Donald Trump and the Politics of Race
Part 1 — Immigration and the Aliens Among Us
For the last week I’ve been attempting to make sense of Trump’s visit to Mexico, his immigration speech later that day and his entire approach to this issue. This effort has been complicated by the fact that Trump’s statements and actions often seem so disjointed, changing and nonsensical that there is a temptation to assume that he’s simply making it up as he goes. And to some extent at least, that appears to be exactly the case.
As Michael Grunwald pointed out in a pre-convention piece for Politico, “[Trump’s] flagrant indifference to the details of public policy is particularly remarkable. He has boasted that his main policy adviser is himself and the advisers he does have say he doesn’t read briefing papers…His theory of the election is that policy doesn’t matter much and details don’t matter at all.”
This of course is in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton, who has long been known to be a complete “policy wonk”. In an article she wrote for the AP at the end of August, Jill Colvin took note of this obvious disparity when she wrote, “To date, Trump’s campaign has posted just seven policy proposals on his website, totaling just over 9,000 words. There are 38 on Clinton’s “issues” page…and her campaign boasts that it has now released 65 policy fact sheets, totaling 112,735 words.” For his part Trump has described Clinton’s level of policy planning as “crazy”, and stated that, “She’s got people that sit in cubicles writing policy all day, it’s just a waste of paper.”
A striking illustration of these differences can be found just by visiting the “Issues” pages of the candidates’ two web sites. If you look at the image above for example you’ll see their position statements regarding the US Military. Clinton makes a point of highlighting the importance of alliances, clarity and leadership. Her page then goes on to talk about budgetary issues, innovation, reform initiatives and the treatment of veterans. To be sure, her page is brief and clearly meant for a mass audience. But it’s the War & Peace of policy positions compared to Trump’s page. Trump’s position simply states that “I will make our Military so big, powerful and strong that no one will mess with us.” And if you click on the link you are treated to 18 seconds of Trump looking into a camera and saying exactly that, along with the insistence that “we’re going to get rid of ISIS fast.” Clinton’s page may be brief, wonky politico-speak, but Trump’s looks like it was written and produced by a twelve year-old. It’s ludicrous.
Returning to the immigration issue, if we look at the stance of the two candidates on that we see that Clinton’s page (entitled “Immigration Reform”) pushes comprehensive immigration reform because it, “strengthens families, strengthens our economy, and strengthens our country.” Her page goes on to talk about paths to citizenship, the end of 3 and 10-year bars for families with different immigration statuses, the defense of DACA and DAPA, the end of family detention, the end of private detention centers and more. Trump’s page (which is really just a link to another video) is entitled “Illegal Immigration”, and it simply states that, “If we don’t have borders, we don’t have a country. We need to BUILD A WALL that will keep illegal immigrants out.” If you click on the link you are treated to 50 seconds of Trump talking about how he will build a wall, it will be a “great wall”, and it will keep illegal immigrants out. He repeats several times, “we either have a country or we don’t”, and ends with, “it has to be stopped, it has to be stopped now.”
It is, to say the least, less than impressive. But while Trump may not care much about policy or details, that doesn’t mean he lacks either an opinion or a plan. The good news is that Trump’s position on immigration doesn’t sound like it was written by a twelve year-old. The bad news is that it sounds like it was written by a dimwitted, paranoid, xenophobe. And in ways both large and small, Trump continually exhibits all of the characteristics you would expect of such a person. For example, Trump always eschews the more correct term “unauthorized immigrants” in favor of “illegal immigrants” or even “illegals.” And in case it’s not clear, both of these terms carry dark and dangerous undertones, because they make it sound as if the people themselves are illegal. As Elie Wiesel and others have pointed out, human beings cannot be illegal. Their actions can be illegal, but not their persons. This is a very important distinction, because the act of categorizing people as illegal is an act intended to define their very existence as illegal. It is an act intended to dehumanize them. I suspect that one of the main reasons Wiesel felt compelled to speak out is that he knows, as do all Jewish people, how this usually plays out. (Hint: very badly)
N o one who has followed Trump’s statements can dismiss this concern as mere hyperbole. When Donald Trump announced his candidacy, much was made of his statement that Mexicans coming across the border are “murderers” and “rapists”. But less has been said of Trump’s ongoing slanders against Mexico and Mexicans. Trump’s views in this regard are not new. As early as 2014 Trump was calling Mexico “our enemy”, and in a presentation he gave for far-right PAC “Texas Patriots” in April of 2015 he actually referred to unauthorized Mexican immigrants as “vomit.” Interestingly, if you keep watching that video for another minute or so after the “vomit” reference, you’ll see Trump repeat his “murderers and rapists” lines almost verbatim. And this was before the speech announcing his candidacy. So clearly, Trump had been practicing and delivering that specific bit of racist rhetoric for some time.
I use the term “racist” advisedly, because the racism inherent in Trump’s immigration stance has been obvious from the beginning. His statements, for example, have almost exclusively targeted Mexicans and Muslims while virtually ignoring the millions of other unauthorized immigrants from Europe, Canada and the rest of the world. He only rarely mentions the fact that nearly half (40%) of unlawful immigrants are here due to visa overstays, which means they entered the country legally. And he never mentions the fact that visa overstays are not a criminal act. They are considered a civil infraction rather than a criminal offense. And it goes without saying that he does not point out that most of the visa overstays are by Canadians, not Mexicans. In fact if you look at the PEW Research information above, which was put together by PEW using data from Homeland Security, Canadians account for nearly as many visa overstays as the next three countries (Mexico, Brazil, Germany) combined!
And while there is no question that Mexicans make up the lion’s share of unlawful immigrants, Trump also ignores the fact that their numbers have already been dropping for nearly a decade. As PEW points out, the population of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico reached its peak in 2007 during the Bush administration, and has declined by nearly 20% since that time (see above left). And here’s a data point that might be important: the number of Mexicans apprehended at the border has dropped by nearly 85% in the last ten years (see above right). In fact for the first time in record, going back to 1970, less Mexicans were apprehended at the border than non-Mexicans.
Also, Trump’s call for more US Border Patrol Agents appears to ignore the fact that the US has already nearly tripled the number of agents on the Southwestern border since 1997. President Obama alone has added thousands of new agents, and despite Trump’s claim that, “President Obama and Hillary Clinton have engaged in gross dereliction of duty by surrendering the safety of the American people to open borders,” the Obama administration increased the number of Border Patrol Agents to all-time highs, while deporting more unauthorized immigrants than any president in history. In fact the Obama administration is on target to hit a number of deportations that would be greater than all of the deportations of the 20th century combined.
The reason Trump ignores so many of these facts is that they contradict the narrative he is creating and then exploiting for votes. That narrative is of dangerous outlaw hordes of brown people swarming into American, stealing jobs and wreaking criminal havoc. Of course it’s understood that Americans, and in particular the type of Americans Trump is courting, do not fear “hordes” coming from Canada or Europe. But they do care quite a bit about black people, brown people and Muslims. So not surprisingly, Trump refers almost exclusively to Mexicans and Muslims when discussing this issue.
If you look at the overstays by the region map above however, you’ll see that visa overstays by Canadians, Europeans and Asians amount to nearly seven times the visa overstays by Mexicans. And visa overstays from both the Middle East and North Africa combined amount to only about 3% of the total. In fact nearly twice as many people from the Caribbean overstay their visas each year as those from the Middle East, but you don’t see Trump warning about the encroaching hordes of lawless miscreants from Saint Kitts or the Bahamas.
There’s a reason for this, and the reason is that he knows the engine of racism always runs best on the fuel of fear. Trump can attempt to paint Mexican families with the sins of drug cartels and refugee families from Syria with the sins of terrorists, but when most of Trump’s white supporters think of the citizens of Barbados the only image that’s likely to come to mind is of nice people bringing them drinks with umbrellas. And those are the wrong images for Trump’s particular marketing plan.
The primacy of fear in Trump’s immigration position is also why Donald Trump continues to present illegal immigration almost exclusively within the context of crime and terrorism. As Josh Barro pointed out recently in Business Insider, “The thrust of the Trump message on immigration is not so much that our current immigration policy fails cost-benefit analysis as it is that immigrants may kill you.”
In service to his message of fear Trump has steadfastly over-stated the number of immigrants engaged in criminal activities. On numerous occasions Trump has stated that there are over 2 million unauthorized immigrants with criminal records, even though no one has any idea where he is getting that number. Trump has claimed that this number comes from “federal data”, but that is not true. It appears that the number actually comes from an anti-immigration think-tank called the “Center for Immigration Studies”. And their data, aside from being in dispute, includes 13 million green card holders (legal residents).
The actual number appears to be significantly lower than that. The Migration Policy Institute for example studied data from the US Department of Homeland Security and came up with a number about 67% lower than Trump’s. And that number included misdemeanors as well as felonies. And in any case, numerous studies have clearly shown that immigrants commit crimes at rates significantly lower than native-born Americans. For example see the graph above.
But just as Republicans have often attempted to portray Democratic politicians as “soft on crime” even as the crime rate fell to historic lows, Trump has consistently portrayed both Obama and Clinton as soft on illegal immigration even as that situation has improved to new lows. In his speech on immigration last week for example Trump insisted that, “Since 2013 alone, the Obama administration has allowed 300,000 criminal aliens to return back into United States communities.” And why did Obama do this? According to Trump these criminals were, “not detained or processed for deportation because it wouldn’t have been politically correct.“
As you might imagine, this statement is a lie. And like Trump’s insistence that there is a huge “catch and release” program that he will stop, most of Trump’s statements in this regard ignore the critical fact that these releases are either internal ICE decisions or court orders. They are not Obama administration policy. In fact Sarah R. Saldana, the Director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stated just last April in congressional testimony that in 2015, “…nearly two-thirds of the criminal releases that year were legally required rather than the result of ICE’s exercise of discretion.”
In other words, even if Trump were president, the same releases would have happened, and would continue to happen, because they are required by law. But like the real figures and trends of unauthorized immigration, this is not a fact that you will ever hear Trump acknowledge, for the simple reason that he ignores and/or misrepresents any fact that contradicts his narrative of capitulation in the face of “invasion”.
Another thing Trump rarely acknowledges is the cost of his proposed immigration policies, the lone exception of course being his constant insistence that Mexico will pay for the wall. Which of course they won’t. Journalists who have looked into it however have noted that simply finishing the fence we already have would cost $5-$10 billion. A better barrier-fence (such as Israel’s barrier with the West Bank) could cost up to $25 billion and take a decade to build. And once built it would likely cost up to a billion dollars a year to maintain.
And this is for a fence, not an actual “wall”. No one is even sure how much it would cost to build an actual wall across the entire Southwest American border. As has been pointed out, a wall only 30' high would require as much concrete as three Hoover Dams, or enough to pave a road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the earth. And of course a wall is not only concrete. The rebar in such a wall would be billions of pounds, or approximately 10.2 million cubic feet. It would be “one of the largest civil works projects in the history of the country.”
Of course it’s not clear if that is even what Trump is actually proposing, because other than his insistence that Mexico will pay, his pronouncements on this topic have been vague and changing. As John Dean noted last May in his piece for Newsweek, “Trump has described his wall as low as 25 feet tall and at other times as high as 55 feet. Sometimes he has his wall running the entire border, other times only 1,000 miles, plus the 670 miles of high steel fencing Republicans spent $2.4 billion on to keep illegal immigrants out of the U.S. Clearly, Trump is promoting a concept, not an actual proposal.”
Meanwhile, tripling the number of ICE enforcement agents would cost $8.4 billion a year, the national e-verification system would cost another $2 billion, the visa-tracking system would cost $7 billion, mandatory detentions would cost just under $2 billion annually, and the mass deportation itself would cost over $141 billion. Which places the initial estimated costs for Trump’s immigration program at somewhere between $165-$185 billion. For comparison purposes, that’s enough to fund NASA for over a decade. It’s also enough to build 2,000–3,000 state-of-the-art high schools across the country, or to pay for a 4-year college degree for nearly 5 million Americans.
S o why the push to implement such a massively expensive program? If we want to get to the foundation of Trump’s immigration views, we need look no further than the speech he gave last Wednesday. Toward the end of his speech he made a statement that has received almost no attention from the media. But PR consultant Eric Schmeltzer, in a blog post for the Huffington Post, spotted it. Looking at point #10 in his 10-point plan, Trump said, “We’ve admitted 59 million immigrants to the United States between 1965 and 2015…Within just a few years, immigration as a share of national population is set to break all historical records. The time has come for a new immigration commission to develop a new set of reforms.” Trump then outlined the key goals he envisions within these new reforms, and the very first one is quite telling. Trump’s first goal is to, “keep immigration levels, measured by population share, within historical norms.”
Within a speech that so shocked much of the country, these several seemingly innocuous policy statements didn’t get a lot of attention. But let’s unpack them. First of all, there’s a very specific reason that Trump mentioned 1965 when talking about this issue. So what happened in 1965? In 1965 the “Emergency Quota Act”, an immigration law from the 1920’s, was replaced with a newer law called the “Immigration and Nationality Act”.
And while it’s fair to assume that the majority of Americans are not familiar with obscure immigration legislation from the 1960’s, much less the 1920’s, these laws have for some time been items of great interest among far-right and white supremacist groups. So what was the Quota Act? The Emergency Quota Act was a baldly racist law created to “to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity”. Passed in 1917 and then amended in the early 1920’s, it enforced limits on immigration through a quota system.
The system worked by capping the annual number of immigrants from any country at 2% [initially 3% and later lowered] of the number of people from that country already living in the United States. This of course meant that people from specific European (i.e., white) countries would have a significantly better chance of admittance, because more people from those countries were already living here. Most Asians were barred completely. And of course, the obvious outcome (as well as intent) of this quota system was to maintain specific racial demographics. By the 1960’s however the law was widely viewed as an embarrassment, with President Kennedy once calling it “nearly intolerable.”
The “Immigration and Nationality Act” replaced this quota system with more reasonable visa requirements based on immigrant skills and family relationships. And not surprisingly, the new law altered immigration outcomes. When the Quota Act was still law, nearly 70% of all immigrants came from Europe and Canada. Once the law was passed, Hispanic and Latin American countries rose to nearly 50% of all legal immigration. And Asians, who had been essentially barred in the previous law, grew to over 35% of new immigrants.
As you might imagine, this was not a change that went unnoticed among white supremacists and others on the far right. For example VDARE, an anti-immigration web site that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as a “hate website that regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites,” has referred to the 1965 immigration law as “the Great Replacement”, an expression they lifted from French writer Renaud Camus. Camus coined the expression to describe the threat he perceived from Muslim immigrants in France. He has insisted that Muslims will “mutate” France, and that they are “thugs… whose sole purpose is the destruction and replacement of the French people and its civilization with Islam.” In April of 2014, Camus was convicted in a French court for “incitement to hatred or violence” and ordered to pay a 4,000 euro fine. But in certain circles, his views remain quite popular.
O n our side of the Atlantic we do not want for such thinkers either. In his book “State of Emergency”, Pat Buchanan opined that, “The United States of 1960 was a First World nation, 90% of whose people traced their ancestry to Europe, 97% of whom spoke English…We were one nation and one people…That America is dead and gone. The deconstruction of America — along the lines of culture and values, language and faith, allegiance and loyalty — has begun.”
Former Senator Rick Santorum has also spoken in favor of the earlier, quota-based immigration laws. In an interview he gave in January of 2015, Santorum said that the 1920’s immigration laws “did what was best for the American worker.”
And in 2013 Ann Coulter wrote, “Why can’t the country be more or less the ethnic composition that it always was? The 50–1 Latin American-to-European ratio isn’t a natural phenomenon that might result from, say, Europeans losing interest in coming…To the contrary, it’s the result of an insane government policy. Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act was designed to artificially inflate the number of immigrants from the Third World…Pre-1965 immigrants were what made this country what it was…Why do we have to become a different country? Was there a vote when the country decided to turn itself into Mexico? No other country has ever just decided to turn itself into another country like this.”
The similarity of viewpoints between Camus and Coulter is difficult to miss. In both instances, immigrants of a specific type (i.e., brown) are perceived as a dangerous invasion force seeking to replace the dominant culture rather than assimilate within it. Of course among the radical right, and in the works of Camus, Buchanan, Coulter et al., you will search in vain for any concern that Canadian immigrants will turn American into Canada, or that German immigrants will turn America into Germany. And yet these right-wing nativists insist, almost as a given, that Mexican immigrants will somehow turn America into Mexico. Why is this?
The answer is obvious: in the minds of these people brown immigrants are fundamentally different than white ones. White immigrants, even from different nations and cultures, share a bond with “white America” that enables them to seamlessly blend into the fabric of our country. Black and brown immigrants on the other hand can never successfully assimilate and become “American”. At best they will fail and be a burden to the rest of society. At worst they will always be aliens in our midst. And as such, their presence is only tolerable within the constraints of a carefully regulated system that limits them to a permanent minority status. This was the motivating force behind the racist “Emergency Quota Act”, and it remains the chief motivating agent of these organizations and individuals now.
And the intensity of their convictions, an intensity that causes authors and intellectuals to insist that our nation is being destroyed, and motivates candidates like Trump to demand programs costing nearly $200 billion, becomes clear when you view all of this within its own context. Which is to say, in the minds of white supremacists and other racist elements on the right, America can only be America if it is white. Or to rephrase this based on the situation at hand, an America that becomes too brown ceases to be America at all.
As Trump himself says repeatedly in his web site’s video on illegal immigration, “We either have a country or we don’t.” With his conviction that a single porous border is endangering the very existence of our nation, Trump is simply passing along a racist conviction dating back to the Quota Laws of a century ago. It is a view with a long and stubborn pedigree, a view of America based primarily on who is excluded. And it requires rigid borders and controlled demographics.
Which is why Trump, in his immigration speech last Wednesday, drew a line in the sand that any self-respecting white supremacist would immediately recognize. First, Trump demarcated 1965 as a point at which the trouble started. Then he presented a reform position designed to “keep immigration levels, measured by population share, within historical norms”, which is another way of proposing a reinstatement of the racist quota systems of the 1920’s. And finally, he proposed the creation of a gigantic “deportation force” to forcibly remove millions of unauthorized immigrants. In other words, Trump is proposing a massive (and massively expensive) de-browning of America.
I f you are wondering how Trump can get away with something this audaciously inappropriate, the answer is threefold: First, he chiefly presents his proposals under the cover of job creation and the protection of American workers. This is why he so often uses the slogan “America First”, a fascist catchphrase from the 1930’s. Just as Lee Atwater famously observed that by 1968 you couldn’t say “nigger” anymore so instead you “said stuff like forced busing and states rights,” Donald Trump avoids the obvious political potholes by saying stuff like “law and order”, “drug lords”, “terrorism” and “NAFTA”.
Second, and there is no pleasant way to say this, these types of racist “solutions” have always found fertile soil within the hearts and minds of a suprisingly large portion of the American public, and in particular among American conservatives. Racism has been called the original sin of our republic, and even at this late date we are only slowly coming to grips with it. As Trump’s success shows, even fifty years after the Civil Rights Act the increased numbers of Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. remains a bridge too far for many Americans.
Third, most of liberal America, and even a surprisingly large portion of the press, are simply unaware of these extreme racial views and positions. And this grants people like Trump the ability to operate with a surprising level of stealth. It also means that Trump can grant himself plausible deniability by employing even the most basic dog-whistle tactics.
Trump’s Atwater-type tactic of presenting his proposals as protection for blue-collar America is increasingly being exposed as a mere cover however. As Nate Silver pointed out last May, while “It’s been extremely common for news accounts to portray Donald Trump’s candidacy as a “working-class” rebellion against Republican elites,” the real story is somewhat different. In fact, “As compared with most Americans, Trump’s voters are better off. The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000…well above the national median household income of about $56,000.”
In other words, the battle that most of Trump’s supporters want fought is not primarily an economic battle; it’s an overall cultural battle. For over twenty years conservatives have been fighting a culture war that many liberals either aren’t aware of or don’t take seriously. It’s a war for the heart and soul of America, a war to shape the nature and direction of the nation. It’s also a war conservatives have been losing. They know this, and are increasingly embittered by their defeats.
What liberals typically see as basic civil rights protections and simple good manners, conservatives see as the destruction of our national fabric via a leftist, PC-dominated culture gone mad. They want this type of behavior put to an end, and they want a return to an idealized America they envision from the past.
This desire for a return to what conservatives view as traditional America is also not a desire that liberals tend to take very seriously. And that is a mistake, because this desire remains an extremely powerful force within conservative circles. Influenced by attitudes assimilated during their “Southern Strategy”, Republicans and conservatives have often internalized the southern narrative of loss; of a way of life being stripped away against their will, and of the moral imperative to fight against that loss.
Republican “elites” are well aware of these culture wars, and have vigorously supported them. But they have always insisted, despite the obvious undertones, that their culture war prescinded from any racial considerations. Trump was never under any such illusion. Trump may not be the smartest man who has ever sought the presidency, but his marketing background has enabled him to put his finger firmly on the pulse of this slice of America. And unlike career politicians, he has given no indication that he considers himself obliged to misconstrue the desires of his potential “customers.” And being Donald Trump, he has also shown little interest in doing so.
Trump has known for some time what his supporters really care about, and it’s not limited government, tax reform, free markets, or any other dogma of Republican orthodoxy. What Donald Trump knows is that the culture wars have always contained within them an enormous racial (even racist) component. The demographically changing face of America has mortified many on the right, and the economic and cultural objections they have raised, along with the anger they feel at being “left behind”, have always been inextricably bound to these racial misgivings.
And this has presented Trump with a bit of a dilemma, because attacking and/or blaming African Americans in 2016 requires a much more nuanced approach than it did even twenty or thirty years ago. And Trump does not do nuance. Post 9/11 however, no such nuance or self-control is required in the treatment of “illegal immigrants” or Muslims, and Trump has exploited that racial loophole to his advantage. In fact he has proceeded so overtly and unapologetically that he has left seasoned politicians and operatives on both sides of the aisle nearly speechless.
Republicans in particular have struggled to figure out what to do with him. Trump’s behavior has for some time left many Republican politicians and operatives mortified. To be clear, a lot of Republicans have played the race card in their own passive-aggressive manner since the Southern Strategy of the 1960’s. But they have always done so under the deep cover of dog-whistles, and have consistently denied any direct support for such ideas. Trump on the other hand has been considerably less covert, considerably less evasive, completely unapologetic, and wholly satisfied with the attention he has drawn for his views.
In all fairness, a fair number of Republican organizations and individuals have made the decision to publicly reject Trump. A growing number have even taken the once unthinkable step of endorsing Hillary Clinton. But as the National Review and other GOP “elites” discovered, much to their surprise and chagrin, their feigned shock at Trump’s overtly racist behavior only led to them being attacked and ostracized themselves. Indeed, rather than shielding them from complicity, it only further persuaded liberals that they are duplicitous while simultaneously convincing Trump’s supporters that they are spineless. Unfortunately, this reaction has illustrated the complexities involved in dealing with Trump. On the plus side, it has also served up a dose of poetic justice to those who are only now realizing the consequences of the constituency they helped to create.
The GOP is not alone however in their confusion over how to deal with Trump. Most liberals, as well as the much of the press, remain completely baffled by the man. The former because the left finds it nearly inconceivable that large numbers of Americans would support this type of racial grievance, and the latter because Trump’s behavior completely scuttles the effectiveness of the institutional neutrality the press typically attempts to maintain. Or as NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen has stated, “Asymmetry fries the circuits of the mainstream press. More plainly than that I cannot put it.”
And of course this confusion is only compounded by the seeming indifference of Trump’s supporters to his dubious level of competence, unrelenting mendaciousness, willingness to degrade women, comfort in publicly mocking the disabled, caustic attacks on Gold Star parents, complete disregard for policy details and utter disinterest in the way the government he desires to lead actually functions.
When you consider Trump’s main policy objectives however, his supporters’ ongoing lack of concern for behavior that would usually destroy a candidacy begins to make sense. Trump’s supporters are continuously enraged by their own conviction that the US Government is allowing real (i.e., white) Americans to wither on the vine, while going out of its way to empower and enrich immigrants, criminals and any minority who decides they want “special privileges.”
Many of them also fear that the influx of immigrants is forever changing the “face” of the nation, and changing it in ways they do not find acceptable. The fact that the vast majority of these people do not consider themselves racist, and would be honestly insulted if accused of such, does not stop them from fearing the loss of white majority dominance or rooting for the one person who clearly wants to do something about that.
Nobody but Trump is addressing this issue in a way that resonates with the current GOP base. Hillary Clinton, by virtue of her years in the Democratic Party alone, is considered by them to be part of the problem. And that is even before you add in the decades of right-wing propaganda about her that most Trump supporters have accepted without question. As for Republican politicians, most of them are considered spineless at best, complicit at worst. Trump’s followers have even taken to calling many of them “cucks,” a crude reference to their perceived lack of manliness.
And then there is Trump. For all of his faults, many of which even his own supporters acknowledge, he is unapologetically taking charge of the one job they see no one else even attempting — “getting their country back”. And when the destruction of every thing you hold dear is on the line, niceties are considered secondary.
This is why Trump’s supporters rage at the Washington, D.C. elite for betraying them and betraying conservatism, and then happily support a man who is not a conservative. To his supporters, Trump is a conservative in every way that really matters. Trump doesn’t care if he offends people, and neither do they. Trump doesn’t care about policy minutia and position papers, and neither do they. Trump’s supporters are looking at the big picture, the only picture they care about, and it’s the one in which a real leader shows up who will force everyone to return America to what it once was and should be again.
Among his supporters, it is understood that Donald Trump is not only going to significantly “de-brown” the country, he’s going to shut down the dangerous and frustrating policies imposed on an unwilling populace by the forces of “liberal political correctness”. He’s going to show Mexico and the rest of the world that they can’t push us around anymore. Most importantly, he’s going to put real (i.e., white) Americans back in the drivers seat, and he’s going to do it without apologies to anyone. For most of Trump’s supporters, the very idea of “Making America Great Again” could mean nothing else.