Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Genius of Donald Trump: Marketing White Racial Resentments

Donald Trump, if nothing else is a genius at marketing. Early in the Obama Presidency, he sensed the profound discontent many whites in the US felt about having a Black president, and began appealing to their fear and paranoia by questioning the President's citizenship, his religious beliefs, even his qualifications for getting admitted to top colleges. In the short run, this didn't work. Trump was quickly sidelined as a Republican candidate in the 2012 primaries. But by the final year of the Obama Presidency, Trump's positioning himself as the ultimate Anti-Obama candidate had begun to pay dividends with the traditional Republican constituency and some blue collar Democrats. Make no mistake about it, Donald Trump's major political currency is an appeal to whites who fear they are losing "their" country due to immigration and changing marriage patterns which are leading to the gradual "browning" of America, a phenomenon perfectly embodied by a mixed race President who managed to win two terms in office.
I wish this were not the case. I wish the Trump campaign was built around an array of principled issues regarding the direction of US foreign and domestic policy. Those elements are there. But anyone who ignores the symbolic subtext of white racial resentments that Mr Trump has shrewdly tapped is missing a powerful source of passion and energy in his campaign- most visible in his rallies, but also there for anyone to see on social media.
Where those white racial resentments come from is a subject that requires deep exploration, with liberal and left wing condescension to blue collar and poor whites being one contributing force. But the power of the white racial resentments Mr Trump is tapping should be a warning that we are living in difficult times, when it comes to race, and those times will not be improving any time soon