Background Briefing: June 9, 2020


Trump’s Appropriation of Nixon’s 1968 “Silent Majority” Playbook Will Not Work in 2020

We begin with Trump’s appropriation of Nixon’s 1968 playbook declaring himself the “law and order” candidate and speak with Ian Haney Lopez, a Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley to assess whether it will work in 2020. The author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class and Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America, he joins us to discuss his article at The Los Angeles Times, “Trump can follow Nixon’s fear-driven playbook. But history says it won’t work in 2020”. With Trump’s campaign promoting a vision like Nixon’s of a country locked in a conflict between innocent white people and dangerous minorities, the difference this time is that the protests are multi-racial comprising a diverse spectrum of Americans. And while largely driven by the young, post-racial young whites are joining with their black, brown and Asian sisters and brothers to make a powerful political constituency that could vote Trump out in November.


Barr as a Right-Wing Culture Warrior Propping Up a Weak Strongman

Then we speak with Lloyd Green, the former opposition research counsel to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign who served in the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1992 when William Barr was the Attorney General. He joins us to discuss his article at The Guardian “America’s top cop is a right wing culture warrior who hates disorder. What could go wrong?” and point out that with an unqualified insurgent in the Oval Office compared to a seasoned professional like Bush Sr., Barr has accrued unusual power and influence as a skilled and smart operator who can prop up a weak strongman surrounded by sycophants and amateurs.

Defunding the Police and Eradicating the Culture of Impunity

Then finally Ekow Yankah, a Professor of Law at the Cardoza Law School and author of Good Guys and Bad Guys: Punishing Character, Equality and the Irrelevance of Moral Character to Criminal Punishment, joins us to investigate the possibility of defunding the police and enacting reforms to eradicate the culture of impunity and dominance in police forces. Since the whole world saw the live on-camera murder of an African-American George Floyd by a white policeman, we assess whether the model of policing in Camden, New Jersey where an entire corrupt force was fired and replaced by community-friendly officers resulting in a 50% drop in crime, could be replicated across America.