Who Could Have Seen this Coming? (Trump and Racial Politics Edition)

Who could have predicted we would be where we are at the moment in terms of racial politics and the White House?

Trump Shrug 2Via The Hill:  The Memo: GOP fears damage done by Trump

As a week dominated by President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., draws to a close, many Republicans are worried that serious damage has been done to their party.

Specifically, they argue that Trump may have set back by years efforts to make the GOP more appealing to an increasingly diverse American electorate.

[…]

“It’s terribly frustrating,” said Heye, who added that it would be incorrect to view the damage as confined to black or Latino voters. There are plenty of white people who find such a stance unpalatable, he suggested.

Republicans fear Trump’s comments are  ”turning off a broad swath of voters” he said. “It’s obviously off-putting to minority voters — but not just minority voters.”

Really, who could have seen this coming?  After all, his first major foray in national politics was as a rational, evidence-based advocate for birtherism.

And then, he launched his candidacy with this this eloquence:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Not to mention his nuanced, and not at all fear-mongering stance on Muslim entry into the US during the campaign:

Donald J. Trump called on Monday for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure out what is going on” after the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., an extraordinary escalation of rhetoric aimed at voters’ fears about members of the Islamic faith.

A prohibition of Muslims – an unprecedented proposal by a leading American presidential candidate, and an idea more typically associated with hate groups – reflects a progression of mistrust that is rooted in ideology as much as politics.

Mr. Trump, who in September declared “I love the Muslims,” turned sharply against them after the Paris terrorist attacks, calling for a database to track Muslims in America and repeating discredited rumors that thousands of Muslims celebrated in New Jersey on 9/11. His poll numbers rose largely as a result, until a setback in Iowa on Monday morning. Hours later Mr. Trump called for the ban, fitting his pattern of making stunning comments when his lead in the Republican presidential field appears in jeopardy.

Saying that “hatred” among many Muslims for Americans is “beyond comprehension,” Mr. Trump said in a statement that the United States needed to confront “where this hatred comes from and why.”

“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Mr. Trump said.

And, certainly, the comity of his supporters was always stellar:*

For that matter, who could forget Trump’s outreach to African-Americans and Hispanics?

“Our government has totally failed our African American friends, our Hispanic friends and the people of our country. Period,” Trump said in Akron, Ohio, straying from the prepared remarks the campaign provided to reporters. “The Democrats have failed completely in the inner cities. For those hurting the most who have been failed and failed by their politician — year after year, failure after failure, worse numbers after worse numbers. Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing, no homes, no ownership. Crime at levels that nobody has seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats. And I ask you this, I ask you this — crime, all of the problems — to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people: What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out. I’ll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?”

And let’s not forget the stirring rhetoric of his inaugural:

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

Then, when in office, who could forget the stellar records on racial harmony from Trump advisers such as (the recently departed) Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka?

So, really, who could have predicted we would be where we are at the moment in terms of racial politics and the White House?

____

*On the one hand, it is not fair to judge a candidate, or his supporters by one action of one person.  However, Trump encouraged this kind of behavior on numerous occasions.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Race and Politics, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When you ride the tiger, sooner or later it eats you. The GOP is getting everything their corrupt little hearts deserve.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    People do not know how to think. In our heads we have the world’s most sophisticated computer, still infinitely superior to anything that’s come out of Silicon Valley. But we don’t know a tenth as much about using our on-board supercomputer as we know about hacks for Angry Birds.

    People fill their brains with junk food, with whatever gives them a sugar rush. They make no effort – none, ever, at any point – to drag out their old assumptions and see whether they’re still valid. Once a databit is in the brain, it stays there forever, creating more and more connections until the initial assumption, that first bit of data, is impossible to question let alone dislodge.

    We could teach philosophy, especially some simplified notion of epistemology, but we can’t because philosophy questions religion. Christians, Muslims and Jews will unite to resist any effort to teach people how to use their brains. Epistemology is verboten where ‘holy books’ are involved.

    The underlying flaw in our mental programs is religion. That’s where we teach children not to believe the evidence of their senses and to ignore logic. Religion is the original virus that subverts the brain’s capacity for questioning. Religion is where we teach children not to question but merely to accept. It is no coincidence that Trump’s support closely tracks the more primitive iterations of Christianity.

    We don’t even approach the question of how to use a human brain until college. At that point students divide into those who ignore the sudden ‘college reveal’ and those who overreact to it. This leads us to right-wingers reacting hysterically to a more nuanced reality on the one hand, and left-wingers suddenly discovering the existence of hypocrisy and then insisting on telling us all about it.

    If we want adults to be able to use their brains we have to start the teaching in school. College is too late.

  3. Gustopher says:

    Specifically, they argue that Trump may have set back by years efforts to make the GOP more appealing to an increasingly diverse American electorate.

    Yes, the GOP efforts to appeal to minorities… in between the various racist statements and the vote suppression, they did prop up any black conservative no matter how unqualified (Herman Cain, Ben Carson) and keep telling the blacks to get off the democrat plantation*.

    Trump is a symptom, not the problem. But, perhaps, now that the symptoms are this bad, the Republicans are going to try something else.

    (*ok, that’s another racist statement, but it might be the clueless racist rather than the malevolent racist.)

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Gee, doing a “both sides are equally to blame” when one side is the KKK and the Nazis somehow manages to piss off a lot of people.

    And the GOP is “surprised”.

  5. Argon says:

    “Southern Strategy”

    Mic drop.

  6. CSK says:

    Trump was endorsed by Stormfront, the American Nazi Party, and supported during his campaign by the Klan. After his remarks on Tuesday, the Daily Stormer heaped praise on him, concluding its editorial with the words: “God bless President Trump.”

    What else does one need to know?

  7. DrDaveT says:

    many Republicans are worried that serious damage has been done to their party

    No. They are worried that serious damage has been done to their party’s image, its brand, its pose. The actual damage to the party, to its ethos and raison d’etre, was done long ago. What Trump has done that is so horrifying to them is to strip off the makeup that has been covering up the fester underneath.

    All right, Mr. DeMille, they’re ready for their close-up.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: Michael, I wish it were so simple. But personally, I think religion in and of itself doesn’t really have much of an influence either way. The effects you mention are primarily group effects, and occur in any group that people passionately align themselves with. We have religious identities but we also have nationalist (USA! USA!), ethnic (the Serbian Orthodox Christians, regional (the former Confederate states), racial, and even sports (English football thugs). People, as a whole, want their groups to have a clearly defined boundary and a simple and all pervasive message. They don’t want to hear that things are complicated and so they follow the leaders that give them a clear and distinct message and never complicate it.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I think people have to be taught to ignore reality. Once taught to ignore reality they are prepared psychologically to accept lies. It becomes a group effect only after you assemble a sufficiently large number of people prepared to believe nonsense.

    Try getting together a group of people who think they can walk through walls. Can’t do it, because the physical reality of walls is impossible to ignore. Try putting together a group who believe in unicorns, and you get a slightly larger group because a belief in unicorns is a belief in what does not exist (identical to belief in God) and you don’t have that hard, undeniable wall to act as a counter.

    Primitive people who lack rational explanations for phenomena – rustling trees, inexplicable noises, unexpected results – invent supernatural explanations. But we are not those primitive people, we have rational explanations for most phenomena. So it takes an effort of will (individual or societal) to actively push back against rational explanations. “No, the sun doesn’t rise because the earth revolves, it rises because Jesus wears shiny boots and walks across the sky.”

    The connection between people trained by religion to actively reject rationality and say, climate change denial, is obvious. Once people are trained to believe that observation, reason and logic can be dismissed at will, you end up with people electing a carnival barker as POTUS because: magic!

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: There is a continuum in all things related to humans, but FWIW I think more people arrive into the world with an “ignore reality” bent and would benefit from being trained out of it.

    I like to think I’m a very rational thinker. I’ve been trained as an engineer for my whole adult life and have spent many thousands of hours debugging. And still, when there is something especially difficult to track down and I just can’t find it, a little voice inside me starts saying, “You will never find it. The machine just hates you.”

  11. teve tory says:

    Who could have seen this coming? I seem to remember some grandma last year warning us about some deplorable people. She was right. They are deplorable.

  12. teve tory says:

    Yes, the GOP efforts to appeal to minorities… in between the various racist statements and the vote suppression, they did prop up any black conservative no matter how unqualified (Herman Cain, Ben Carson) and keep telling the blacks to get off the democrat plantation*.

    Lately I’ve been seeing “But the Democrats Started The KKK!!!!111” idiocy. Once, I saw it tweeted to Mario Batali. Batali’s reply: “Wake up, dude, it’s 2017.”

  13. teve tory says:

    @michael reynolds: Couldn’t belief in religion be an example of our tendency to believe in silly things as long as they make us feel good, rather than the cause?

  14. teve tory says:

    A GOP strategist working campaigns in red and purple states said that while support for Trump generally declined slightly since Charlottesville, support rose among his base

    Because they are deplorable shitheads.

  15. @teve tory:

    Lately I’ve been seeing “But the Democrats Started The KKK!!!!111” idiocy

    I have noticed a significant uptick in that the last several days as well.

  16. Monala says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Along with, “Hillary Clinton once kissed Robert Byrd on the cheek!” (Seems they forget such Christian notions as repentance and forgiveness when it suits them.)

  17. Barry says:

    A correction – IMHO, Trump started his campaign with Birtherism, long before 2015-6.

  18. An Interested Party says:

    The so-called party of personal responsibility has a very difficult time taking responsibility for anything…of course, this shouldn’t be surprising, as the GOP often says one thing but does another, like “The Contract With America” or “Make America Great Again” among so much other bull$hit…

  19. @Barry: Indeed. I noted this:

    Really, who could have seen this coming? After all, his first major foray in national politics was as a rational, evidence-based advocate for birtherism.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory: @Steven L. Taylor: @Monala: See my conversation from a few days ago with JKB, in which he seemed to be praising the GOP for winning the neo-Confederate vote while simultaneously attacking the Democratic Party for its pro-segregationist past–as if the neo-Confederates and the segregationists were two separate groups, the first praiseworthy, the second not so much. I don’t think this argument comes out of nowhere; it’s very likely the exact propaganda coming from the universe of Fox, talk radio, Breitbart, and so on. They’ve created an alternate reality in which the Lost Cause has got nothing to do with racism, and yet the Dems are still tainted by the racism coming from the region of the Lost Cause, a region that is now solidly Republican. The hoops they must jump through to maintain this alternate reality are a wonder to behold.

  21. @Kylopod: Indeed. It is so weird: “Dems created the KKK!” is clearly an attempt to associate the Dems with something bad, i.e., the KKK, but there is no acknowledgement as to whom the KKK support NOW.

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “Dems created the KKK!” is clearly an attempt to associate the Dems with something bad

    No, it’s even stupider than that — it’s a claim of hypocrisy. Dems founded the KKK, now they’re against the KKK. Flip, flop. They clearly have no actual principles.

    As if “Democrats” has had some kind of fixed denotation over the last 150 years…

  23. @DrDaveT: It dumb compounded by dumb slathered in more dumb.

  24. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And don’t forget that it comes with a side of dumb and a bowl of dumb buckle for dessert

  25. teve tory says:

    No, it’s even stupider than that — it’s a claim of hypocrisy. Dems founded the KKK, now they’re against the KKK. Flip, flop. They clearly have no actual principles.

    We read different sources, I’m sure. In the places I’ve seen it, it’s not the hypocrisy. It’s “Democrats created the KKK so they’re racist not Trump and blacks should vote for us.”