The scene reeks of poorly conceived fiction. The foul mouthed, persistently bankrupt, TV personality, self proclaimed ‘billionaire’ populous becomes president. At least he’s trying to take the top office. Trump’s modest dominance in the Republican primary has baffled the elites of the party in addition to mainstream thought. How does this clownish man, armed with a 6 year old’s vocabulary, and an unintentional comedic delivery garner such support? Trump might be clownish, but let’s dispel all notions that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The traction of “I’m going to make America great again” as a “policy” position sounds ridiculous until it’s understood that the technical words Trump says, is not what his supporters actually hear.
Understanding his support requires a twist to one’s ear to hear the dog whistle. Dead republican hatchet man, Lee Atwater, noted the Republican party consciously and willfully courted the racist vote using certain verbal cues and positions that appealed to bigots but was ambiguous enough to be disguised as real policy. Essentially Trump’s “Make America Great” is the most recent iteration of the Southern Strategy.
Trump’s base sees a changing demographic, the epitome of which being the first Black President. They’re “crowded” by the cultural shifts in the country spurred on by the expansions of rights of minorities, women, and the LGBT community. A new Washington Post/ABC Poll found that 45% of Republicans thought Whites were losing out to Blacks and Hispanics. Trump supporters exceed party average with a whopping 54% of them believing this ludicrous premise. As point of fact, expanding equal rights under law – explicit and implicit – for minority groups is not ‘taking’ rights from anyone. It’s a sick but illuminating kind of ‘logic’ to believe that losing the capacity to indiscriminately discriminate is somehow akin to losing a right. The opinion betrays their character.
And let’s be fair. This doesn’t apply to all of his supporters. Many are just sick of disingenuous politicians screwing them over and they’re screaming for something different. They see their lots shrinking and have decided it’s because of ‘the other’. Ironically, their complaint about the country’s economic misfortune is in part created by 60 years of their blind votes to the Republican party. A party that has consistently operated in direct opposition to their own bases economic interest, and by extension the economic interest of 98% of the country.
Like a dog chasing its tail, as long as they allow race and religion to dictate their vote, they’ll continue to be the monsters in the shadows they perpetually deride and hunt, but never actually find. What’s worst is their mindset saddles the country with a political karma of policies that soak away the wealth of the country to the uber rich, while creating a legislative paralysis that prevents attempts at actual reforms to buffer the middle class. Trump’s “Make America Great” has nothing to do with making America “great” and everything to do with a new branding of an old Southern Strategy. Since learning from mistakes has a known liberal bias, like Slideshow Bob on the Simpsons, the Republican base is again stepping on that same rake. If the last 30 years is any indication, we’ll all get hit right between the eyes.
The terrifying part is in this political climate, where politicians are rightly recognized for the bought shills of Wall Street and corporations they are – against a Hillary Clinton, Trumps pho-populism might have legs. He’ll make America something. Fascist. Authoritarian. Afoul of national law. A Trump administration brings many adjectives to mind, “Great” damn sure isn’t one of them.