FirstThings.Com's Rusty Reno joined Dan & Amy to discuss his distillation of the Left's solidarity-in-marginality politics and why ever more absurd forays into bigot-baiting are required to keep intact the coalition over which rich post-Protestant WASPs lord.
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Narrator: Let not your heart be troubled. Listen to Sean Hannity. I’ll have the latest news and what it all means for you. It’s coming up at two right here on AM 560, The Answer. Dan Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy. We’re coming to you live from Cleveland. Day Two of the Republican National Convention. It’s been an eventful convention so far and we’ve just had a full day of activity. Amy Jacobson: Oh, yeah. You know what? You keep saying it was a good display of speakers at last night’s opening night. Dan Proft: Yeah. Amy Jacobson: They kept it moving. That’s for sure. It was just stories upon stories. Testimonials are just honest opinions about how people’s lives have changed because of the poor decisions the Obama administration had made but one thing about it, it wasn’t angry last night. Dan Proft: No. Amy Jacobson: I learned something. I empathized with these people and I sympathized with them. I can’t empathized with them. I sympathized with them. It was eye opening and I just again I love that it wasn’t angry because Republicans always get tagged as the angry party and it wasn’t angry. It was heartfelt. Dan Proft: Well, yeah. Also, you heard from some people within the Republican ranks that maybe you hadn’t heard from or not heard much from unless you watch the Sunday talkies and the cable channels routinely and who can do that with any consistency and not lose portions of your grey matter? It wasn’t the same hackneyed talking points from the same politicians that have become the punitive standard bearers of the party and I enjoyed that as well. I want to get to this piece. I mentioned it yesterday and I did an inadequate job of explaining it because I’m just a radio guy. I’m not a deep thinker like Rusty Reno. Amy Jacobson: You, inadequate? I don’t think so. I don’t think so, Dan. Dan Proft: Well, Rusty Reno, and I’m not overstating this, Rusty Reno from First Things, you also can read his work in National Review online, he has written the best distillation of the left and its tactics that I have read in as long as I can remember. It should be required reading for every conservation, every political operative, every Republic office-holder. If you want to understand the purposefulness with which the left does what it does so that you contemplate a response that actually addresses it and so for example, in 2016 Republicans don’t get Sandra Fluke’d like they did in 2012. For more on his piece and a better explanation of it than I was able to offer, we’re joined by Rusty Reno. The piece Bigot-Baiting, read it in FirstThings.com. Rusty, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Rusty Reno: Great to be on the show. Thanks for those kind words. Dan Proft: No, it really is an excellent, excellent piece and wanted to have you help us walk through it so people get it. When you bigot-bait, when people see the Sandra Fluke and Democrats make the entire convention in 2012 about birth control for well-to-do Georgetown law students, when they make… Amy Jacobson: What started the attack on women? Dan Proft: Well, right. When they’re on the precipice of making 2016 at least in part about grown men going to the bathroom with little girls and people look at that, say, they’ve lost touch, this is going to be their undoing and you say, those people who believe that are completely missing the point. Explain. Rusty Reno: Yeah, I think that we need to ask ourselves why would the Democratic Party press these issues so hard, especially transgender rights. It really is a tiny, tiny portion of the population and now the Obama administration’s in a full court press on this. It helped me realize that part of what they need to do is whip up a frenzy of anxiety about discrimination because they helps hold their coalition together. The Democratic Party is dominated by mostly white, liberal, elites and the votes are increasingly provided by diverse groups of minorities and as our society becomes more inclusive and as we all know, in our workplace we get along just fine but that’s a threat to their coalition. Because success actually in racial and ethnic integration is a threat to their political power so they have to constantly redrive the wedge and insist upon that our nation remains discriminatory. Here’s where something like transgender or I think of the Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, this mediation fixation on this poor family that was running this little pizza place as if the future of our country depended upon every single person falling in line with the sexual revolution and I realized that part of that is to whip up this frenzy of anxiety about oppression and discrimination. Amy Jacobson: So the Democratic Party creates these issues as a way to stay relevant and seem hip and cool and attract more people to the party? Is that possible? Rusty Reno: To keep the coalition together. You have mostly white liberals who are well-education, who dominate the Democratic Party’s policy and they provide the funding. They are the ones who are most concerned at how they get elected so that they can maintain power in our country. The soldiers who provide the votes are different ethnic groups that are allied with the Democratic Party because the Democratic Party promises to protect them. Again, you’ve got it. Oppression and discrimination. So you’ve got to constantly hector about the dangers of discrimination. One prominent commentator described Trump voters as motivated by racism, nativism, xenophobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism. That’s quite a laundry list of threats to society and you can see how this is designed to raise the temperature, motivate Democratic voters to go the polls. Dan Proft: Yeah. Just to use another example that’s in present, so when people see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders essentially genuflect before Black Lives Matter in the primary and make Black Lives Matter a legitimate part of their coalition, and again those on the center-right incline or just common sense inclined, to say, “Well, that’s way overstepping it there.” The Democrats, again, they’re not in line with where the majority of Americans are. It misses the point because what those white liberal post-Protestant WASPs want to do is make sure that American blacks remain convinced the GOP is about oppressing them because they need 90% of the African-American vote so it doesn’t matter that their policy agenda, those white wealthy liberals, their policy agenda isn’t necessarily advantageous to African-Americans or other minorities. They just need to keep the solidarity in marginality as you describe it. Rusty Reno: Right, that’s why the gay issue becomes so useful because it’s really an upper-middle class issue. Gay marriage is a luxury good for the rich that’s going to be paid for by the poor. As marriage collapses in the black community and increasingly declines in the poor white communities, this is a consequence of our desacralization of marriage. The gay issues is all about oppression and so the African-American voter resonates to that message even though their interests are completely at odds with the gay rights movement which is very much an upper class movement. Dan Proft: Let me ask you this. The obvious follow-up question to your distillation of this approach from the left is how should conservatives respond because some say we should abdicate the field on these moral issues. Well, as Mitt Romney found out, they’ll just chase you. If you don’t want to talk about it, great, that’s all we want to talk about. Then if you confront, you get a lot of Republicans that get jumpy because why aren’t we talking about economics rather than these moral issues. Rusty Reno: Well, I got to say that this is where Donald Trump has found, he’s got a kind of genius which you just confront this head-on and to be frank, you just drop a big turd in the middle of the conversation and disrupt the patterns that we’ve developed over the last 30 or 40 years. It’s become so ritualized. You have denunciations of discrimination and you get Republicans, mea culpa, everybody assembles to denounce David Duke. David Duke has no relevance to anything in American society right now. Amy Jacobson: The new issue this morning is that Melania plagiarized Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. So the left is really reaching here, I think. Rusty Reno: Well, that’s right. I think Trump in general has just so horrified the left because he breaks the rules of political discourse. I don’t agree with all his policy positions and I certainly don’t agree with all of his rhetoric but I’m very grateful that he’s disrupting these ritualized ways of talking about cultural issues. Dan Proft: Yeah, I echo that sentiment. I guarantee if you read Rusty Reno’s piece Bigot-Baiting, you will not find the phrase “big turd” in it. Rusty Reno, FirstThings.com, the article is Bigot-Baiting, it’s the August 2016 issue of FirstThings and you can go obviously to the website and find it as well. Rusty, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Rusty Reno: Great. I’m jealous you’re in Cleveland. It’s a very exciting time. Dan Proft: Yeah, it’s fun. Thanks. Thanks, Rusty.