Donald Trump is the monster that white America created, because many people agree with what he has to say. After all, the presidential candidate could not have lasted this long without widespread support.
You cannot separate the man from his message. And his message of hate resonates with a lot of white Americans. Trump’s consistent placement at the top of the field of Republican presidential candidates is a testament to the appeal he makes to racism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia. In other words, Trump succeeds because of — not in spite of — his race baiting. PBS host and commentator Tavis Smiley brought the point home on his recent appearance on ABC’s This Week:
What troubles me, though, is that Trump is still, to my mind, at least, an unrepentant, irascible religious and racial arsonist.
And so what about how Donald Trump is rising in the polls. He can’t do that absent the kind of campaign he’s running, the issues that he’s raising. And for us to just say Donald Trump is rising in the polls and not connect that to the base message that he’s putting out there, I think…
As Mediaite reported, Trump responded by calling the Black commentator a racist. By the way, this is a typical tactic used by white detractors when called out on their racism.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2016
Meanwhile, Trump is the Great White Hope of the Republican Party and white supremacists who want to “take their country back,” “make America great again,” and all of those platitudes that act as stand-ins for maintaining white privilege. As TPM reported, a white nationalist super PAC (you did not misread that) called American National Super PAC plans to blanket Iowa and New Hampshire with robocalls.
“Whether he is elected or not, his candidacy is a big factor in helping destroy this middle-of-the-road Republican mindset,” said William Daniel Johnson, chairman of the American Freedom Party and founder of the American National Super PAC. The following is the full text of a robocall sent to Iowa voters:
“The American National Super PAC makes this call to support Donald Trump.
‘My name is Reverend Ronald Tan, host of the Christian radio talk show program For God and Country. First Corinthians states: God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise and God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. For the Iowa caucuses, please support Donald Trump. He is courageous and he speaks his mind. God Bless.’
‘I’m Jared Taylor with American Renaissance. I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America. We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.’
‘I am William Johnson, a farmer and a white nationalist. Support Donald Trump. I paid for this through the super PAC. [Telephone] (213) 718-3908. This call is not authorized by Donald Trump.'”
This comes as the mainstream media treat the businessman and reality show host-turned-politician like a celebrity, with invitations to appear on news programs and the late-night talk-show circuit. Donald Trump means ratings, and the media, at first reacting to him as a curiosity and a form of entertainment, appears to take him seriously. And at the current trajectory, he is poised to become the GOP nominee for president.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party establishment—having failed with Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and their other empty-suit, milquetoast, corporate-shill spokespeople—shake their heads in confusion, asking what they must do to derail the Trump train. Well, the answer is staring them in the face, but they won’t like it, because it would force them to re-examine and reject the “Southern Strategy” that has handed them electoral victories for 40 years. And as we know, horrible habits are not easily shed.
After all, the Republican Party has pursued a policy of attracting angry white folks for years, harvesting their racial resentment over Black people and the gains of the civil rights movement, and channeling that negative energy into hatred of taxes and government programs. This is how the GOP won over the South from the Democrats. The only difference was that Republicans tended to seal the deal through racially coded language and “dog-whistle” politics. Then came the ascent of the Tea Party and Birther movements, the further exodus of party moderates, and the more explicit targeting of the “other” in the form of Obama, depicting him as their foreign, Muslim, Kenyan-born boogeyman of an enemy. Trump is even more blatant and confrontational through an unfiltered, direct appeal to poor, uneducated whites and an express campaign of white-skin solidarity and racial nationalism.
Trump accomplishes the GOP endgame, but with a slight variation on the methods. Winks and nods to racism now become the outright targeting of Black and Brown people and calls for their marginalization and expulsion. And yet, for the Republican Party elders to call the candidate out on his racism is like the hood calling the sheets white.