Tell Me Again It Isn’t All About Race

The latest polling has Donald Trump at 33% approval. Most of the rest of us find it incomprehensible that anyone approves of this profoundly damaged and embarrassing man or his Keystone Kop administration. The folks that Molly Ivins used to call the “Chattering Classes” have filled column inches, airwaves and much of the Internet with efforts to explain his election and the continued loyalty of his rabid base.

The more I read, the more convinced I become that Trump owes that victory and that loyalty to what scholars delicately term “racial resentment.” There were certainly lifelong Republicans and Hillary haters who held their noses and voted for him; their defections account for the steady erosion of his support.  His remaining base, however, is composed of the people who understood that “Make America Great Again” was (none-too-subtle) code for “Make America White Again.”

As his poll results decline and his troubles mount, Trump needs to feed and energize that base. So his administration is ratcheting up his war on immigrants (especially brown and Muslim ones), throwing some red meat to anti-Semites, and promising to protect those poor, oppressed white people from “reverse” discrimination.

As Paul Waldman writes,

To many people reading this, the idea that white people are being discriminated against in higher education — or anywhere else — is absurd. The idea that discrimination against whites is such a significant problem that it demands Justice Department action is positively ludicrous. But we should understand that this is exactly the kind of thing many of Trump’s voters wanted him to deliver. And the administration will be only too pleased to hear the condemnations from the left over this initiative.

That’s not to say that the policy doesn’t have its origins in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s sincerely felt belief that white folks can’t catch a break in America. I’m sure it does. But it’s also part of a long and extraordinarily successful Republican project to convince white voters that minorities in general and African Americans in particular enjoy a panoply of free benefits from the government that make their lives comfortable and easy. It’s a lie, but it’s extraordinarily widespread.

Waldman reminds us that regular viewers of Fox News, readers of Breitbart, and fans of Rush Limbaugh and his ilk are constantly inundated with “evidence” supporting white racial grievance. It’s a central theme in the media that shapes conservative reality.

Hate groups and so-called “alt-right” organizations have grown dramatically since the Presidential campaign–a campaign that saw Trump endorsed by the KKK, David Duke and other panicky “race warriors” who had slithered from under their rocks to revile and demean an African-American President.

The Guardian recently reported on a gathering in Tennessee of one such group.

This weekend, American Renaissance held its annual conference at a venue in Montgomery Bell state park, an hour west of Nashville, Tennessee. Attendees and speakers clearly felt a growing confidence. They have seen appreciable growth in membership of established and emerging far-right groups. They have also seen the election as president of Donald Trump.

Speakers at the event addressed subjects including “Race realism and race denialism” and “Has the white man turned the corner?” One considered “The Trump report card – so far”….

Many were millennials. Though all attendees wore conference dress code – jacket and tie – more than a few younger men sported the “fashy haircut”, short back and sides with a severe parting, which has become a signature of the so-called alt-right.

Many such young men lined up for selfies with Richard Spencer, the president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute thinktank who has achieved fame since greeting the election result with a cry of “Hail Trump”.

This resurgence of open, unapologetic racism is profoundly depressing. Like most sentient Americans, I realized that these attitudes still existed, but I’ve been appalled by how widespread and overt their expression has become in the Age of Trump.

When Trump’s poll numbers finally bottom out, we’ll have a pretty good idea what percentage of our fellow citizens are willing to jettison American ideals in return for continued White Christian privilege.


  1. Since racial discrimination for $$ is anti-Constitutional throughout Humanity, there are not a lot of takers at the polls for color candidates or at the employment offices or universities, either. In fact, my mail-order insurance company provided a statement in 17 languages to the effect that discriminatory treatment is not compatible with equal Human rights employment and opportunities. If clerks as young as 18 years can typeset those 16 imported styles, English included, and one Indigenous, I do not think they will be marrying Kops.

  2. Amen and after they have cleaned up the ‘race’ issue it will be about women.
    How small their circle is.

  3. NEWS FLASH: They’re alive and well.

    A prosperous deacon of a Hamilton County church in a conversation with me about trickle down economic theory said, “Okay, it don’t work, and I don’t want it to work. What the economy ought to do is cut everyone’s income by $25,000. The good Lord knows I’d survive, but we all know who wouldn’t.”

    A former head of the KKK in Indiana had an even more lethal idea: “What America needs are finical anti-biotics,” he told me.

    “What?” I asked. “Finical anti-biotics? I’m missing something.”

    “Yeah, finical. Persnickety. Selective. Discriminating. You know, antibiotics that only work on white people.”

  4. “Those whites” are terrified that they might some day be the minority and might be treated the same terrible way that they have always treated people with darker skin.

    Losing their position of racial power is never going to be an option and shame on the ignorant white women who agree with their men.

  5. Larry – how do you find those racists? Are they business leaders? Members of some fanatical church? Are they out in the open and everywhere in Hamilton county? The vocabulary you described them as using sounds like words used by the least educated whites in rural areas.

  6. Don’t assume the whites who fear people of color and want to cling to supremacy are uneducated! I was shocked after Obama was first elected to overhear a wealthy white woman, the epitome of respectability and culture, tell a friend that she had bought a gun for “protection” in the coming race war. There is something deep in the psyche of many whites that fears all people of color. Their very sense of identity seems to be built on racism, and the news that whites will soon be a minority in this country scares them to death.

  7. It’s BLACK AUGUST, again. Since 1979. Slavery is alive and stinks.

  8. It isn’t just race. It is combined with a pernicious ideology that protects the successful against all others. Based on simplistic economics (sometimes called 101ism or economism), it goes beyond “winner take all” to “winner should take all.” You can see the modern intellectual roots going back to James Buchanan in the 1950s and 1960s. In short: winners are “makers” and all other are “takers,” especially those who don’t look like “us.” Race plays into this because you can blame the “others” for the misfortune that economism produces for many (maybe most) of our citizens.
    You can see the outlines in policies on:
    • Intellectual property, which continue to strengthen and lengthen even to the point of reducing innovation. For example, we pay twice what other nations pay for drugs because we grant long monopolies on new drugs, outlaw re-importation, and prohibit our government from negotiating drug prices. In software, most of Bill Gates’ $ 90 billion in wealth is the result of our IP protections.
    • Tax policy – especially the “carried interest” provision.
    • Trade agreements, which are less about trade and more about imposing our intellectual property regime and financial services on other countries. Note also that the trade agreements put our manufacturing laborers in competition with the world while protecting our professionals via local licensing.
    • Consumer protection is to be weakened because it “interferes” with the market (by requiring honesty!)
    • Right to work laws in order to reduce labor income and increase profits for the “winners.
    • Healthcare, where the underlying goal is to reduce takes on the “makers” at the expense of all others.
    And the beat goes on!

  9. I have reached the same conclusion. It may not cure anything, but to feel superior to someone “not like me” seems to give, at least, a temporary high to some. The GOP has been applying that tactic since 1968, Nixon and the “southern strategy.” Shame on us!

  10. And when the short-fingered vulgarian is forced out of office, this repulsive lot will get to partner up with Mikey’s theocracy. We Democrats had better get our shit together soon. Time’s getting short.

  11. If Donald Trump were a racist, that would imply some level of commitment to a belief other than the greater glorification of Donald Trump. It might also suggest that his narcissism, paranoia, compulsive disorders, and his gratuitous lying abated long enough for him to think about something other than Donald Trump. Since I don’t consider either of these possibilities realistic, I have concluded that like most other things that emanate from his pie hole, they come from elsewhere. Bannon and Sessions are the most probable authors of any racist babble we hear from Trump, but in his circle of friends, all are candidates.

  12. I really don’t want to believe this, I know that the majority of the people on my friends list are white and I also know that they don’t subscribe to this… but I also know too many who do, so I have to acknowledge that the sentiments being expressed here are real.
    I am not sure how white Christian Evangelicalism ties in to the White Privilege/Supremacy ideologies, but I know too many rabid Trump Supporters who wear all three badges.
    I don’t know how to get through to them, I don’t even know if it is possible to get through to them. The hardest part will be to convince them that they are wrong, because the indoctrination they received that proves that their beliefs are righteous was self induced. They sought out the data that supports what they already knew to be true and found ways to reject any data that raised doubt. They want to believe that they are blessed by God, genetically superior, morally pure, deserving, privileged… the Chosen Ones. They won’t say that out loud, at least most of them won’t, but in their hearts they know it must be true.
    Whatever happens, we are going to have to find a way to get through to them because they aren’t going to go away regardless of what happens with Trumps berserker juggernaut.

  13. Unfortunately condemmimg condemning racism, satisfying though it may be, is counterproductive. Racists thrive on being hated for it. It feeds their own anger which is at the base of their dysfunction.

    As was found in the 60s the power to deflate it must come from laws and Federal Government policy, and we know what that entails.

    The answer is in voting booths.

  14. Since Trump was elected. I have found myself reading political posts that I do not usually agree with. While Obama was in office, I mostly read posts favorable to him. I have discovered a world of hate I didn’t know existed in such numbers. The vitriol and racist remarks directed at the Obamas was horrifying. The stories created to put down Hillary were created by Republicans and Right Wing journalists who depicted her as corrupt, immoral and murderous. I am disappointed in the American people.

  15. First let me say I was back in 1960’s and early 1970’s in three different unions. Unions are not pristine organizations, but neither is Wall Street with all their fraud and even the Catholic Church had a long history of covering up sexual crimes.

    That said the UAW attempted to unionize a Nissan Plant down in Mississippi, 80% of whose employees are African American. Former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and the actor Danny Glover, took part in the “March on Mississippi” in support of unionization at Nissan in the spring.

    Nissan workers in Canton, Mississippi, voted against unionizing on Friday by a margin of 2,244 to 1,307.

    You might think the Democrats would have made this an all court press, after all the Democratic Party has taken millions in dollars over the years from Unions and counted on Working Class Blue Collar Votes. Ex-President Obama should have been there leading the call for Unionization of the Plant, he should have demonstrated solidarity with Unions and Workers. Instead like most of the Corporate Democratic Party they are missing action when they have a chance to change course.

  16. Louie at 2:04pm
    And what about the Republicans unmentioned in your post? Among Republicans are there no unions? Do they object to union membership under duress?
    Where are my fellow Americans in this dialog between Democrats and Republicans?

  17. Donald Trump was raised by a father who reportedly was a member of the KKK and who did his father’s work to keep racial minorities out of their real estate properties back in the 70’s. Trump has never fallen far from that tree, though he does make exceptions for Muslims and blacks who are wealthy – VERY wealthy and sometimes famous as well – who can grant something Donald Trump wants – money or fame or power or all 3.

  18. Dear Ms. Kennedy,
    Please what ever you do – DO NOT STOP BLOGGING! We need your voice – we need the voices of people of reason, dignity, and who are civic minded – socially responsible. Your voice is a voice against un-reason! Thank you.
    a reader in the Northwoods of Minnesota.

  19. I’ve been thinking that we need to do more ethnic “meet and greets”. We have a monthly group Politics and Potables and often the subject is race and racial views. Not only is the discussion enlightening, it is often the most ethnic people that learn the most about each other and how their views vary so vastly just because of a couple of years difference in age. We all need to actually SEE each other and realize that we are all very different and learn to embrace it. I highly encourage everyone to introduce more ethnicity into any circle that you are involved in.

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