Racism, misogyny and MAGA: was Trump necessary for America?

Are we finally seeing America’s progressive base activated? And would it have happened had Clinton won? The S&R staff discusses the backlash to the backlash.

ED: The following post collects a recent email discussion between several members of the Scholars & Rogues staff.

Gavin Chait

Here’s the thing … and I mentioned this a few months back … the backlash against Trump’s ‘class’ of masculinity is quite extensive. I counted four major US media figures being defenestrated the other day.

Is this inevitable? Would it have happened if Clinton had won?

I think not for the same reason that issues of racism didn’t get dealt with under Obama. He worked so hard to be everyone’s president – going out of his way to be inoffensive to white nationalists / bigots – that he seemed to result in a civil rights quiet patch. And look at the result … bigots turned out for Trump in droves to ‘get their country back.’

Clinton may well have resulted in a similar quiet patch for sexual harassment cases.

Instead, Trump has made so many liberals angry in ways they haven’t experienced before, and feeling so helpless, that they’re looking for ways to respond closer to home.

I am – very quietly – optimistic that the rebellion will be felt come the US mid-terms and (hopefully, as with the Tories here in the UK) the Republicans may never recover from the horseshit they have caused. Of course, it’ll take 20 years to fix the disaster they’ve caused in the last year, but hopefully you guys use the time to fix your electoral college system …


I was talking to my girlfriend last night – actually, I was mostly just listening – over this whole issue. She’s just livid. White-hot, barely restrained rage. These gender issues have always been a hot-button for her and now it’s all out, with daily reminders. How many others out there are feeling the same way?

I was saying the good news is that we have hit the tipping point. Forever men have thought certain behaviors were okay and women have accepted it because it’s just how things are. Now, very clearly, we’re all seeing that it isn’t okay. It may take generations for the attitudes to fully change, but in the meantime the behaviors will change out of sheer terror.

And history will remember Trump as the tipping point. He invited the Neanderthals out into the light and empowered them, except THAT triggered the enlightened backlash against the hillbilly backlash.

All this on top of Kaepernick.

Gavin is right about the hole we’re digging, but given our unique cultural history perhaps there simply is no other way. Perhaps there never was any other way. During the election some on the left seemed to buy into a “burn it down and start over” mindset. Yes, Trump was going to be a nightmare. Yes, we were going to hit rock bottom. Yes, people were going to suffer and die. But the Clinton/Wasserman Schultz wing of the DNC establishment promised an eternal GOP-lite platform inching ever-righter. In Dante, the path to Heaven is through the maw of Hell, and maybe the same was true here.

In the end I voted for Clinton. Then came home and took a shower. But I understood where that line of thinking came from. I still do.

Hopefully the rage will cost the GOP at least one house next year. And they get swept away for god knows how long in 2020. And somewhere in there the Dems get a fucking clue, shift left, reverse everything the GOP has done since Reagan, then go a bit further. And put a stone-cold hammerlock on the Supreme Court.

That’s the hope. Not sure the smart money is on that scenario, of course.

Frank Balsinger

“enlightened backlash against the hillbilly backlash”

“Not sure the smart money is on that scenario, of course.”

With Trump, there’s a chance for that. With Hillary, I still believe there was zero chance of that. I still wouldn’t wager on the Dems getting it together for the left. They’re trying to figure out how to salvage their centrist losses.

Re: the current #metoo trend…long overdue. That’s why I wrote that We must be okay with Weinstein peace. I don’t pat myself on the back much, but I’ll do it for that one. I think I was ahead of the curve a bit on calling out the grotesquerie of our societal complacence and complicity. I’m not sure how much hope to hold out for a cultural sea change, though. For every new tale I hear, I find myself unsurprised. Worse, I tend to feel cynical and bitter when I realize how quickly half of the audience at any given time leaps to conclusions about someone and it seems driven by partisan biases. How quickly we believe GOP Ahole did it! No! I can’t *believe* our guy did it! He should resign! He should stay! Flip the script and it still works. Both partisan teams pointing the hypocrite finger at each other.

I’m all for fixing our prosecutorial and judicial systems such that women (and other assaulted people) actually stand a chance of seeing justice. Hell, I’m all for ending our national backlog of untested rape kits. I’m for disbarring attorneys who insist on trotting out “past as character” regarding the crime of now against the maybe-libertinous accuser. Her morals aren’t on trial.

That said, I’m also very cautious about rushes to judgment on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. I don’t know how to solve that. In the absence of hard evidence or at least sufficient corroborating evidence, we can all too often be left with a case of they-said/they-said and a verdict depends more on a sympathetic attacker or victim, the right amount of charismatic/slimy attorney, and a jury rendering a decision on the merit of feelings. I can think of no other crime I’d want judged on that basis. Then again, I count rape as worse than murder. But I waffle on assault. There’s something to the idea of adding degrees to the charges that appeals to me. Bush the Elder might be a dirty old man who needs something just short of a cruel and unusual punishment for his butt grabs, and I’ll make no excuses for that reprehensible behavior, but that’s a far cry from Trump’s pussy grabs, which may or may not be a far cry from a hand up the skirt assault on a crowded subway where’s there’s not even the merest whiff of “groupie behavior” plausible deniability that some on Trump’s side like to play, because attendance is supposed to be tacit consent. I’m troubled by that because there are very subjective lines drawn around the whole notion of tacit consent. Go to a nightclub and you’ll find any number of women strangers dirty dancing on someone’s knee, and any number of men strangers dirty dancing on some lady’s backside…without securing prior consent. Consent is after the fact and often compromised by intoxication. If she looks behind and keeps bumping and grinding, that’s consent after the fact, right? If she looks behind and decides the guy is a creep, then it’s assault. Wasn’t it assault before she looked? Could I just go up to a lady on a crowded subway and grind against her backside without it being assault? That would be never be acceptable, but we collectively have a comfort zone for all manner of exclusions to that, but it seems to be issues and partisanship driven. Can you imagine what would happen to a discussion of LGBTQ+ issues if we took every butt-grinding dirty dancer to task for assault because they didn’t get prior consent because somehow “presence is tacit consent?” Political sacred cow. Can’t touch that. Have that same discussion about a honky-tonk, and that might be okay.

Last, but not least, while I’m glad for the accusers who find the groundswell of support empowering such that they can finally come out and tell their side of things, I’m getting mighty damned sick of the “oh, we heard about it, knew about it, didn’t believe it then, but we do now and apologize” crowd and their simpering apologies in the press like somehow they also get 15 minutes of fame for belatedly realizing they were assholes 20 years ago for not taking claims of rape and assault seriously. If someone’s moral compass takes 20 years to ripen on the issue of rape, I think that person is broken.


I dunno. It usually doesn’t take very long for the quo to get back to status. Anyone remember Occupy? How’d that work out? This is perhaps broader, yes, but I have yet to see a single man come forward and say “I was wrong, what I did was bad etc” without first being called out. If that starts happening, then perhaps I’ll feel a bit more optimistic, but until then, I’ll reserve judgment.

And YES on Kaepernick. I want him to be a California resident and run against Feinstein in the Democratic primary. And win.


The more important area where this is starting to come out is Tech … a few big scalps just recently in the hacker fraternity (all – I know this will seem way-out – close mates with a certain wikileaks fellow) …

Occupy, etc didn’t have a specific ‘bad guy’, but Donald Trump is almost a cartoon villain. He’s ideal as a locus of discontent …

Maybe it won’t sustain, but my experience is different. Apartheid did end and it was ordinary people what done it in.

Dan Ryan

Ooooh, Bob, I like this idea. I’d vote for him. Feinstein hasn’t been the shining legislative beacon of compassionate liberal legislative values she once was for a LONG time.

Yet I keep voting for her because she’s always the only so-called liberal democrat choice I have.


Back during the 2008 campaign I predicted this moment. Sorta. Except I completely whiffed on the timing and most of the details.

I said Obama’s win would force the racists out into the open and that it was a good thing. It’s easier to beat a foe you can see.

I was right in saying a negro in the White House would activate the white supremacists. But wrong because they didn’t take to the streets right away. We had the “civil rights quiet patch” Gavin talks about earlier. Instead, the white-hood gang spent eight years festering while their better-dressed political allies honed the art of code and dogwhistling to a science. The GOP meme-machine made 1984 seem like Winnie the Pooh by comparison.

Then along came Trump, who despite being born with a silver spoon up his ass actually is, as our old friend Otherwise observed in an email recently, one of them. It’s like the babies got switched in the hospital and the Drumpf family wound up with the greasy spawn of some inbred slack-jawed yokels from the woods outside Dogpatch.

He made clear he was going to make America white again. Let the pussy-grabbing begin. And now, finally, we have the uprising I predicted, only eight years late. And the most maddening thing about it is that DNC ineptitude and corruption made it possible to talk about “economic anxiety” with a straight face.