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The Donald, Racism, and the Right

July 6th, 2015

The Republican Party has a racism problem. They simply can’t shake it. They wanted to appeal to black voters, and draw them into the fold—but they could not help saying and doing things that offended and alienated that entire part of society. Then they realized that Hispanics are becoming a vital demographic, and again vowed to pull them in—only to quickly revert to form, and drive away even many who are already conservative.

Why? Because the right wing is beholden to its base like nothing else, and its base has a wide swath of racism right down its middle. As has been often said, not all Republicans are racist, but if you’re a racist, then it’s a good bet that you’re a Republican.

Conservatives have denied this for years, trying to dismiss what they can, and blame the rest on extremists and outliers, combined with a generous helping of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. The party does not have a racism problem, they insist. In fact, they claim that racism just isn’t a thing anymore—I mean, hey, we elected a black president, so, racism: gone!

When Donald Trump entered the race, however, he uncovered and laid bare the massive eyesore they all have been trying to deny. Trump now-famously said:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems… they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Far from apologizing, Trump has been doubling- and tripling down on those remarks ever since.

What has not really been remarked upon lately is how Trump’s unrepentant racism has shown up the racism in the party itself.

Consider that Trump, despite making blatantly racist remarks at the very outset of his race, jumped into second place after Jeb Bush, holding 10-12% to Bush’s 16-19%. That in itself is very telling, perhaps to the degree that “despite” is not the right word for the previous sentence—maybe it should be “because.” (Okay, “due to.”)

It’s not as if Trump’s qualifications, ideas, or intelligence dazzled anyone. Nor is it his celebrity, as he was holding at about 2% in the polls before his remarks. Nor is it his general conservative outlook. What marked Trump was his unabashed extremism, and in particular, the racism. A lot of people in the party responded to that. Even Ted Cruz said that Trump should not apologize, adding, “I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific. I think he’s brash. I think he speaks the truth.”

Meanwhile, we on the left are still agog, scratching our heads, asking ourselves, “How can these people take such an outrageously idiotic buffoon so seriously?” Even Sarah Palin can’t bring the magnitude of the stupidity into clear focus. It’s as if some psychopathic clown just walked on to the GOP stage with his pants around his ankles, started swearing a blue streak, and they’re all sitting there applauding, as if it were Dan Quayle spelling “potato” with an “e.” We just can’t comprehend this. We’re just asking ourselves, “Don’t they know how this looks??

What was even more telling, however, was the reaction from the leading GOP candidates. Normally, a comment like that would bring an instant firestorm from all sides. But while the left and the public in general raged… conservatives kept quiet. Except for the ones like Cruz who praised Trump, or Chris Christie, who called Trump “a good guy.”

But for a whole two weeks, all criticism was held back. Marco Rubio, the quintessential Hispanic candidate, took the whole two weeks before saying anything critical. Jeb Bush, claiming many Hispanic family members and trying hard to ingratiate himself with Hispanics, took two and a half weeks.

Ask yourself, why? Why not shoot down a potential rival right away, and score some nice, juicy Sister Souljah points, making it work with the Hispanic demographic? It seems so obvious! Instead, they just stand back, and wait so long that it sounds like they are commenting on history, for cripe’s sake.

The “why” should be clear: Trump said something that a very large portion of the base has been waiting to hear for a long time. Bush, Rubio, and the rest immediately recognized that if they took shots at Trump, they would strongly alienate this core group that they so badly need. So instead they waited until the groundswell became so inevitable that they could finally say something bad about Trump, while still sending the clear message to the base: We’re really okay with all this. Don’t worry.

This is the only reasonable explanation for their reticence—but it very clearly shows that not only does the racist base exist, but that Republican politicians are very consciously aware that it exists, and are eager to pander to that group. This is also why they mouthed ignorance as to what Dylann Roof’s motives were, as if it were some inscrutable mystery. To recognize that it was about race would have been to tie a despicable act directly to the racists—and thereby to their own party.

Time to live up to your very real roots, Republicans. You are not all racists, not by a long shot.

But almost all the racists call your party “home.” And they are there in large numbers, and they have very substantial clout. You simply cannot deny it any longer.

Categories: Race, Right-Wing Extremism Tags: by
  1. Troy
    July 7th, 2015 at 14:36 | #1


    conservatism is the evil

    but it will always be with us, since it’s easy to find half the population that has had enough change and doesn’t want any more.

    takes things to get pretty bad before the muddled middle throws in with the radical reformers.

    we saw that with FDR and again with LBJ after JFK was killed.

    But the GOP crawled back into power in the 1946 election, and of course Nixon blew up the fragile Dem coalition in 1968 & ’72.

    As for roots, let’s not forget St Reagan:

    If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so.”


    Though apparently this was just positioning for the conservatives rubes and once he was governor he did not try very hard to get the Fair Housing Act repealed by Sacramento.

  2. kensensei
    July 7th, 2015 at 14:46 | #2

    A recent Meet the Press poll showed that Independents were the fastest growing group of voters, followed by Democrats in second and Republicans in third (and slowest growing) voter demographic.

    As older white voters age and are replaced by younger people of color, the Progressive movement gains more momentum and Conservative values become less relevant. We witnessed this shift last week when the Supreme Court repeatedly supported the more Progressive policies.

    Cruz and Jindal, in the meantime, need to move further and further to the Right to find support because the Centrist, moderate-thinking majority no longer accept their ideology.

    So it is hard for the Republicans to distance themselves from the white supremacists because that would shrink their already shrinking base even more. Having said that, whoever wins the White House in 2006 will need the Latino vote to get there. It’s a mathematical certainty. It seems it’s ‘game over’ for the GOP as long as they allow candidates like Trump to openly speak his mind.


  3. Troy
    July 7th, 2015 at 23:38 | #3

    GOP insulting hispanics is like getting flipped off by the passengers boarding the Titanic.

    ^ saw that on Metafilter, talking about conservative hate on GLBT.

  4. Troy
    July 11th, 2015 at 23:38 | #4


    good reading if your blood pressure is too low

    (Ornstein’s perspective on this is unimpeachable)

  5. Troy
    July 14th, 2015 at 13:43 | #5

    speaking of racism I read today that Abe proposed importing more foreign IT workers, doubling their number to 60,000 by 2020. This is largely cheap-working Indians no doubt but don’t see why that wouldn’t help me, too.

    plus Apple’s strong market position in Japan makes it a no-brainer that I go back to Japan this decade.

    I got my first job aged 25 in Japan, going to be a bit different at 50 . . . my dream was to get a job for Namco or Sega, but in the 1990s arcade gaming faded away, eventually to be replaced by mobile gaming!

    (and Apple makes stupendously great mobile gaming devices, go figure!)

    I need to really work on my Japanese ability I guess. Since 2000 it’s rusted in some areas, better in others. I should go back to working on my computer-assisted reader app, sigh.

  6. Troy
    July 15th, 2015 at 09:07 | #6


    just about the perfect synopsis about what’s screwy with conservatives today.

    at least Japan doesn’t have this issue

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