The Racial Side of the Trump Story

Luke Phillips

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There’s a simple story in Trump, and a complicated one. Here at this blog I’ve dedicated an inordinate amount of space exploring the complex one- the white working class’s rejection of neoliberal economics- and, if you’re not familiar with it, here’s Joel Kotkin’s recent piece related to the matter.

But the simple story is just as important. Donald Trump is playing on ethnic tensions between working class whites on the one side, and urban minorities on the other side. It’s a gross mirror of the cynical identity politics of the Left, only this time, it’s being done in favor of the majority against minorities, rather than minorities against the majority. (Neither is justifiable or healthy in the mind of a liberal nationalist like myself, but the Trumpian pro-majority kind is more dangerous. “Tyranny of the majority” and all that.)

Sure, individual blacks and Latinos and Asians might be supporting Trump- and here in Los Angeles, the most diverse city in the country and one of the most diverse on the planet, I’ve run into blacks, Latinos, and Asians who will be casting their votes for the Destroyer of Worlds in the Fall. Their reasoning is the same as what many white supporters of Trump, including those in my own family, reason- disgust with an entrenched political elite, and desire to move towards an economics that benefits people outside the donor class.

But do you see, anywhere, flocks of blacks, Latinos, and Asians pledging to Trump, praying over him, making ethno-nationalist parodies of 300 featuring his likeness, or doing any of these quite normal, reasonable things that people do when they support a candidate?

NO! 

Quite the contrary, Trump does poorly among the black, Latino, and Asian communities. I theorize, by the way, something very simple- that Trump’s coded racial appeals work for working white people but not for other groups. Trump is repugnant to the vast majority of minorities in this country.

And some minority Republicans in high places are noting the same. Ruth Guerra, the RNC’s head of Hispanic media relations, and Orlando Watson, the RNC’s Communications Director of Black Media, announced to the press their withdrawals from the RNC to work at other jobs. Neither mentioned Trump by name in their remarks, but it’s child’s play guessing why they quit. And with Trump as the presumptive nominee now and the RNC’s mission being to get him to the Oval Office, is it any wonder that some people at RNC might find their consciences at odds with their work’s telos?

Trump is many things, and it’s not clear that he’s a racist. (In fact, he’s probably not.) But almost as important as the character (or lack thereof) of an individual is the company he keeps; and Trump’s company, his base of support, includes not only the justified and disenfranchised (i.e., working-class people absolutely shafted by neoliberal economics) but the unjustifiably ugly and prejudiced (hence the Klan’s not-quite-endorsement-but-basically-endorsement-endorsement, etc.)

That’s company that ought to be rejected, or at the very least, subdued and tamped down the way FDR was able to calm the passions of klansmen and socialists with subsidies. That company ought not be pandered to and teased for votes (and Trump’s not the only one guilty of this- the entire conservative GOP Establishment from Reagan to Gingrich to Bush has played this strategy for decades, and the great sin of my beau ideal of a statesmen, Richard Nixon, was not Watergate, but the Southern Strategy.)

There are a lot of reasons to reject Trump (and, albeit, a lot of reasons to support him.) But the reasons to reject him plow into the very core of American identity, of the ideal of the nation-state as a unified and multiracial entity and of the liberal ideal of tolerance and social harmony itself. These reasons delve into the very nature of who we are as Americans and who we are as human beings. So although the Trump might be kind of right on trade, on entitlements, on immigration restriction, on manufacturing, on bringing new people into government, and on any number of other issues, he must be rejected simply because he is willing to cultivate the image of a rejection of multiracial America. He is willing to pander to those who are disgusted with our diversity, and he is willing to elevate them in his rabid pursuit of greatness.

That white identity politics is a force we must banish to the dustbin of history. (For that matter we must also abolish the failed multicultural identity politics so praised and worshipped on the Left.) I fear, though, that in the wake of November, it will only grow.

And that is why we must stand against it.

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