Is Trump Signaling a Racial Backlash?

Back in April, when protests against police tactics in Baltimore turned violent, I expressed the fear that instead of a bipartisan commitment to criminal justice reforms we could see something very different:

If there is a supply of backlash voters, there will certainly be a demand, if only among the crowded GOP presidential field where the candidates will soon run out of ways to demonstrate their True Conservatism. The more historically minded of them may realize that St. Ronald Reagan himself built his California political career on a foundation of backlash to rioters, albeit student radicals more than African-Americans per se.

Demand, meet supply (from yesterday’s Meet the Press):

CHUCK TODD: I want to ask you about Black Lives Matter. The latest shooting of a white police officer shooting an unarmed black man. Do you see this as a crisis in America?

DONALD TRUMP:

It’s a massive crisis. It’s a double crisis. What’s happening and people. You know, I look at things. And I see it on television. And some horrible mistakes are made. At the same time, we have to give power back to the police because crime is rampant. And I’m a big person that believes in very big– you know, we need police.

And we need protection. Look, I look at some of the cities. You look at Baltimore. You look at so many different places in this country. Chicago. Certain areas of Chicago. They need strong police protection. And those police can do the job. But their jobs are being taken away from them. At the same time, you’ve got these other problems. And there’s no question about it. They are problems. There is turmoil in our country.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you understand why African Americans don’t trust the police right now?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I can certainly see it when I see what’s going on. But at the same time, we have to give power back to the police because we have to have law and order….

We have to give strength and power back to the police. And you’re always going to have mistakes made. And you’re always going to have bad apples. But you can’t let that stop the fact that police have to regain some control of this tremendous crime wave and killing wave that’s happening in this country.

Here we go!

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.