Trump is not just a disruption to the state of American politics. He is its incarnation.
Flagrantly objectionable and willfully offensive, by design, Donald speaks out loud white America's inside voice. America is losing, he cries, exasperated. Losing to illegals, foreigners, criminals, and terrorists (code: Mexicans, Asians, Blacks, and Arabs, respectively). His sales pitch aka platform: Trump is a winner. America is losing. Trump can make America win.
His rhetoric is crass and plain, but it's not coming from nowhere. Xenophobic and racially-charged fear mongering has permeated the media and political discourse of conservatives and liberals alike for decades. The GOP has cultivated a sense of loss and desperation amongst its constituents throughout President Obama's administration. Eight years of a Black family occupying the White House and white identity -- centuries in the making -- has been thrown into crisis. Trump's campaign capitalizes on that crisis by inflating white, male power.
Whiteness is not a privilege, it is a birthright, an entitlement. And it needed a hero.
Most Republicans aren't rich enough to afford being Republican. Promised tax breaks exclusively benefit the wealthiest; and cuts to government spending put working, middle class, and poorer households in precarious situations by drastically limiting the quality and scope of government services. So why does anyone vote against their own economic interest?
Being Republican has become an aspirational brand. The GOP uses racial difference to create an aspiration out of being white. Trump is banking on it.
An economic analysis could be made to demonstrate how pale epidermis has translated into trillions for the collective majority of white people in this country. (Cheryl Harris makes a brilliant argument in the Harvard Law Review that whiteness historically evolved from a racial identity to a form of property.)
Donald embodies this aspirational brand to a T. No time for political correctness, when you're winning and making bank. Wear that white hide like it makes you billions -- and for Trump, it has.
While voting for Donald won't give access to his wealth, it reinvigorates the fantasy of being the chosen one, the winner, the blessed. Pro-white right. (Which is what campaigns to "save" fetuses from women really boil down to. After all, when it comes to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it's all about the need to further empower police and bear arms. Not so pro-life, as it turns out. Just pro-white-life.)
Terrifying as that sounds, it is the most clear and resonant the Republican party has been in decades. His campaign is irrational and against class, but no matter how facile or flaccid it seems, it's happening. Like a shiny, overpriced counterfeit, the nation may not be able to afford Donald, but people are buying it anyway.