Minority outreach by the Trump campaign is being undone in real time by the ringleader himself. In his gruff appeals to minority voters, pundits say he is really working to convince white voters that he is not racist. His words paint a miserable picture of poverty and despair that culminates in his plea: "What the hell you got to lose?" Along the way, however, he has managed to self-inflict wound after wound, including the misguided pounce on NBA hero, Dwayne Wade's family misfortunes. Trump's latest criticism of NFL star, Colin Kaepernick, may prove even more misguided.
However, unlike the Wade issue, which has mostly preoccupied African American communities, his criticism of Kaepernick is sabotaging his entire campaign. The criticism also reveals the true nature of Trump: he doesn't really believe what he's peddling. He knows that Americans have it good, and sometimes he just can't contain it.
Of course, how could an individual like Trump really think this place is so bad? Look at the life he has led. This was a land of opportunity for his family, which continues today. In this country, he has been free to be a playboy, entrepreneur, TV personality, and everything in between. He has been free to make a lot of money. Been free to try to start a new football league. Free to marry three times. Free to travel the world and see how rough other nations have it. Free to run for president.
After the story of Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the National Anthem broke, Trump made his true feelings known: "I think it's a terrible thing, and you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try, it's not gonna happen."
Consider the explicit and implicit meaning of Trump's statements.
Kaepernick is an individual protesting the treatment of blacks, which is a logical outcome of the Trump narrative; after all, if minorities have it as bad as Trump says, shouldn't there be dissidence? In other words, why would Trump call out Kaepernick for conduct that seemingly provides evidence of his doomsday forecast for minorities?
The words are remarkable in the context of other comments by Trump. For example, whereas he criticizes Kaepernick for sitting silently in protest as "terrible," he did not hesitate to encourage violence on behalf of his supporters: "knock the crap" out of them he said of protestors who might lob tomatoes. In all respects, Trump's authoritarian instinct leads him to condemn protest.
Even if one does not agree with Kaepernick's conduct, it is his very right to protest. Dissent is as American as apple pie. In fact, there is far worse he could do legally, including burning the American flag, which the Supreme Court has ruled is protected speech. To be American is to be able to disagree. Like it or not, we all have to tolerate Trump, Kaepernick's protest, and the fan who burns a Kaepernick Jersey.
Trump, instead of embracing Kaepernick's protest as support for his own idea of "Make America Great Again," missed the pivot and instead proclaimed the country's greatness when he challenged Kaepernick to find a place that will work better: "It's not gonna happen." Thus, even after trying to convince minorities of how bad they have it, Trump flips the position by confirming how good they have it. Such a political debacle promises more bad news as each day passes. For donors and supporters of the Trump campaign, it shows that the "Make American Great Again" slogan is just a front, a business branding that attempts to package negativity for consumption. The problem is that he doesn't even buy into the message, which is ultimately bad news for his hardline supporters who do.