Ironically, Donald Trump, the white working man’s political savior, is a New York dilettante who inherited a fortune from his father, went to an Ivy League university and escaped with no curiosity about the world whatsoever. A person whose defining characteristic is a singular fascination and deep indulgence of his own shifting opinions, however misinformed. One who harbors wild conspiracy theories such as the father of one of his primary opponents was responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Trump certainly doesn’t epitomize small government conservatism, so the common denominator between his supporters and he is his deep-seated bigotry, sexism, and bashing of immigrants.
Even many Republican politicians are aghast at Trump’s overt race-baiting, although only a select few have withdrawn their endorsements. But they should not be surprised at his antics because Trump’s behavior and speechifying, his singular popularity on the right is the result of decades of racial animus and division sewn by Republicans.
The Republican party has spewed such racial antipathy since its Southern base split from the Democratic party in the 1960s after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 during the Johnson administration. It was Nixon who first deployed this Southern strategy to exploit racial tensions in the South so that white voters would migrate to the Republican party. At one time, the Southern states voted solidly Democratic and the region was even nicknamed the “Solid South” by the political establishment.
Since Reagan gave a speech about “states rights” to kick off his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a place where three civil rights workers were murdered by the Klan in 1964, Republicans have courted the white reactionary vote. Remember Reagan often used “welfare queen” imagery to conjure contempt for social programs. Also, as Paul Krugman wrote: Reagan “talked about working people angry about the ‘strapping young buck’ using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks at the grocery store.” In fact, Reagan’s campaign consultant Lee Atwater infamously said:
”You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
George W. Bush continued the tradition on the right of race-baiting by speaking in the opening months of his presidential campaign at Bob Jones University, a “Christian” school which forbid interracial dating. More recently, Romney spoke pejoratively of the 47% who pay no income tax and are dependent on government. The racial dog-whistle politics of Republican presidential contenders of yore has morphed into the overt racial catcalls of a Donald Trump who has managed to insult almost everyone whom his loyal white working class base fears. In fact, Trump has championed his largely less educated white male base by saying: “I love the poorly educated.”
According to an article in Salon.com quoting a statistical summary by Jason McDaniel and Sean McElwee:
“In our newest analysis, we examine the feelings expressed by Trump supporters towards a variety of groups in America. The results are pretty clear: compared to supporters of other Republican candidates in the primary, Trump supporters really dislike many groups in America. For these voters, Trump’s blend of casual racism and muscular nativism is the core of his appeal.”
Therefore, Trump is far less generous to most others than he is to his largely less educated white male base whose problems he blames on the economic dislocation of manufacturing jobs and illegal immigrants taking their jobs rather than the overt laziness and criminality he saves for the characterization of others. According to Trump, Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and “drug dealers.” Muslim immigrants should be banned. Trump casually incites violence at his rallies and bars certain disfavored press. Women who are victims of sexual harassment on the job should simply “change careers.” Trump has used trumped up statistics from a white supremacist website to falsely claim that “81% of white homicide victims are killed by blacks.” Trump has repeatedly insulted the Muslim Gold Star parents of a soldier killed in Iraq. As said to Joseph McCarthy, one wants to scream: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
”Both Trump’s claimed rebel identity and the Republican establishment’s response to it exceptionalizes what has long been standard practice on the American right. Basic decency has never been highly valued by conservatives...”
”The right’s professed fetishes for country, family and God have been exposed to be proxies for the fundamentals of conservative politics: order, security, white supremacy, patriarchy. “
Trump is a caricature of a presidential candidate created by the right’s long history of race-baiting and anti-intellectualism. He is a stooge right out of the funny pages. Surely, for a political party that does not accept climate change science or evolution, for a party that reflexively believes in vast conspiracy theories ― like the Clinton’s killed Vince Foster or the sitting President is a Kenyan Muslim ― nothing is too far-fetched, even Donald Trump perched in the Oval Office with his small fingers on the nuclear codes. God help us! Trump should be discarded and left alone with his bigotry and self-worship. Surely, the country, our security arrangement with allies, and the world itself would devolve into chaos given his presidency. If left alone, Trump will never be lonely because he will always have his inflated self-regard as company.