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I was surprised by the decision of the Missouri Farm Bureau to endorse our lackadaisical Attorney General Josh Hawley in his run for the U.S. Senate. You might be surprised by my attitude since the Farm Bureau has for some time been reliably Republican, a position practically dictated by the perceived competition between out-state (GOP) and urban (Democratic) interests. But it’s true.

Remember when our Attorney General and GOP senatorial contender Hawley first tried out a little lame trash talk trash about Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill? He called the down-to-earth Missouri Democrat, one of the few Missouri pols to hold town halls – even during the height of the raucous Tea Party anti-Obamacare frenzy – a phony who was out of touch with Missouri voters. Rich B.S. indeed, as we have shown in an earlier post, coming from an elite Washington lawyer who, according to emails to colleagues, only returned to Missouri in 2011 to enter politics.

But more important to the question at hand, are farmers likely to get anything out of Hawley that’s good for them? Consider the question of Trump’s mindlessly escalating trade war which has triggered massive agricultural tariffs: Not good for Missouri Farmers, especially in the long run since Trump doesn’t seem to know how to find a way out now that he’s escalated the hostilities.

McCaskill has the backbone to call Trump out on an an impulsive and sloppy approach to the issue. Hawley, on the other hand, resolutely sticks to vague GOP talking-around-the-issue-points. Despite the looming potential for disaster for many Missouri farmers – if not this year, next – Hawley will just “trust” that the attention-addled reality TV-star and failed construction mogul Trump knows what he’s doing when it comes to economic theory and all will work out before there are too many bankruptcies in that out-state Missouri that loves to hear GOPers tell it like (they think) it is.

Nor do these highly flexible folks, such as our prim little Josh Hawley seem to want to stand up for the principles that they espoused so fervently during the Obama years: you know, that stuff about bailouts – bailouts that, incidentally saved our auto industry and which were repaid. But hey, a $12 billion in one-year farm bailouts to be  handed out right after a budget-busting, deficit-building tax cut for the wealthy – no big deal to folks like Hawley – who doesn’t seem to care about much more than fighting the far-right religious wars and pushing conservative evangelical orthodoxy down the throats of the rest of us. How’s that for phony?

So why has the Farm Bureau decided to go with Republican comfort food? even though it could end up killing them? Don’t despair. I think I may understand just what the real appeal of GOP – and Josh Hawley – right or wrong, weak or strong, might be.

In an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch today on why so many Trump supporters voted against the anti-union Proposition A,  a union man – after praising the ways his union gave  him a good life – and apparently unaware of Trump’s bad history with unions –  justified his support for Trump and, presumably, anti-union Trump supporters like Hawley, by appealing to the demographic fears that the “good old days” of white privilege will disappear if too many of those brown folks make it over the southern border:

“I like what Trump is doing for the country, though I don’t agree on all of his policies,” [ Scott] Long said. “If you want to be a citizen, you shouldn’t just walk across the Southern California border. … I like how Trump wants to close the border down.”

And, even more explicitly:

Dennis Brinkler, a union electrician who voted against the legislation, also cited immigration as a reason he’s supporting Trump and state Attorney General Josh Hawley, an anti-union Republican who is challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, in November.

If you doubt that there’s an underlying racist theme there, the same article cited some union leaders who attributed union support for Republicans like Trump and Hawley explicitly to “protests of police shootings of unarmed black men” and fear of black protest against a repressive status quo:

“Some of the guys I represent in their 50s, it’s hard for them to grasp shutting down a highway because of an incident that may have happened with the police, and often that’s people on our side of the party,” White said, referring to protests in Ferguson after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer four years ago. “That’s hard for a lot of the old white guys to grasp.”

There you  have it. Trump’s calling card: playing on white resentment and the old folks’ racial fears.

And you can bet that the oh-so-educated and refined  Hawley is going along with it, helping to demagogue the thinly disguised racism of Trump’s immigration policies. As the St. Louis American put it after Hawley defended Trump’s cruel and ill-considered immigration policies, particularly the forcible separation of children from parents seeking asylum in the U.S., an undeniable human rights violation carried out so incompetently that many of the children cannot be reunited with the parents:

[…] Hawley backed and defended Trump’s political play of using the forcible separation of children from their families to force Democrats to support the construction of his absurd border wall and pursuit of more punitive immigration policies. Hawley should return to whatever rock he crawled out from under and leave it to actual human beings with blood in their veins to enact public policy. Hawley is a representation of a new generation of Republicans willing to accede the party and its values to the disaster of the Trump administration.

I expect Hawley’s – probably more timid – dog whistles will increase over the next couple of months as Big Daddy Trump gets even more explicit about  his overt racism. Sadly, it looks like lots of Missourians are inclined to be responsive

* 1st word in title changed from “whose” to “who’s” (8/18, 4:35). Thanks to comment noting the original error.