A few days ago Jonathan Chait asserted that modern conservatism is "doomed" because it is "rooted in white supremacy." The first claim may or may not be true, but there's little doubt about the second. Whether it's the Senate minority leader claiming that America should have remained legally segregated, a beloved cultural figure fondly recalling how happy black people were living under lynch law, a presidential candidate calling Barack Obama a "food-stamp president" or a campaign surrogate calling Barack Obama "a subhuman mongrel," the preponderance of evidence shows that modern conservatism just can't quit white supremacy.Of course it isn't surprising. White supremacy is at the very foundation of Conservatism, and at thus at the foundation of the Republican Party. This isn't a freak accident of some ideological disagreement. There are great number of people of color who agree with much of the conservative theories. Nor is it some class-based social result. There are plenty of poor Republicans who agree with Bundy.
This is unsurprising. White Supremacy is one of the most dominant forces in the history of American politics. In a democracy, it would be silly to expect it to go unexpressed. Thus anyone with a sense of American history should be equally unsurprised to discover that rugged individualist Cliven Bundy is the bearer of some very interesting theories.
Republicans will run from Bundy only because he says out loud what they really think. Some are better at discretion than Bundy, who is obviously too honest for good company. But make no mistake, he's not that far off from where the great majority of Republicans are. In fact, they'll be more offended by his manners than by the substance of what he says. They wouldnt be the first white folks to confuse racism with bad etiquette.
So lets all express some well deserved outrage at Bundy's comments. Free speech and all that. But think about the real racism at work here, which are not his opinions: that a heavily armed group of white people can openly disobey federal laws and court orders without consequence for 20 years under the threat of violence to law enforcement. Now imagine if blacks did the same thing. There's the REAL racism.