Recently Greg Sargent posited a reason for Donald Trump’s appeal among his supporters.
But what if Trump’s efforts to court white backlash constitute one of the essential ingredients of his success among Republican voters?
A new analysis of Washington Post/ABC News polling strongly suggests this may be the case. A Post/ABC national poll this month asked: “Which of these do you think is a bigger problem in this country — blacks and Hispanics losing out because of preferences for whites, or whites losing out because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics?”
A large plurality of Republican respondents nationally say that the bigger problem is whites losing out, by 45-19…and it turns out that Trump supporters believe this in far larger percentages.
That is something a lot of people have been noticing. There is a reason why white supremacists have embraced the candidacy of Donald Trump. Here is how one of them put it:
“Trump, on a gut level, kind of senses that this is about demographics, ultimately. We’re moving into a new America.” He said, “I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” but he did believe that Trump reflected “an unconscious vision that white people have – that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it. I think it’s there. I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon.”
And now, Franklin Foer has written this:
Donald Trump holds one core belief. It’s not limited government. He favored a state takeover of health care before he was against it. Nor is it economic populism. Despite many years of arguing the necessity of taxing the rich, he now wants to slice their rates to bits. Trump has claimed his nonlinear approach to policy is a virtue. Closing deals is what matters in the end, he says, not unbleached allegiance to conviction. But there’s one ideology that he does hold with sincerity and practices with unwavering fervor: misogyny.
In a country that feels compelled to – as Barack Obama once put it – “slice and dice” the electorate, those can seem like two different things – one about people of color and the other about women. But then Foer goes on to write this:
Trump wants us to know all about his sex life. He doesn’t regard sex as a private activity. It’s something he broadcasts to demonstrate his dominance, of both women and men. In his view, treating women like meat is a necessary precondition for winning, and winning is all that matters in his world. By winning, Trump means asserting superiority. And since life is a zero-sum game, superiority can only be achieved at someone else’s expense.
As I’ve written before, our Western white patriarchy has led us to believe that dominance is the only form of power. Trump’s call to “make American great again” is all about winning. And for him, winning means dominance.
But a commitment to dominance means that there are those who dominate and those who are dominated. The group that falls into the latter category pretty much includes anyone who doesn’t look like or agree with Donald Trump. As Foer says, asserting your superiority over them is how you win.
Rebecca Traister wrote recently that this election is about that kind of white male power in its death throes.
The public spectacle of this presidential election, and the two that have preceded it, are inextricably linked to the racialized and gendered anger and violence we see around us…
Whatever their flaws, their political shortcomings, their progressive dings and dents, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton mean a lot. They represent an altered power structure and changed calculations about who in this country may lead…
This is our country in an excruciating period of change. This is the story of the slow expansion of possibility for figures who have long existed on the margins, and it is also the story of the dangerous rage those figures provoke.
There are a lot of issues on the table in this election. My suggestion is that we view all of them through the lens of whether they contribute to dealing another blow to that embrace of dominance as the source of white male power or whether they give it new life.
Here is how David Simon put it after the re-election of Barack Obama in 2012:
You want to lead in America? Find a way to be entirely utilitarian — to address the most problems on behalf of the most possible citizens. That works. That matters…
This election marks a moment in which the racial and social hierarchy of America is upended forever. No longer will it mean more politically to be a white male than to be anything else. Evolve, or don’t. Swallow your resentments, or don’t. But the votes are going to be counted, more of them with each election. Arizona will soon be in play. And in a few cycles, even Texas. And those wishing to hold national office in these United States will find it increasingly useless to argue for normal, to attempt to play one minority against the next, to turn pluralities against the feared “other” of gays, or blacks, or immigrants, or, incredibly in this election cycle, our very wives and lovers and daughters, fellow citizens who demand to control their own bodies.
Regardless of what happens with his second term, Barack Obama’s great victory has already been won: We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all — all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests. And now, normal isn’t white or straight or Christian. There is no normal.
The ultimate irony will be that when/if Trump doesn’t win, it will be primarily because he failed to recognize that reality.