Corporate rule imposes a duopoly system in which one party is overtly white supremacist and the other party refuses to tackle racial oppression—but both pursue austerity and war.
While Donald Trump’s Republicans strive to maintain electoral majorities through blatant appeals to white supremacy and constant scapegoating of Blacks and browns, corporate Democrats masquerade as the sensible political “center,” around which most Americans—except for small, “polarizing” minorities at the extremes of the spectrum—can unite. The latest corporate attempt to paper over the nation’s class and race contradictions was launched earlier this month by an outfit called More in Common, which works closely with corporate media and think tanks in the U.S. and Europe. Its new report, titled “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape,” is an attempt to obscure the racism that animates majorities of white voters and to erase Black politics, entirely.
The More in Common study claims to have discovered seven “tribes” of political belief and behavior that comprise the American spectrum. None of these tribes revolve around race and class, yet, according to the authors, they each possess “distinctive beliefs, psychology and levels of engagement.” The villains of this imagined tribal order, arrayed at opposite ends of the study’s poles, are Progressive Activists, who supposedly make up 8 percent of the population, and Devoted Conservatives, at 6 percent. “Although they comprise just 14% of the population, their voices dominate public debate in the digital age,” the More in Common folks lament. “They are more ideologically dogmatic, more hostile towards the other side, and more active in elections and on social media.” This is considered a very bad thing.
A national political consensus can supposedly be found among the middle groups: Traditional Liberals (11%), Passive Liberals (15%), Politically Disengaged (26%), Moderates (15%), and Traditional Conservatives (6%). When you subtract the disputatious and “highly ideological” Progressive Activist and Devoted Conservative “tribes,” according to the authors, “most Americans—including both liberals and conservatives—are actually more reasonable than people on the other side are made to think.” More in Common claims to have found that, once a person can be located among its seven previously “hidden” tribes “their views on a wide range of current issues could be predicted more accurately than by referring to their visible traits such as race, gender or income.”
This is utter nonsense, with no grounding in race, class, or history. Stark differences have long separated Blacks and whites on issues of living wages and union rights (Black women are the group most in favor of unions, white men the least); war and peace (Blacks are most opposed to U.S. military adventures abroad, whites most warlike, Hispanics in between, as usual); and the fairness of the criminal justice system, of which Blacks are near-universally skeptical.
Majorities of white people, across class and gender lines, voted for the virulently white supremacist Donald Trump—with Trump piling up supermajorities in the Deep South. The GOP has thrived as the White Man’s Party since 1968, supplanting the southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) precisely because white supremacy is the most dependable mass organizing principle for a rightwing corporate electoral party in the United States.
Race works like a charm for making white folks forget about class in the United States, which is why the moneyed classes have constructed a duopoly electoral system that gathers the most racist whites in one party, while Blacks and other despised peoples are corralled in the other corporate party—with both parties supporting global U.S. empire and warfare. Class has been effectively suppressed, except as racialized euphemisms and code words of American politics: “middle class,” meaning “hard working, salt-of-the-earth, patriotic white folks,” versus “the underclass,” signifying “predatory” and criminal Blacks and other darker people, who need to be kept under surveillance and containment.
The More in Common outfit would have us believe that most of the anger and rancor in the U.S. polity is caused by the 14 percent of the population described as Progressive Activists, on the left, and Devoted Conservatives, on the right, who are determined not to get along, and that an “exhausted majority” of 67 percent of the people are ready for “compromise” on most issues. This is in synch with the aims of leadership of the Democratic Party, dominated by Wall Street and the high-tech oligarchs in Silicon Valley. The party’s corporate leadership has no intention of yielding to demands for living wages, job security, single payer health care, and free universal college tuition, nor are they willing to lift the state of siege that has been imposed on Black America by the mass incarceration regime. The Democrats depend on the votes of Blacks and other minorities, and those whites that haven’t thrown in with Trump’s brand of white nationalism, but offer no programs that would substantially ameliorate deteriorating economic and social conditions—nothing but more austerity and war. Therefore, the political crisis must be blamed on strident voices of the “far left and far right”—like “Progressive Activists” and “Devoted Conservatives,” the political categories invented by the More in Common political conjurers. Race must be erased as a demographic marker, along with class, on the theory that if you don’t recognize racial and class conflicts, they will disappear.
Corporate Democrats believe they can attract enough disaffected Republicans to their side to make up for the leftish voters that abandoned the party in disgust. The More in Common study is designed to encourage such an alignment. It urges traditional “moderates” of both parties to unite and form an effective electoral majority from the “center.”
This is all about reinforcing the corporate “center,” which has been destabilized, not only by Donald Trump’s takeover of the GOP and surprise election victory, but most fundamentally by the collapse of wages and job security and the general demoralization caused by endless austerity and war—the core policies of both corporate parties. Americans must be made to reject the “extremes” if the corporate consensus is to be reestablished. But racial oppression cannot be tackled without massive, and expensive, transformations of society, requiring whole new layers of democratization. To the extent possible, therefore, race must be eliminated from the conversation (except to avow that America loves all races). The More in Common brand of race-less and classless social science, which claims to more accurately describe Americans’ political views “than by referring to their visible traits such as race, gender or income,” is a perfect tool for corporate consensus-makers. The rulers won’t have to do anything for anybody, because real demographics cease to exist.
The assault on “extremes of left and right” by the oligarchs that control the Internet—most of them Democrats—is another front in the escalating corporate war to reestablish the hegemony of the ideological “center” by purging those that cause “dissension” in society—with or without a Russian connection.
Corporate pollsters have already largely disappeared the Black demographic from their surveys, which nowadays often neglect to break down public opinion by race. Some surveys even lump all “minorities” together, despite the fact that Hispanic opinion is most often somewhere near middle of the chasm that separates whites and Blacks. This, in a nation whose currently ruling political party, controlling all three branches of government and most state legislatures, shouts its white supremacism to the world.
The result is a two-corporate party system in which half of the duopoly is overtly white supremacist while the other half appeals to most of the nation’s non-white voters but doesn’t have the vocabulary to even begin to discuss the dismantling of racial oppression.