No one can figure out the phenomenon of Donald Trump’s rise in American politics. Not the politicians, nor the media. Not the talking heads nor the political analysts – not even Chris Matthews. They talk about people’s dissatisfaction with the Obama economy – white anger, specifically. They point to the fact the Republican Party has been nurturing the destructive mood of white America that Donald Trump has been able to tap into and expose in its rawest form.
No one can figure out how a presidential candidate can say the vulgar things that come from Donald Trump’s mouth and remain popular with such a large part of the white American electorate. Trump started his campaign by insulting Mexicans, he later slurred women, and then he wanted to ban Muslims from coming to America. He throws black people out of his political rallies and even wants to punch them in the face; no wonder he’s slow to condemn the Ku Klux Klan. In years past these are things that would disqualify a political career.
Small numbers of people from the groups Trump has disparaged will still vote for him. Trump’s campaign, however, is aimed at disaffected white voters, and so far he has attracted enough of them to lead the field in the Republican presidential nomination race. Trump’s behavior has been brash, vulgar, threatening, petty, boastful, misogynistic, homophobic and racist – many of the traits Republicans have long stealthily cultivated in their party. Now Republican voters are ready for a leader who will profess them out loud.
White people, many of them, are angry and fearful. They are angry because since Richard Nixon they have given their all to a Republican Party that signaled that it would keep America in the 1950s, and now look at things – look at it, will you? White children from nine years down are growing up in an America where they are a majority-minority. The 1950s are gone and white people, many of them, are unhappy, to put it mildly, about the country their children and grandchildren are going to grow up in – an America of political correctness and diversity, things they didn’t have to worry about in, say, 1952.
So white voters are gravitating to Donald Trump because he is going bring back the 1950s by Making America Great Again. He is going to ship 11 million Mexicans back to Mexico, keep out the Muslims, punch blacks in the face, shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City, and buy Megan Kelly some sanitary napkins, and he has loudly proclaimed all of this.
Yeah, things have gotten down and dirty. Look at the level of discourse in the Republican debates. They talk not about the economy or health care or education or jobs – or terrorism. They are talking about Donald Trump’s johnson. He was accused by Marco Rubio of having small hands, and you know what they say about men with small hands. (I don’t. I always thought it was the feet that carried this predictive body measurement.) This is a very dangerous conversation in which to engage a man of Trump’s unpredictability. Who knows, he may ask Rubio to bring a tape measure to the next debate where Trump may whip it out on the podium and ask Rubio to take his own measurement.
All this would, of course, increase Trump’s popularity and further perplex the people who are supposed to know what is going on in America.
To conclude, let me tell you all what is going on. White people, many of them, see a white man who is on the edge of bringing about the racial crisis that will determine if America will progress or revert back to the 1950s. America has reached a fork in the road. One way leads to the second Civil War – this time divided by race.