Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is set to retire from Congress in January of next year, so you've probably been wondering: Who is going to replace her in the House of Representatives' Nativist Crank Caucus, alongside Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Louis Gohmert (R-Texas). Well, after this week, it seems that the answer is much clearer. It's going to be Rep. Morris "Mo" Brooks, Republican from Alabama's 5th District. Welcome, Mo!
Brooks very firmly cemented his nativist crankery bona fides this week with this gorgeous rhetorical fillip:
"This is a part of the war on whites that's being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they're launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else," he said during an interview Monday with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. "It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well, that's not true."
As Jonathan Chait notes, this whole "war on whites" thing is, at first blush, conceptually incoherent:
On the surface, you might find it silly to imagine that the Democrats would antagonize the majority segment of the American public. Democrats definitely need white people (whites supplied 56 percent of Barack Obama's vote in 2012; nonwhites supplied just 11 percent of Mitt Romney's votes). White people have other uses for Democrats, like providing campaign donations, filling cabinet roles and Congressional seats, and so on. From a pure strategic standpoint, launching a war on white people would seem like a bad idea.
"A little out there" is how Ingraham herself characterized the notion. But perhaps we need a deeper-level explanation of how this "war on whites" actually works. As a white person, perhaps I can offer some insight.
See, the fundamental issue at the heart of a perceived "war on whites" has little to do with voting blocs or any particular behavior. The "war on whites" begins, conceptually, by imagining the benefits of a political system as finite in quantity, meted out as part of a zero-sum game. That is to say, no hypothetical benefit flowing outward to one political constituency does not simultaneously deprive another constituency of a similar benefit. In this worldview, the extension of, say, access to health insurance to citizens who did not previously have it does not result in positive outcomes for society as a whole. Rather, it is theft. (And then probably "The Road To Serfdom," because this worldview is steeped in college sophomore arcana.)
Let me further whitesplain the "War On Whites" with a metaphor. Imagine, if you will, there is all this cake. Just mountains of never-ending cake! And there's all these white people, cold chowing down on the cake. "Yum, yum," say the white people, as they shovel cake into their gullets, "this is some bomb-ass cake, yes sir." And then suddenly they see, across the street, some black guy, or maybe he is Asian, or a woman or something, and that person makes a friendly wave to the white people and says, "You guys, this cake is totally delicious!" And the Mo Brookses of the world go white (ha-ha) with rage! Sure, there is a lot of cake left, and the white people are full and can't possibly eat any more, but that one slice of cake that the black guy ate (or maybe he or she is Hispanic, it really doesn't matter in this metaphor) could have been eaten by a white person. That's the "War On Whites."
(And yes, a lot of working-class white people have been so badly conned by grifters or politicians or corporations or interest groups that they don't have the same access to said cake, but that is not a "War On Whites." That describes the "class war," which working-class people of all races and creeds have lost, permanently and decisively.)
By articulating this vision, Brooks has probably sealed his spot in the "America's Next Top Nativist Crank" finals. But Brooks has been doing enough to impress the judges in the preliminary rounds. To wit:
-- Back in July of 2011, Brooks told WHNT-TV in Alabama that he would "do anything short of shooting" undocumented immigrants. (Which technically makes Brooks a "RINO.")
-- A day later, Brooks said that he was "not going to back off" his whole, "anything short of shooting" people stance "because these folks want to resort to name-calling." (He was referring to remarks made by Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), who had suggested that "referencing acts of violence has no place in the discussion for realistic solutions to our country's immigration problems," and that Brooks was "irresponsible," "hateful" and "dehumanizing" for having done so.)
-- In November of 2011, Brooks was ecstatic about how Alabama's newly enacted immigration laws had led Latino parents to pull their kids from school: "Illegal aliens are continuing to leave Alabama -- not as fast as we would want, not as many as we would want -- but still they’re leaving and it makes us happy." Decidedly not happy were Alabama farmers, whose businesses were negatively impacted after Brooks' "now Americans will take these jobs" theory didn't pan out.
-- In July of 2014, Brooks offered up some back-of-the-envelope math on the cost of deporting "illegal alien children." "For example, there are reportedly roughly 50,000 illegal alien children who have recently entered the United States. At $500 per ticket per illegal alien child, they could all be flown commercial air back to their parents at a total taxpayer cost of $25 million, even less if military air transport is used." (According to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the true cost of deporting an undocumented immigrant is approximately $12,500.)
-- On Aug. 1, Brooks told MSNBC's Chris Hayes that "all 500,000 Dreamers" and the 8 million undocumented immigrants currently holding jobs should be deported immediately. (Brooks apparently did not make note of the fact that his own optimistic back-of-the-envelope estimates were now approaching a total of $4.25 billion.)
-- And via Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski, today we have Brooks offering his opinion on why the ENLIST Act, which would offer undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship by joining the U.S. Armed Services and putting their lives on the line for the United States, is a bad idea: "These individuals have to be absolutely 100 percent loyal and trustworthy, as best as we can make them, 'cause they're gonna have access to all sorts of military weaponry -- even to the point of having access to weapons of mass destruction like our nuclear arsenal. And I'm gonna have much greater faith in the loyalty of an American citizen than someone who is a citizen of a foreign nation."
I don't think that one gets the keys to our ICBMs as soon as one gets out of basic training, but I'm a lover, not a fighter, and Brooks is ostensibly the guy who knows how the government works, so I guess we should take his word for it.
So Brooks is pretty uniquely positioned to fill Bachmann's spot more than adequately in the Nativist Crank Caucus. Why, if Brooks had some nutty anti-gay stuff in his portfolio, I doubt you'd miss Bachmann at all. (Oh, hey, here you go.)