You cannot explain Trump without race

There was a recent piece in Business Insider on “how Donald Trump broke the conservative media” that was widely shared.  There were plenty of interesting insights, but I did not recommend it because of a glaring hole.  There was no mention of race whatsoever.  Trying to explain anything about the politics of Donald Trump is like trying to explain how a nuclear power plant works without talking about uranium.  Zack Beauchamp is all over it:

There are a lot of reasons why Donald Trump managed to take over the Republican Party. One big reason, as Oliver Darcy notes in a recent Business Insider piece, is the conservative media establishment. Darcy argues that Republican elites encouraged conservative voters to embrace alternative, hard-line right-wing media outlets — which made them powerless when those outlets turned on them by backing Trump. [emphasis mine]

Darcy’s piece is thoughtful and well sourced, and you should read it in full. But it misses a basic part of the story. To see why, look at this list of words that don’t appear in Darcy’s story: “race, racism, Mexican, Latino, black, African Americans, minorities.”

Race and racism are a huge part of the Trump story, inseparable from any meaningful account of how he succeeded. That’s because race remains a hugely important motivating force, independent of class or partisanship, in American voters’ political behavior. Ignore that almost entirely, as Darcy does, and you end up with a distorted analysis of Trump’s success…

To explain why conservative voters embraced Trump, you need to look at what actually distinguishes Trump from other Republican candidates. And the key distinguishing factor here is race: Trump is just far more willing to overtly engage in racist rhetoric than any Republican in decades.

This mirrors the conservative media outlets that have most nakedly embraced him. Ann Coulter, perhaps the most consistently pro-Trump commentator, has a history of comments like there’s a cultural acceptance of child rape in Latino culture.”

If you look at Breitbart News, definitely the most consistently pro-Trump outlet, you seea long history of ugly rhetoric about Latino immigration and “black crime” (an actual category tag on the site). These outlets do racist stuff because they know their audience enjoys it. The racism brings the readers, listeners, and viewers.

This also tracks with what we know about Trump supporters.

Of course, I’ll stop writing about Trump and race when we are not in a situation where roughly 40% of the public is planning on voting for a presidential candidate who is about as close to being an avowed racist as you can get.

All the ways the latest Weiner scandal is related to the Hillary Clinton campaign





Right.  Exactly.  Of course, that did not stop all the political press from acting as if this story actually had something to do with the presidential race.  Jim Newell:

As it does roughly every other year, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s penis has returned to fill a summer news vacuum. Weiner is married—though only in the technical sense, now—to Hillary Clinton’s long-time aide, Huma Abedin. Clinton is running for president, against Donald Trump. So it was inevitable that Trump would try to find a way to translate Weiner’s latest indiscretions against his wife into some sort of criticism against Clinton:

I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this.

Trump is fortunate. Because even though there doesn’t seem to be any meaningful connection between Anthony Weiner’s sexts and the merits or actions of Hillary Clinton, he is not alone in trying to draw one. Members of several news organizations have already found themselves unable to resist the urge to find such a connection and pat themselves on the back for their rigorous neutrality in covering the election. But horserace-ifying this story doesn’t add any balance to the Force, because there’s no there there. If this goes much further, it would be nice if those who’ve made the leap from “There goes Weiner again!” to “Can the Clinton campaign distance itself from this?” could please show their work.

The Anthony Weiner story is a terrific one in its own, isolated domain, unrelated to the ongoing presidential campaign. It’s a former congressman engaging in the same behavior that turned him into a pariah years after he’d said he’d concluded that chapter of his life. It’s painful for just about everyone involved, but so are plenty of great tabloid stories. What’s less clear—meaning, not clear at all—is how this great tabloid story distills into a meaningful election story. Here’s the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman skipping that explanation and jumping straight into the second-order horserace handicapping.

Come again? Steve Bannon is the chief executive officer of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. While divorce documents can’t be taken as the unvarnished truth, Bannon’s ex-wife did make some disturbing allegations about the man in them, and it’s worthwhile to explore the sortof people Donald Trump is hiring to run his campaign. Anthony Weiner, meanwhile, does not work for the Clinton campaign. So … that’s that, campaign-story-wise. Whatever point Haberman was trying to make wasn’t at all clarified with this follow-up, either.

I love that if you click on Haberman’s tweet, lots of people let her have it in intelligent ways.  Not that the is willing to admit any wrongdoing other than not being clear enough.  Needless to say, this is from the NYT, so this kind of foolish, simplistic coverage is everywhere.  Yes, sexting and human scandal are great fun to write about.  But the personal (not political or illegal in any way) misbehavior of the spouse of the campaign manager of the campaign should have pretty much nothing to do with actual campaign coverage.

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