One Reason Trump Didn’t Disavow the KKK

Donald Trump: Winning, somehow

By now you’ve heard Donald Trump refused to disavow the KKK, unless you’ve been living under a rock (which given the election, I am kind of jealous of). The question is why he did so.

He’d already disavowed them several times previously. He disavowed them again later that day. So why did he choose not do it in one CNN interview?

Pundits speculate it could be a racist dogwhistle or a signal that he plans to open the door to totalitarianism.

It also fits in with his broader pattern of saying controversial things that people expect to hurt him, but help his popularity. The reason for this phenomenon may be simply that both the media and political correctness are so disliked by Americans — and especially the GOP base — that picking fights with them will always be a net win for Trump. It’s like he’s turned an entire industry into Jeb Bush.

Around 71% of Americans say they’re against political correctness — and 80% of GOP voters. The media is nearly as reviled— 74% of Republicans and 60% of Americans don’t trust it. While these percentages drop heavily for independents and Democrats when the question is framed in terms of Trump, they don’t move for Republicans, so it hasn’t hurt him so far — though he may dial it back for the general election. Essentially, every time he provokes a news story like this he sets up a mini-referendum on the media and political correctness where many people will come down on the same side they always do.

Let’s look at the near-universal headline: “Trump refuses to disavow KKK.” which seems damaging, until you consider how his supporters or potential supporters view it. For one, he has disavowed them, so it is misleading by implying he still refuses to. This allows Trump and his supporters to paint the media as the bad guy and overly PC, saying basically “I denied it four times, it’s never enough for these people.”

These manufactured controversies also distract from the many substantial reasons to reject Trump as a presidential candidate. This is a candidate who believes debunked conspiracy theories, including that vaccines cause autism and Obama was born in Kenya; who is a mediocre businessperson who is running as a great one; whose tax plan has a $15 trillion budget shortfall — so big you eliminate the entire military and not come close to balancing it. Yet how much coverage is given to those issues vs. the controversies that get Trump coverage on his turf?

It also keeps Trump’s name, and not Rubio or Cruz’s, on the front page. Any publicity, as they say, is good publicity — a saying that Trump has both embraced and proven.

His media victories don’t just endear him to more voters — they fire up his committed supporters. Remember all the speculation that Trump voters were low-interest voters who wouldn’t turn out? Oh, how young we were.

Trump is like a matador, waving a red flag at a bull to get it to charge, knowing that he can step out of the way. The closer he comes to danger, the more his crowd roars when he gets away with it. The more he succeeds, the more invulnerable he looks. Even if you hate him, he still commands your attention — and everyone else’s. How often can you say that of Marco Rubio?

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