“Parents,” “working class,” “Christians” - in the American political discourse, whenever such categories are used without any qualifier, they basically just mean “white.” Because “white” is still widely seen as normal, as the norm: as what really counts and defines the nation.
People are not necessarily doing it deliberately. When called out, Todd immediately concedes the point. But that only reinforces how pervasive this idea of “normal” America as *white America* still is in the collective imaginary: It just comes naturally to Chuck Todd.
This is important because it fundamentally structures the conversation. Just like @nhannahjones says, Todd’s framing privileges the interests and sensibilities of *white* parents by elevating them to the status of “regular” (read: justified, legitimate) parental concerns.
It also obscures the nature of the conflict by suggesting it’s a confrontation between parents on one side and intruding educators on the other, with some special-interest parents who are not “normal” Americans in the educators’ corner: separate at best, distortions at worst.
This assumption of a white “normal” still governs the American political and cultural discourse. Once we start paying attention to how it distorts the picture, we find it everywhere – the pervasive perpetuation of a political, social, and cultural hierarchy of white domination.
It’s obvious in the use of the term “working class,” for instance. Here is a particularly striking example, from one of the leading post-/anti-liberal intellectuals: “working class” is just white people with certain reactionary sensibilities; “everyone” is just whites.
The most ridiculous example of this is the attempt by Republicans to present themselves as the party of the working class. That’s entirely detached from the socio-economic reality of American society – unless, of course, you’re talking about white conservative America only.
But it’s not just conservatives doing it. In the collective white imaginary, the socio-economic dimension is almost entirely ignored - the term “working class” just refers to a type of professional occupation in combination with reactionary cultural sensibilities of white people.
Here, for instance, is sociologist James Davison Hunter in a PBS @NewsHour interview diagnosing a “class culture war”: America split into two camps, a progressive elite vs the conservative middle and working classes - which only makes sense if you imagine America as all white.
From this depiction, you would never understand why non-white working-class people or socially conservative Black people overwhelmingly align with those progressive “elites” and vote Democratic. Once again, the actual nature of the conflict is sanitized and obscured.
The hard-to-kill myth that it was “the working class” lifting Trump into the White House has the same effect: Just like that, supporting Trump has nothing to do with race, but is the manifestation of a legitimate gripe of those down there directed at the arrogant elite.
In general, the conventions of political terminology are often entirely in line with the self-description of white conservatives - not coincidentally creating and perpetuating the idea of “regular folks” as a clearly racialized category of specific political valence.
This serves to perpetuate one specific idea of what America should be: A nation of and for white Christians, in which white Christians count as the norm and get to define who does and does not belong, and where the interests and sensibilities of white Christians reign supreme.

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More from @tzimmer_history

30 Dec
I get the impulse to just ignore Marjorie Taylor Greene. And if what’s on display here were just the extremist nonsense of a fringe figure, it’d be best to do exactly that. This, however, isn’t just Greene’s extremism - it is increasingly that of the Republican Party itself.
The fact that the Republican Party embraces and elevates Greene and other extremists like her constitutes an acute danger to democracy. We can’t allow ourselves to become numb to how bizarre, how radical, how dangerous these developments are.
And let’s not be lulled into a false sense of security by the clownishness, the ridiculousness of it all. Some of history’s most successful authoritarians were considered goons and buffoons by their contemporaries - until they became goons and buffoons in power.
Read 4 tweets
28 Dec
Considered “alarmist” or, at the very least, highly unlikely by most observers even just a year ago.

America’s descent into authoritarianism has progressed at a much more rapid pace than almost anyone anticipated. We need to adjust our expectations accordingly. It is happening.
We need to grapple honestly with the fact that the Republican Party’s radicalization has outpaced what even most critical observers imagined, and we need to acknowledge that the reactionary counter-mobilization against democracy has actually accelerated in 2021.
Every time someone says “Nah, that’s not gonna happen - easy with the alarmism!” remind them of the many things that were deemed “alarmist” over the past few years, only to become reality soon thereafter - starting, of course, with the fact that Donald Trump did become president.
Read 6 tweets
27 Dec
A horrible thing indeed.

But it’s worth being specific: The forces that have come to dominate the GOP haven’t changed their mind about anything. Their acceptance of democracy was always conditional: “As long as it keeps people like us in power, fine; otherwise, it has to go.”
The distinction matters greatly. At the core of modern conservatism is a vision that is steadfastly opposed to multiracial, pluralistic democracy and committed to the order that was the historical norm in this country until quite recently: Democracy for white Christian men only.
Too many observers and pundits tend to base their analysis of the current situation on the assumption that the country used to be a functioning liberal democracy, with an electorate of (small-d) democratic voters, and that this has somehow changed just very recently.
Read 11 tweets
26 Dec
This is utter nonsense, of course, if you read it as an empirical claim about America’s past or present.

But as an ideological statement of Christian nationalism and white supremacy, it is perfect. And absolutely terrifying.
Just ignoring this won’t work, because it’s not coming from some rightwing troll, but a Republican elected official - and it’s impossible to adequately understand American politics without grappling in earnest with why her radicalism is widely seen as justified on the Right.
No use making fun of it either. This should be read as a statement of intent: “America belongs to us white Christians, we have a right to dominate this country, and we are determined to keep it that way by whatever means necessary.” Nothing funny about that.
Read 10 tweets
25 Dec
Completely agree - but due to the pervasive pathologies of journalistic and political culture, when they do take a look in the mirror, they’re likely to tell themselves “You are doing a great job by not giving in to ‘partisanship,’ and by staying ‘neutral’ and above the fray!”
…and considering the existing incentive structures in journalism and politics, they’re also likely looking at someone who - strictly in terms of advancing their own careers - is doing everything right. That needs to change.
The “neutrality” dogma demands this kind of coverage: As defined by too many journalists and political observers, it means keeping equidistance from #BothSides. But with the GOP rapidly radicalizing, the “neutral” position provides cover for extremism and leads to distortions.
Read 7 tweets
24 Dec
Calling Crenshaw a “stalwart conservative” is actually fine - because the type of disdain for democracy Crenshaw has displayed is well in line with the long-standing anti-democratic impulses and tendencies that have always defined modern U.S. conservatism.
This Politico piece is, of course, not at all interested in informing the audience about these anti-democratic traditions, and how Trump fits right in, and why Crenshaw doesn’t have to be a “Trump loyalist” to be on board with the authoritarian onslaught on democracy.
It does the exact opposite: Politico wants to cling to the myth of “respectable” conservatism so bad that they are happy to legitimize the sort of anti-democratic tendencies Crenshaw embodies. This kind of constant normalization in centrist media is a massive problem.
Read 5 tweets

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