one’s interest began to flag, Cotton let the pigeons loose.
“Yes, Wyoming is smaller than Washington by population, but it has three times as many workers in mining, logging and construction, and ten times as many workers in manufacturing. In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working-class state. A new state of Washington would not be…What vital industries would the new state of Washington represent? Lobbying? Bureaucracy? Give me a break. By far, the largest group of workers in the city are bureaucrats and other white-collar professionals. This state would be nothing more than an appendage of the federal government.”
Interesting that he would tout Wyoming, the most insanely over-represented deeo red Republican state in the union. The population of the entire state is 578,000, which is roughly the size of Glendale, Pasadena and Burbank put together and nobody wants to give the San Fernando Valley statehood and two more senators, I’ll warrant that.
Now I find it fascinating that hardhat trades like mining and logging and manufacturing are considered more valuable pursuits than what goes on in the cities, and so does Charlie Pierce. He marvels that in Cotton’s mind, the aforementioned trades “count for more as ‘workers’ than do street-cleaners, and hotel maids, and cops, and cabbies, and sanitation workers, and bodega clerks who make Washington a better place for Tom Cotton to live than back home in Bugtussle is.”
So read this as the MAGAts do, the “real Americans” live in rural areas and do mining and logging, like their forefathers did. This isn’t just my speculation, Franklin Graham came right and said in 2016, there “was no pride in computer programming,” and that “the men want the same jobs as their fathers and grandfathers.” So anti-intellectualism, low education, and being in the boondocks is being a real American and those of us in the cities are just psycho, degenerate, gay, leftist, commie pinko liberals — and we’re not real Americans. And we’re so twisted we find pride in professions that involve things like computers. Fancy that. This is just one more log on the fire for my observation that there are two Americas, commingled and coexisting side by side, but two different worlds, altogether.
There is no way that the GOP wants to see Washington, D.C. become a state with a population that will produce two more Democratic senators. You can put that in Trump’s phone and tweet it, it’s that absolute, and for the reasons Pierce cited.
The Cult of Trump is the cult of racism. But here’s the rub. Here’s where it gets dicey for the GOP. The protests and outpouring of public sentiment in the wake of the death of George Floyd raise the unthinkable question: what if the racist dog whistles don’t work anymore and come across simply as that — racist dog whistles?
“What’s happening now terrifies them because they all know one simple thing, which they’ll never admit: If the white middle class rejects en masse racially discriminatory behavior and racially coded messages, they’re cooked…Mind you, as heartening as these last few weeks have been, that’s still a big ‘if.’ Let’s not declare victory here. But we are seeing historic breakthroughs. Polls suggest a good two-thirds of the country will not buy that GOP hoodoo juice anymore.”
Those are the words of columnist Michael Tomasky, quoted in a piece here, “The GOP Is Terrified White People Are Finally Sick of Racism and They’re Out Of A Job.” The opinion shift from the time of the death of Eric Garner in 2014 to that of George Floyd in 2020 was seismic, from 33% to 57% of people believe that police are likely to use excessive force against African Americans.
This is a sea change, and in the middle of an election year that was already challenged by the coronavirus and economic injuries, neither one of which is going to go away “miraculously.” It could be possible that Tom Cotton whistling Dixie is just whistling in the dark.