Remember Sarah Palin’s favorite campaign prop, Joe the Plumber? In 2008, they talked about real (read: white) America. And after Barack Obama won the 2008 election, many delusional Americans assumed Palin and her white supremacist ideas were defeated.
Not so fast, cautions Paul Krugman in his Monday column.
In his first post-Charlottesville dispatch, Krugman reminds us that Palin “was harshly condemned for those remarks, and rightly so — and not just because the real, real America is a multiracial, multicultural land of great metropolitan areas as well as small towns. More fundamentally, what makes America America is that it is built around an idea: the idea that all men are created equal, and are entitled to basic human rights. Take away that idea and we’re just a giant version of a two-bit autocracy.”
Unfortunately, as this weekend’s events proved, we’re much closer to said autocracy than we were nine years ago. Even worse, “Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn the murderous white supremacists in Charlottesville finally confirms what has become increasingly obvious: The current president of the United States isn’t a real American.”
Real Americans are devoted to the ideals of inclusion and diversity, not the “place or race your ancestors came from. And when we fall short in our effort to live up to our ideals, as we all too often do, at least we realize and acknowledge our failure.”
Trump may have proved he isn’t a real American this weekend, but we shouldn’t be surprised. What did we expect from the man “who began his political ascent by falsely questioning Barack Obama’s place of birth.” This is a man who prefers not only the company of white supremacists, but of dictators—”people like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Rodrigo Duterte, the homicidal leader of the Philippines. When Trump visited Saudi Arabia, his commerce secretary exulted in the absence of hostile demonstrations, an absence ensured by the repressiveness of the regime.”
The only surprising part of Trump’s actions is his inability even to fake concern.
“We all know that Trump feels comfortable with white supremacists,” Krugman writes, “but it’s amazing that he won’t even give them a light tap on the wrist. We all know that Putin is Trump’s kind of guy, but it’s remarkable that Trump won’t even pretend to be outraged at Putin’s meddling with our election.”
About the investigation into Russian election meddlng, Krugman admits he has no special insider knowledge of the FBI’s progress, but leaves us with this: “Trump is acting very much like someone with something big to hide, but we don’t yet know exactly what that something is.”
Whether Trump colluded with Russia remains uncertain, but we already have a hostile foreign power in the White House: the president.
Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor