Donald Trump has been pretending to run for president since 1988, but it took 21 years for him to act racist enough for conservatives to take him seriously.
In 2011, it was his birtherism.
In 2015, it’s him calling immigrants “rapists.”
Rather unsurprisingly, serious people want to pretend his appeal is built on anything other than race.
“A new Bloomberg Politics poll of Republican and Republican-leaning voters demolishes the claim that he appeals to mouth-breathing xenophobes and nobody else,” Bloomberg’s Joshua Green wrote. His argument is that Trump is leading with nearly all Republican demographics, without pointing out what the mouth-breathing xenophobe demographic is.
New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait and Reason‘s Peter Suderman both analyzed Trump’s appeal and ended up in similar places.
“His affect supplies his appeal — he is strong, mad, and, above all, unapologetic in a world that demands he apologize,” Chait wrote. “Trump is not the spokesman for an idea at all, but the representation of undifferentiated resentment.”
“Trump’s candidacy is what a refusal to engage with policy and its practical realities looks like when taken to an extreme,” Suderman wrote. “He is a mindless candidate for a party that for years has casually courted mindlessness, and is now faced with the worrying possibility that it might prevail.”
Chait at least acknowledges this: “Trump’s crude denunciation of Mexican immigrants as criminals made him the symbol of Republican nativism in the Latino community, yet this only enhanced his appeal.”
But that hasn’t enhanced his appeal. That is his appeal.
This is what happens in a GOP primary when you call immigrants “rapists:”
In contrast, here’s what happens when you try to be the driving force in passing immigration reform, distance yourself from reform then find yourself competing with a guy who calls immigrants “rapists:”
Trump is winning the GOP primary by moving the party right on immigration. It’s a slight variation on Mitt Romney and John McCain moving to the right on immigration to win the GOP nomination.
Republicans love Trump’s “policy” of deporting 30 kabillion undocumented immigrants — or however many he says there are now — and they don’t care if they have to turn America into a police state and waste half a trillion dollars to do it.
People want to make this about Trump’s willingness to “tell the truth.” What he’s really doing is feeding a movement that has been built on subtle race resentment some entirely unsubtle race resentment.
It’s not even close to the “truth.” The border is more secure than it’s been in most ways in decades, possibly ever.
“[Trump] avoids racial epithets and direct references to race, preferring to talk of immigration, nationality, and criminal behavior; these are, though, coded terms,” said Ian Haney López, the author of Dog Whistle Politics. “In fact, his basic message is a racial one: this is a white country, under threat from invading minorities.”
Don’t think these comments were about race? Macy’s did. NBC did. New York City did. The PGA did. NASCAR DID!
At the very least, Republicans are tolerant of the sort of inflammatory racial rhetoric that cost Trump millions in corporate partnerships.
Behind the anger, what Republicans fear is actually very rational — it’s a demographic tidal wave that sees 50,000 Latinos become voters each month. They fear this because they recognize at least on a unconscious level that their power is built on ginning up the fears of people who are dying out. The Great Backlash built on a Southern Strategy is due for a backlash of its own. And rather than adapt, they want to hunker down and turn all of America into a moated community.
Trump is the guy who says, “Yes, I will kick the rapists out and build you that moat.” And his willingness to offend the people they resent is all the proof he’ll do it that they need.
All demographics of the GOP buy it because this is what the conservative movement has been built on. And the danger of embracing Trump — as Bloomberg‘s Green wrote Wednesday, a day after his Trump’s supporters are not all mouth-breathers post — is that they’re finally admitting it.
[Image by Steve Jurvetson | Flickr]