I debated for a long time whether to write this. Good lord I am sick and tired of audience analysis pieces examining a group of people who really shouldn’t be given the time of day. The constant questioning of why in God’s name someone would want to support Donald Trump for president. And it keeps yielding the same results – whether on the Internet, in the papers or on cable news.
“Donald Trump is channeling a certain frustration across America and it’s getting people who wouldn’t normally vote out to the polls.” Thanks Captain Obvious from WhoGivesAS**t.com. Thank you for providing the same analysis for the 10 millionth time. Shout out to all the websites and cable networks doing “investigative journalism” exposés to find out that Trump’s supporters are typically poor, white males who didn’t graduate from high school. I would’ve never figured.
The New York Times recently ran a piece finding that so-called “Reagan Democrats” are emerging as another large demographic of those who would vote for The Donald. You know, the type of people who don’t necessarily believe in a lot of what the GOP supports economically, but likes a candidate with a little flare and an iron fist when it comes to foreign policy. Really though, they’re just independents who can be just as far right or as far left.
What I’m begrudgingly here to declare today is a small, but very important distinction of where the “inspiration” and “anger” comes from. It’s racism. Plain and simple. Bun B recently did some really interesting reporting for Vice and his analysis — by simply attending a few Trump rallies in New Hampshire and South Carolina — easily provided the darker truth of what they’re about. According to Bun, the more time he spent at the rallies, the more he realized Trump supporters are “more anti-Obama and anti-liberal than they are pro-Trump.” Their country and supposed moral way of living wasn’t (in their minds) simply taken away by government, but by a Black man with a Black family at the helm of that governing body.
Let’s remember how the allure of Donald Trump’s political prowess began. His aspirations for president initiated as the face of the “birther” movement, that section of America who not only believes Barack Obama isn’t the Christian he claims he is but also that he isn’t even from this country and therefore was illegitimately awarded Commander-in-Chief by the people. It’s that question that comforts so many on the far right in the U.S. The prospect and possibility that the Black man in office couldn’t have possibly been legally elected the most powerful person in the country they grew up in. Obama’s the guy who appointed the two Supreme Court justices who had a hand in overturning a federal ban on gay marriage. To them, he’s that illegitimate “terrorist” who told Tea Partiers to stop “clinging to their guns and religion.” He’s the guy who might’ve suggested that women get fair pay and, oh yeah, introduced Obamacare, the program that provided healthcare to those already mooching off of their hard-earned tax dollar.
Trump embodies the racial frustration of a group of people shrinking each day. As the Hispanic and Black demographics grow faster than white, those who want to “make America great again” simply want America to go back to what it was: mostly white, with less opportunity for others and a place where they can bathe in their white privilege without shame or counter inquest.
Shaming Hispanics was Trump’s first campaign pitch and immigration has been his cornerstone issue to date. Calling Mexicans “rapists” and “thieves” to marginalize a group of people resounds to folks, especially in the South, who see an increased population of those who don’t look like them.
Trump is the Frankenstein monster created years after this regressive revolution began. Obama didn’t just win in 2008, he clobbered the GOP and his energy helped deliver him both houses of congress as well. It had the Republican Party in shambles and birthed the Tea Party movement, which they shortsightedly used to help recapture the House of Representatives in 2010. That movement produced the same ideals Trump’s supporters currently hold and became its own renegade portion of the right. It separated itself from any libertarian leanings it initially had and focused on race, which ran contrary to what the GOP had planned for it.
Rather than follow the covert racist platform establishment Republicans have formed over the last few years (limited voting rights, continued support for the “war on drugs,” cutting funding for urban public schools and anti-amnesty for illegal immigrants) the Tea Party mutation that has become the Trump crowd would rather be proudly overt about it. They’re the product of a candidate not bound by a party or corporate finance who preys on the minimalistic fears of racism and xenophobia rather than policy or partisanship. That’s why they don’t care about his lack of depth when it comes to policy or that he gave to liberal campaigns in the past or that he’s been bankrupt multiple times or that he questioned whether John McCain was a war hero, or really anything he says. One thing they know is that he stands with their fears, and oftentimes fear navigates support more effectively than thoughtful governance.
Next time you hear a TV pundit come out with a new poll about who supports Trump, remember the “why.” If you discuss it with your friends — regardless of their political leanings — recall what it really is. We know the “who” and we know the “why.” It’s not because Congress isn’t getting anything done (Republicans run that branch). It isn’t because they’re tired of establishment politicians running for president. It’s because for so long these people have been relegated to the shadows. Having to crack a smile at dog whistle one-liners internally rather than overtly cheer on with many others with the same racist feelings they’ve kept bottled up since the 1960s.
Campaign signs generated by Trump’s team even reinforce this sentiment. He’s bringing back Richard Nixon’s idiom of the “silent majority” – you know, the people who were tired of all the social progress John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy and others tried to put forth before all being gunned down in the mid to late '60s. They’re the people who weren’t comfortable with all the civil rights legislation being passed and wanted their America to be “great again.” Donald Trump’s candidacy has always been about race and that scrutiny is only agreeable to those who’ve been seeing color since the beginning.
Paul Meara is a Columbus, Ohio native and resident and has written his first and last op-ed about Donald Trump's supporters. He's also penned for Billboard, Complex and HipHopDX, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @PaulMeara
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