Donald Trump & white America’s anxiety: The political throes of a forgotten country
Liberals, don't kid yourselves: "The Donald" is not just a media creation. He's a tribune of our past—and future
By Elias Isquith
Besides a genius for self-promotion, what Trump has in common with those two men is this: He appeals to a large swathe of Americans who have not only lived through massive social disruption—the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement, respectfully—but who have had their fundamental assumptions about Americanness, and therefore themselves, challenged in the process. When his fans speak of “taking” their country back, they are not being tongue-in-cheek. They are deathly serious.
Although their complaints are often unsympathetic and their solutions are frequently barbarous, they are not exactly wrong. Republicans are, on the whole, older and whiter than Democrats. They’re also more religious, more discriminatory in their sexual mores (or at least their professed ones) and more likely to live in rural areas. For the vast majority of their lives, the American mainstream has been white, Christian and at least suburban, if not rural.
But it’s been 50 years since President Johnson liberalized U.S. immigration law, and the younger generations (Millennials and Generation X, especially) are different. They’re less white, less religious and less rural. They’re more supportive of big government in the economy and small government in the bedroom, too. The country that Trump’s supporters grew up in really is evaporating. And they’re coming to find that many of their basic assumptions of what it means to be a “real American” are no longer allowed.
Like Long and Wallace before him, what Trump offers these people is not only a return to a glorious past, but also a reassurance. Specifically, Trump’s vision of a nation purged of immigrants—both documented and otherwise—and cleansed of “political correctness” suggests to these voters that America-as-they-knew-it is not historically contingent. And that the transformation of the country was not an inevitability. He promises them, in effect, that they will not be so easily swept aside.
Donald Trump inaugurated a disturbing new era in politics, wherein dogwhistles have given way to overt racism
By Eesha Pandi
More than half of Trump’s stump speech is a finely tuned anti-immigrant screed about the importance of building a wall, and getting criminals out of the country. He picked a fight with Jorge Ramos, beloved reporter for Univision and American citizen, at a national press conference last week. After that exchange, one of Trump’s supporters threateningly told Ramos to “get out of my country.”
Under “Positions” on Trump’s campaign website, there is only one issue listed: immigration reform. He is the anti-immigration candidate, and he’s winning his party’s primary.
The rhetoric of the Trump campaign is bombastic. He touts how tough he’ll be on China, how his business success inoculates him from needing to trade favors with lobbyists, how he’ll be humane as he deports 11 million undocumented immigrants, their families and their children. He reminded us, at the press conference in which he ejected Jorge Ramos, that “Hispanics love me!” All the while, he promises “make America great again.”
This begs the question: To which golden age of American greatness is Trump harkening? The answer of course is, it doesn’t matter. Trump’s message isn’t actually about the past, it’s about the future of this country: Who will live here, and how? Who will have power, and how? Will the fact that white people will be minority in America change the power structures within our social, cultural, political and legal institutions? These are the questions that Donald Trump is aiming to answer, and these are the fears he is so effectively stoking.
By Mark Karlin
This is coded into Trump's now-iconic campaign slogan that simply says: "Make America Great Again." What a loaded four words those are. Ever since Obama's election, this expression--or variations of it--have been the rallying cry for making America "white again." After all, many Republicans still don't believe Obama was born in the United States. (The "birther" movement was essentially about denying a Black man residence in the White House.) This is the context in which Trumpism and the "Make America Great [White] Again" appeal has spread like wildfire among whites who feel that the United States should be a nation of white governance and privilege.
The "Make America Great Again" slogan makes people like Sarah Palin, who admires Trump, feel right at home. That is because the return to a mythical era of US "greatness" is really a coded desire for the nostalgic image of a majority-white, white-dominated, white-ruled society. It is a thinly veiled statement that roundly rejects a robust democracy that embraces diversity. It is an appeal to make the US resemble the so-called "founding fathers": in general, white, male, propertied and wealthy.
Donald Trump’s white male fantasy: You’re one lucky break away from being me
Trump isn't selling a policy agenda. He's selling the idea of power and status and those who feel it slipping
By David Rosen
There are two particularly interesting things about this slice of America. The first is that if you ignore their contemporary party preferences and turn back the clock about 60 years, this is the same demographic segment that was at the heart of the New Deal coalition. By the 1980s, voters who fit this profile came to be called the “Reagan Democrats” as they fled the Democratic Party. By the late 1990s, many of them were voting straight ticket Republican. Political strategists and pundits have given them a number of colorful monikers–from “hard working white people” to “NASCAR dads”–and have made a fetish out of winning their votes, even in elections when they probably weren’t up for grabs. The truth is that these voters, especially the ones living in rural and ex-urban areas, have been a key constituency in the Republican Party’s base at least since President George W. Bush took office.
Most of these voters are old enough to remember a time when white working men–and their organized proxies in Washington–sat at the pinnacle of American life. Many of them still long for that long-gone age when being a white man meant you were on top of the world. And while these voters are nowhere near the bottom of America’s contemporary social hierarchy, they don’t see it that way. The entire trajectory of their lives has been the experience of relative decline in power, wealth and social status in relation to other groups–as women, people of color, gays and lesbians and other groups have won greater social acceptance and rights to which they were entitled but previously denied. At the same time, a similar shift has been underway on the global stage, as nations around the world–from China to Japan to Mexico–have become our competitors in the global economy. Add to that several decades of wage stagnation, exploding inequality and the disappearance of good paying jobs, and it’s clear that the white working class has experienced the past half-century as a steady and uninterrupted loss. It’s easy to see why they feel like losers.
So when Trump says, “We don’t win anymore,” as he did twice during the first GOP presidential debate, he’s complaining that white men no longer call all the shots. He’s playing to the racist, misogynist and xenophobic resentments harbored by these downscale voters. His confrontational, shameless, never-back-down posturing is more than just a quality these voters want in a leader–it’s a live demonstration of what it’s like to live in a world where you never have to apologize for anything, no matter how much it hurts or offends other people and other groups. Trump is what it looks like to win.
Nationwide Poll: Majority of Republicans Have Nakedly Racist Worldview—Trump Has Found the Way to Unleash It
GOPers are living in a dangerous right-wing fantasyland—and are just fine with that.
By Steven Rosenfeld
“I’m not terribly surprised by the birther numbers or the numbers about Obama’s religion,” said Tom Jensen, PPP director. He said the numbers are consistent with what he’s seen in GOP polls in recent years, and matched another new poll from Iowa where about 35 percent of the state’s GOP electorate are "birthers."
But what is surprising to Jensen is how Trump’s candidacy has made Republicans more willing to publicly admit their xenophobic or racist positions.
“Trump has sent a message that it’s okay to be racist,” he said. “So maybe some racist attitudes you previously held, or were not allowed to say in public, now one of the leading presidential candidates is saying them and not apologizing at all.”