When I was a kid back in the olden days, there was a very clear division between the two national parties when it came to domestic policies. The Republican Party represented the Chamber of Commerce, and the Democratic Party represented the teacher’s union, a.k.a. the UFT.
This difference between the two parties got jumbled up in the 1960’s when Richard Nixon let it be known that he would ‘go slow’ on enforcing the civil rights law that had been passed in 1964. Nixon’s strategy not only transformed the old Confederate states into a bastion of Republican electoral strength, it also made it possible for racism to remain within the public narrative, as long as it was pronounced in a slightly more nuanced way.
When Reagan joked about the ‘welfare queen’ riding around in her Cadillac during the 1980 campaign, everyone knew that he was talking about someone who was Black. It also wasn’t lost on anyone that Reagan’s first public rally in 1980 was held near Philadelphia, MS, where three civil-rights workers were murdered by the Klan in 1964. And his speech that day set the tone for his campaign when he invoked the slogan of ‘states’ rights’ which was only and always a racist trope.
But the world moves on and times change. So, when Donald Trump saw an opportunity to jump ahead in the 2016 GOP primary contests by tilting hard to the Right, what could be more effective than bringing out the appeal to racism again?
Except Trump had to be a little careful this time around because there were just too many African-Americans in public positions, even in the South. So, even though he once asked a small crowd at a California campaign stop to help him locate ‘my negro,’ he then quickly shifted to referring to the man as his African-American, which got him off the racist hook.
But to Trump’s credit, when it comes to racism, he has no problem being extremely democratic in his choice of targets, and sooner or later he was able to bring out the racist sentiments in his audiences by going after anyone and everyone who was non-White. Remember the ‘kung flu?’ Or how about the ‘hordes’ of brown people invading us from the South?
What I find most interesting about Trump’s embrace of racism is the degree to which the media seems to think that he can suddenly become the most fervent supporter of racial diversity, and everyone will quickly forget how he has used racism to separate himself from all his political opponents both within the GIOP and without.
This morning, Politico ran a story about Trump’s search for a 2024 running-mate, and much of the focus was on Tim Scott, who happens to be the Senator from South Carolina who also happens to be Black. Now the idea that Scott could pull African-American votes away from the Democrats in critical swing states like Wisconsin or Pennsylvania is such a joke that it’s beyond a joke.
But let’s understand something about Trump right here and now. This is a guy who when it comes to saying anything in public, there’s absolutely no concern for what may or may not be the truth. In fact, I am convinced that if he runs again in 2024, his basic narrative will be nothing other than the necessity of restoring democracy by reversing the results of the election that was stolen from him last year.
Just today, Trump announced that he is willing and able to debate the heads of various newspapers and/or left-wing politicians who continue to accuse him of lying about the 2020 election when the real ‘big lie’ is the idea that the election was honest and not stolen from him.
Go back to the 2020 election and you’ll discover Joe had a 7-point lead over Trump as early as May. He wasn’t yet even the Democratic candidate, but this 7-point advantage showed up in every head-to-head national poll and when all the votes were counted, Joe beat Trump by seven points.
The Trump campaign tried everything to narrow the gap. There was the nonsense about Hinter Biden’s laptop, all the millions that the Biden family was raking in from China deals, and you couldn’t listen to any Trump ad which didn’t remind voters that Biden’s brain was brain dead. I tuned into one of the AM shock-jocks last week and this guy was still going on about Biden being too demented to make any decision at all.
So, what we now have is a national Republican party which has slipped overt racism under the rug and replaced with what they refer to as ‘election integrity.’ You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that ‘election Integrity’ is just another way of saying that we need to make it more difficult for non-Whites to vote.
I really hope that Trump runs in 2024. He’ll get his ass kicked in for the third time and maybe, just maybe, the Republican Party will have to begin thinking about ending their 60-year love affair with the White race.
But I wouldn’t count on it.