National Journal: Racism and the Support for Trump

From Michael J. Mishak writing at the National Journal:

In Amer­ic­an polit­ics, few charges carry more weight than when one pub­lic fig­ure ac­cuses an­oth­er of be­ing a ra­cist, with re­per­cus­sions so great that most politi­cians prefer to dance around the top­ic en­tirely. But in at­tack­ing Don­ald Trump, crit­ics on his left and right are in­creas­ingly will­ing to make the leap.

Demo­crat­ic Sen. Bernie Sanders has blas­ted Trump for “old-fash­ioned ra­cism.” When the Re­pub­lic­an front-run­ner on Monday called for bar­ring all Muslims from en­ter­ing the U.S., Hil­lary Clin­ton called it “rep­re­hens­ible, pre­ju­diced, and di­vis­ive.” Among his most ar­dent Re­pub­lic­an crit­ics is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who re­cently at­tacked Trump with an ad in­vok­ing Nazi Ger­many, cit­ing the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man’s on­go­ing at­tacks on eth­nic minor­it­ies. Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Dana Mil­bank was most dir­ect, titling a re­cent piece: “Don­ald Trump is a big­ot and a ra­cist.”

It’s not that Trump’s ac­cusers lack evid­ence. Monday’s call for “a total and com­plete shut­down of Muslims en­ter­ing the United States” is only the latest in a long line of at­tacks against non­whites and non-Chris­ti­ans since Trump began his cam­paign. He has called Mex­ic­an im­mig­rants rap­ists and mur­der­ers; af­firmed a phys­ic­al at­tack on a Black Lives Mat­ter pro­test­er at one of his ral­lies; flir­ted with an en­dorse­ment of a re­gistry for all U.S. Muslims; and re­peatedly as­ser­ted a widely-de­bunked claim that “thou­sands” of Muslims in New Jer­sey were seen cel­eb­rat­ing in the streets after the 9/11 at­tacks.

If Trump’s rhet­or­ic has dis­gus­ted the Mil­banks, Kasichs and Clin­tons of the world, it cer­tainly hasn’t knocked Trump from his perch atop the polls. Ac­cord­ing to a new CNN/ORC poll, Trump now has the sup­port of 36 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans and GOP-lean­ing in­de­pend­ents, nearly a 10-point jump in the last month.

What’s less clear, however, is how Trump’s rhet­or­ic on race and his on­go­ing pop­ular­ity are re­lated. In short, are Trump’s sup­port­ers with him be­cause he’s say­ing the ra­cist things oth­er can­did­ates won’t, or is it something else that has helped Trump build his move­ment?

Read the rest at National Journal


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