Cry Havoc! And Unleash the Dogs of War at the Republican Convention?: Deconstructing Donald Trump’s Dog Whistles
In “Julius Caesar”, Shakespeare speaking in the character of Mark Antony warned about the looming civil war that is likely to paralyze Italy following the death of Caesar:
… And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;
Last week at the Republican Convention, Donald “I-alone-can-fix-it-messiah” Trump raged for revenge and cried Havoc!
Blowhard Trump blew his dog whistle loudly as he accepted his coronation to become the Republican Party’s presidential candidate:
I am your voice.
I have a message for all of you:
The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life.
The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon — and I mean very soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.
The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total of 2015.
[Illegal immigrants] are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.
Our trade deficit is $800 hundred billion dollars. Think of that. $800 billion last year alone. We will fix that.
The budget is no better. President Obama has almost doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing.
Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in third world condition.
In Libya, our consulate, the symbol of American prestige around the globe was brought down in flames.
America is far less safe and the world is far less stable than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America’s foreign policy.
This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: Death, destruction and terrorism and weakness.
“I am your voice,” bellowed Trump.
Vox Trump, vox Dei, vox populi! (The voice of Trump is the voice of God is the voice of the people!)
In his convention speech in Cleveland, Trump declared his war of words on the on the truth and facts, on the American Constitution, on decency even in dirty politics and on Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Trump declared a virtual civil war.
The battle cry at the Republican convention was lynch Hillary Clinton.
“Build the wall!” growled, howled and moaned the Trumpistas.
It was Apocalypse Now at the Republican Convention.
A Trump advisor and a New Hampshire state representative cried Havoc! and issued a death warrant to lynch “Hillary Clinton [who] should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.” He later added “As far as I’m concerned, it is treason and the penalty for treason is the firing squad ― or maybe it’s the electric chair now.”
“Brother” Ben Carson (a/k/a Dr. Clueless-‘bout-politics, the same guy who said, “Obamacare is the worst thing to happen to our country since slavery.”) came unhinged as he literally demonized Hillary Clinton.
Carson proclaimed Hillary is a follower of Saul Alinsky, the author of “a book called Rules for Radicals. On the dedication page, it acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom. So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?” (No! I don’t know on which planet in the Andromeda Galaxy Carson spends most of his time when he is not dabbling in voodoo Republican politics.)
Saul Alinsky is the legendary community organizer who in the post-WW II period worked to improve conditions in the African-American ghettos and poor communities from Chicago to N.Y. City to Los Angeles.
Alinsky’s path breaking book “Rules for Radicals” is regarded as the “bible for community organizing”.
The late conservative intellectual icon William Buckley (the man singularly responsible for laying groundwork for the new American conservatism) once described Alinsky as “twice formidable, and very close to being an organizational genius.”
Obviously, Carson was trying in his cluelessly inimitable way to characterize Hillary Clinton as a she-devil, a radical American Jezebel.
The list of Republican “leaders” (I did not say repub-lunatics) calling for the tarring and feathering of Hillary included the gourmand N.J. governor Chris Christie who frothed at the mouth criminalizing, dehumanizing and demonizing Hillary Clinton on behalf of the “law and order candidate”.
Christie belched out, “In Syria and Libya: guilty. In China and Syria: guilty. And here at home for risking America’s secrets to keep her own.”
The Trump-aryans at the Convention were frothing at the mouth bow-wowing “Havoc!”: “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”
Iowa Republican representative Steve King waxed eloquent on white supremacy and the singular contribution of white people to human civilization to the exclusion of all others: “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization [than white people]?”
Truth be told, Trump’s vilification victims were not merely foes from the other party and sundry minorities. Trump did not spare his republican brethren who refused to endorse or publicly support him. Trump berated Ohio Governor John Kasich and other party leaders, senators and governors who were no-shows at the Convention and the “dump Trump” delegates. After the Convention, Trump regretted not having the delegates “rip” Cruz “off the stage.”
Was the 2016 Republican Convention Trump’s call to arms for a second American civil war?
Is Trump trying to provoke an ethnio-religious and race war with his inflammatory lies about “taking our country back” from African Americans, Muslima, Jews, immigrants, women, labor unions and other Untermenschen in his presidential bid?
Trump’s dog whistles were about an apocalyptic America that is in the process of total self-destruction.
From the day Trump declared his candidacy, he has been talking about death and destruction in America:
We got $18 trillion in debt. We got nothing but problems … We’re dying. We’re dying. We need money … We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain … The American dream is dead.
For months, Trump has been plying his dog whistle politics but he is only the latest presidential candidate to do so.
For over four decades, the Republican Party has been played dog whistle politics. They have been promising to enforce “law and order” (code for crackdown on African Americans). They have been pledging to “dismantle the new deal state” (code for significantly cutting back Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and eliminating Obama Care) and “cut taxes” (code for using government to enrich the already fabulously rich). They have ranted and raved against “illegal aliens” (code for immigrants, especially Latinos, as criminals) and more recently vowed to fight against “Sharia law” (code to arouse fear of Muslim people spreading terrorism).
Ronald Reagan used the imagery of the “welfare queen” to depict poor black women sucking the social welfare system dry.
In 1986, George H. W. Bush used the Willie Horton dog whistle (a black convict serving life for murder on furlough) tying Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis to the “revolving door” of the criminal justice system.
The Republican push for “voter identification” laws over the past few years has been all about keeping poor African Americans and Hispanics from voting. Just this past week Republicans in Virginia sued Democrat Governor Terry McCauliffe for exercising his “clemency power en masse” restoring to former felons the right to vote.
There is little difference between the Republican dog whistles of yesteryears and Trump’s. The only difference is Trump’s dog whistle has been heard and apparently embraced by a certain segment of the Republican Party which voted to make his the party’s presidential candidate.
Trump was precisely the charlatan demagogue H.L. Mencken warned us about in his book Notes on Democracy (1926) [an absolute must read for anyone interested in taking a hard look at American democracy]. Mencken warned Americans against the kind of empty-headed snake oil politician who would preach pseudo-patriotism “Make America Great Again!”
Nearly one hundred years ago, Mencken saw the trajectory of American presidential politics.
Mencken (the “sage of Baltimore”, the “Voltaire of America”) did not think much about American politicians or voters for that matter. He thought the American political process was populated in the main with quacks and charlatans. He believed American voters were easy prey for the demagogue “who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” Mencken observed that demagogues “not only know how to arouse the fears of the mob; they also know how to awaken its envy, its dislike of privilege, its hatred of its betters.”
Mencken had a cynical view of the American voter whom he believed had little interest in liberty and “is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. He longs for the warm, reassuring smell of the herd, and is willing to take the herdsman with it.” Consequently, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
In prophetic language Mencken observed, “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
One cannot imagine a greater moron than Donald Trump, a creature of make-believe reality television telling actors they are fired, potentially adorning the White House.
Donald Trump’s demagoguery of fear and smear, racism, xenophobia, misogyny and bold-faced lies in his acceptance speech confirm Mencken’s warning about the advent of the moron American president.
But Trump is a dangerous demagogic moron. He clothes his racism with “populism”. But he is quintessentially a neo-fascist. He talks about an America in crises and decline, a dystopia ridden by crime, violence and poverty. He wants to convince Americans that America is Apocalypse Now.
Trump reverberates neo-fascist propaganda in his bogus and exaggerated claims of an America humiliated on the international scene, his glorification of American imperial power and violent domination of the world, his promised crackdown on racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants and contempt for constitutional government. Trump wants to channel racial, ethnic and religious hatred into a political campaign and program in his efforts to ascend to the presidency.
Trump’s solution to an apocalyptic America is to issue a proclamation and promise “to all Americans tonight, in all our cities and towns: “We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again!”
To advance his neo-fascist campaign, Trump has followed Joseph Goebbels’ prescription to the letter:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
The big question now is whether a real live moron will adorn the White House in 2016.
The big question now is whether a 229-year old constitutional government can weather threat of a neo-fascist moron adorning the White House.
Mencken had a ready answer for that:
No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.
In other words, “no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”
Mencken explained, “The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand, and even, in many cases, to read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads, and an appetite for more. This assumption is a folly.”
Who can save the American people from the Trump Folly?
Hillary Clinton, of course!
Save the last great hope of humanity from Trumpinsanity!
 Dog whistle political messaging involves the use of “coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.”