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LETTER: From Brown v Board-of-Education to Trump

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To the Editor:

Long before the Tea Party genesis, the 1955 SCOTUS ruled that non-white students must be accepted in all American public schools. That ruling ignited numerous movements. People objected to having taxes go for services about which they had no say and for which they received no benefit. Where such libertarian beliefs were foundational, leaders of individual groups kicked around possible names for themselves. They came up with the word "conservatives," though it's unclear what is being conserved.

Fast forward to 2010. Investigative journalist Jane Mayer alerted Americans to the fact that the Charles Koch conservative network was pouring more than $100 million into campaigns against Obama initiatives. Mayer also reported vast quantities of dark money were being given to state campaigns for the purpose of hobbling unions, limiting voting, deregulating corporations, denying climate change and, finally, for shifting more of the tax burdens to lower-income people.

The most ingenious action by the Koch network that year was to take ownership of the Tea Party's message of hate towards Obama's allowing troubled black homeowners to renegotiate their mortgages. To Tea Partiers, blacks and Obama had overreached. Signs were going up everywhere: government was still the problem; ordinary Americans were taxed enough already. The Koch stable had acquired a horse named Hate. Americans rushed to the polls to blame Democrats for the mortgage default disaster that Republicans had worked for decades to create. In 2014, Republicans rode Hate again and, once again, won big. The GOP had become a mighty engine by embracing fears that white America, straight America, Christian America was under threat from an insurgent wave of brown invaders.

Now, however, it's clear that fueling a machine with outrage must be fed increasingly higher octanes to voters. In 2016, Donald Trump rustled the horse named Hate from the Koch barn. Duke University Historian, Nancy MacLean, opines that the evolved GOP isn't about policy. It's about owning people. No compromise is permitted across the aisle. She points out that old line Republicans are blasted as Rinos if they show signs of getting out-of-step with the new leadership.

Dave L. Wegner

Sioux Falls