Trump through the race perspective

I’m a big fan of journalist Alec MacGillis.  Election night he kept pushing the idea that the white working class thing is not all about race because a lot of the wwc voters that Hillary lost had actually voted for Obama.  Jamelle Bouie pushes back hard on that idea and takes a look at the election through the lens of race and America’s history:

There’s an easy rejoinder here: How can this be about race when Trump won some Obama voters? [italics in original; bold is mine]There’s an equally easy answer: John McCain indulged racial fears, and Mitt Romney played on racial resentment, but they refused to go further. To borrow from George Wallace, they refused to cry “nigger.” This is important. By rejecting the politics of explicit racism and white backlash, they moved the political battleground to nominally colorblind concerns. Race was still a part of these clashes—it’s unavoidable—but neither liberals nor conservatives would litigate the idea of a pluralistic, multiracial democracy. Looking back, I thought this meant we had a consensus. It appears, instead, that we had a detente. And Trump shattered it. With his jeremiads against Hispanics and Muslims—with his visions of dystopian cities and radicalized refugees—Trump told white Americans that their fears and anger were justified. And that this fear and anger should drive their politics. Trump forged a politics of white tribalism, and white people embraced it.

Here’s what we need to understand: This has happened before. For 10 brief years after the Civil War, a coalition of ex-slaves and white farmers worked to forge democracy in the former Confederacy. With the help of the federal government, they scored real victories and made significant gains. But their success spurred a backlash of angry whites, furious at sharing power with blacks and their Northern allies, murderous at the very idea of social equality. Those whites fought a war against Reconstruction governments, and when they won, they declared the South redeemed…

Americans are stubbornly, congenitally optimistic. And the millions who backed Trump see something in his visage. Something that gives them hope. Here’s what I see. I see a man who empowered white nationalists and won. I see a man who demanded the removal of nonwhite immigrants and won. I see a man who pledged war crimes against foreign enemies and won. I see a man who empowers the likes of Rudy Giuliani and others who see blacks as potential criminals to control, not citizens to respect.

Again, I think there was probably more tolerance of racism than actual racial animus.  But tolerance of racism sucks!

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Trump through the race perspective

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    ” Those whites fought a war against Reconstruction governments, and when they won, they declared the South redeemed…”
    And then they created Jim Crow to keep poor whites from joining with poor blacks. Divide and conquer. It still works.

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