Trump, the GOP, and the shrinking white voter problem
Donald Trump, apparently running for racist-in-chief as well as narcissist-in-chief, has committed outrages during his campaign that would have disqualified any other politician. Yet his poll numbers keep rising, and he never seems to pay a price for his insults.
It’s more than just being “Teflon Don.” He’s tapped into the id of the “ugly American” stereotype. And there seem to be a lot of them, which is causing problems for the Republican Party, particularly against a field of candidates too large to distinguish themselves individually when the media are still all Trump, all the time.
Trump is appealing to the kind of voter who, as a Trump supporter did, will tell Jorge Ramos, one of the most popular television hosts in the United States and the undisputed king of Spanish-language media, to “Get out of my country.” Even though, as Ramos pointed out, he’s an American citizen, too. This was after Trump ordered Ramos out of a news conference, telling him to “Go back to Univision.”
Many media outlets have been describing the problems Trump-ism is creating for the Republicans. And he is causing problems, despite the assurances of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus that Trump is a “positive” for the GOP, which Priebus said was a “young, diverse party” that gave voters a “whole slew of options.” The “slew of options” might be there in numbers but not in policies.
Trump’s policy positions, such as they are, are laughable. His immigration “plan” of mass deportations, a never-ending border fence, and an end to birthright citizenship has been described as totally unworkable, prohibitively expensive, and unconstitutional (which hasn’t stopped other GOP candidates from embracing it). As the candidates are forced to run to the right and defend/explain comments on “anchor babies,” the rabid GOP base is pleased, but too many other voters ultimately will be driven away. Trump is at a negative 51 rating among Hispanic voters, according to a Gallup Poll.
A National Journal story points out that courting the white supremacist vote as Trump does leaves little but the Republicans’ shrinking white electorate. “As Trump’s rise shows, many of those voters militantly oppose the policies (like immigration reform) that might help the party expand its coalition,” the story said. “By demonstrating that dynamic so viscerally, Trump’s ascent has further weakened the Republicans who contend the party must bend to, rather than resist, demographic change.”
But why stop with just insulting Hispanics? At the campaign event after the news conference where Trump ordered Ramos to be thrown out, Trump also imitated Asians with poor English skills, implying that all they could say was, “We want deal.” Ha-ha.
Makes you wonder what ethnic group he’ll go after next. Surely Trump can think of new insults and slurs for Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, and a host of nationalities in Europe and Africa, too. Will he say the N-word? The possibilities are legion. But Trump-ites will just slam critics for being “too politically correct.”
Some of those who attend Trump rallies — and there are lots of people there, even if some have come solely out of curiosity — have shouted, “WHITE POWER!” or passed out copies of a white supremacist newspaper. One woman in a GOP focus group gushed that “His goal is to make America great again! It’s on his hat!” (Well, if it’s on his hat, it must be true.) There’s also a ringing endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and white supremacist David Duke, saying that Trump is the best candidate around, that he “understands the real sentiment of America.”
In a recent post, the Southern Poverty Law Center listed Duke’s endorsement and those of other known white supremacists, who are praising the Donald and his immigration plan on their racist websites. In what the SPLC called Trump’s “war on immigrants,” the post warned that “specifically targeting minority communities and whipping up a climate of fear and bigotry can have very real negative results,” such as the recent beating of a homeless Hispanic man in Boston, whose two white attackers then urinated on him. “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” one of the attackers told police. One white supremacist even wants to name an all-white town in North Dakota after Donald Trump.
Will there be a point of no return for Trump and his campaign? A point where he gets so insulting to so many that his candidacy will finally implode, left only with those on the far right? And where will the other Republican candidates be then?
It doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. But I have a feeling it finally may happen on Monday, Feb. 1. That’s the night of the Iowa caucuses, when actual voters will look at themselves and their neighbors and say:
“What the hell were we thinking? We can’t actually vote for this clown.”