A theory about why Trump is making a point of looking racist

When Steve Bannon left the White House, he made a remark that generated a piece in the NYTimes asking "What if he's right?" The remark was that if the Democrats concentrated on racism, the Republicans would win the midterm elections. The more Democrats get distracted from economics, the easier it is for Republicans.

Why? Mainly because a lot of racism conversations center a lot on PC, and PC appears to be what conservatives hate about liberals above all else - PC demonizes them and they view it as a violation of Free Speech. PC is what enables White guys to feel like victims, and nothing activates people like perceived victimhood. And these White guys are angry enough about it not only to vote for Trump but to continue supporting him in spite of everything, no matter what he does.

If Trump buys into what Bannon said, and keep in mind that Bannon had a lot to do with Trump's wildly improbable win in 2016, what's the most logical thing he can do to get reelected? Keep the Democrats focused on racism, which costs Trump nothing with his angry core voters; and especially keep the forces most worried about PC as active as possible and as extreme as possible.

I can't tell you if Trump is smart enough to take Bannon's advice. All I can tell you is that this hypothesis does something nothing else I've seen does: It makes a whole lot of Trump's behavior make complete sense.

He can't look like a completely blatant racist. He needs a little deniability.

The extent to which he needs to look like one is the extent to which he continues to let the White guys know that he considers them to be victims.

This is how he conducted his campaign. This is why he treated Black Lives Matter like this, it's why he suggested the Muslim ban, it's why he's overwhelmingly supportive of whatever the police do, and it's why he pushed the Wall. Hell, this even accounts for the whole Happy Holidays/War on Christmas idiocy.

It is electorally more important for him to keep reinforcing that he knows White guys are victims than it is for him to appear honest, competent, or ethical.

Look at how Trump handled Charlottesville. He was very careful, even to the point of reversing himself, to cast the KKK and Nazis as victims as well as as perpetrators.

Look particularly at the statues issue. The statues issue is perfect for him because it's one area where liberals are guaranteed to overreach to the point of making White guys feel like victims, playing right into Trump's hands. There's a distinction to be drawn about statues, one I've made myself and one I've heard on the Daily Show: It is one thing to remove or move statues of people whose primary claim to fame is treason in the cause of preserving slavery; it's quite another to remove monuments of all sorts to people famous for doing great things for America but who also did awful things, like owning slaves. We've already seen this is Britain recently where there has been an outcry to take down a statue of Admiral Nelson because he treated Indians (Asian, not American)terribly. So many Americans key to founding and preserving the United States did terrible things or were racists (including Lincoln)that if we de-memorialize them all we'll have very few people left to thank for giving us and preserving our country. Going down this road will make White guy victimhood skyrocket as they say all these Others are targeting every eminent White male historical figure and will tear down the Washington Monument and rename anything and everywhere named after Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Columbus.

Whether or not this is true, it will be a great tool to get out the vote because there normally aren't liberal voices correcting liberal excesses - the excesses are too unimportant to us, even if we disagree with them. That means we can be painted as agreeing or at least as complicit. This was the case for flag burning, an issue which was used successfully for Republican organizing/fundraising for decades.

So what do we do? If we just ignore racism, we could be in for a year and a half of more Trayvon Martins.

If White guys are responsible for getting Trump and other Republicans elected, we have to figure out how to shake some of these White guys loose. Concentrating on economic issues is one way. Another has to do with how we talk about racism.

Basic psychology will tell you that people are least receptive while being attacked. Being attacked makes people defensive, and conceding a point while being attacked is usually humiliating. If we're going to shake any of these voters loose, we need them receptive.

If you were to ask Trump-supporting White guys what they thought of feminism, they'd probably give you an answer involving "feminazis" or something along those lines. However, I think if you asked most of them if women not getting equal pay for equal work was right, they'd tell you No, it isn't.

It matters how we frame things. It matters what terminology we use and also what terminology we avoid, but avoiding terminology does not meet avoiding ideas.

The objection I'm likely to hear is that these White guys don't deserve our sensitivity. True, but irrelevant because we deserve a better government and, in order to get one, we need their votes. It is a mistake to assume that we can't get them - not all of them, but enough of them. If we couldn't, Obama could not have been elected once. He was elected twice.

They're not all monsters. Some of them, sure, like the guys who marched in Charlottesville and the President who gave them his support. A whole lot of them may be insensitive self-centered jerks but some of those jerks have consciences and some of them are concerned with justice where they see it.

If we want to win elections, helping them see it would be a good idea.

Views: 229

Comment by alsoknownas on September 2, 2017 at 7:02am

It would seem that the Horns of the Bull can be quite effective even if the weapons of choice aren't spears.

It's best to keep an eye on the sidelines.

Comment by Rosigami on September 2, 2017 at 7:55am

This does make a lot of sense. 
In the meantime, he wears the country down and causes damage that will take a very long time to fix. 
I hope the Democrats can get their act together. 

Comment by koshersalaami on September 2, 2017 at 8:29am

So do I, which is one of the reasons I write stuff like this

Comment by Anna Herrington on September 2, 2017 at 8:45am

Hmmm.... makes sense to me, too, if there's anything to 'crazy like a fox' going on with him, which is also up for unending debate, it seems.

Meanwhile, I've been on a slow burn at the photos of 45 and FLOTUS showing up in Texas wearing available merchandise, using historic disaster as a means of advertising a la QVC or something. Just sick. and disgusting. 

Comment by Anna Herrington on September 2, 2017 at 8:56am

...although, when 45 is smirking while teleprompting someone's words he's told he must say, he makes obvious he didn't write the words or want to say them, the smirk being for *his* people. He really doesn't come off to me as using calculating effect of using racism to steer others as much as he seems most comfortable and genuine when he's being his *actual racist-as-hell* self.

Seems more like the calculating aspect really is those others behind scenes using Trump's natural racism for calculating effect....and Trump plays into it perfectly just by being his spontaneous tweeting self.

Comment by Ron Powell on September 2, 2017 at 9:19am

Whatever happened to Racism = Bad Economics?

We cannot afford to be light hearted, light headed, or light handed while we are engaged in the struggle to remove the heavy hand of race based and racially motivated oppression from our backs, our minds, and our spirit.

Which of your children would you be willing to sacrifice to that kind of bullshit?

Comment by ABG 2.0 on September 2, 2017 at 10:06am

not giving much credit to the non alt right now are you?

all that's needed to defeat the left is good voter turn out with a candidate that's worth a fuck!

and the winner needs to have the support of the DNC ... case point; just how effective is trump even though the GOP controls both houses?

it would be the same if hillary or bernie had won ... without the support of the house and/or senate the president is a lame duck from day one.

the revolution of the 60s 70s and 80s failed to achieve higher ground as the activists became complacent with several small changes rather than a total win

donnie and his redneck racists holier than thou base are forgetting one significant point ...

this country's military isn't just republicans ...

Comment by Ron Powell on September 2, 2017 at 10:58am

The "average white guy " is certainly a,victim.

He is a victim of his own ignorance and stupidity re matters of racial equality and social justice. The constant and continuous explotation of the racist reflex and instinct.

The "average white guy"  must be made to see and understand that he as been duped and conned for centuries and thatunless and until he opens his eyes and refuses to be misled and blinded by his own bigotry and hatred as manipuled and orchestrated by the Trumps of the world we all suffer and lose....

If we can't prevail with the facts and the truth then there can be no hope for any of us.

That is especially true and goes double for "the average white guy" who will soon become the numerical minority in America.

Comment by koshersalaami on September 2, 2017 at 11:11am

The average White guy can't be made to understand anything if he isn't listening. If he isn't listening, we get Trump. Getting him to listen is important. 

Comment by Foolish Monkey on September 2, 2017 at 12:32pm

I see Trump as entirely intuitive - AND a racist.  Until he won the presidency, I never believed he was a racist - I was a NYer and he was as much a part of the news as any local celebrity and I never got a sense of him as a racist.  I thought he was dumb but not hateful.  

Speaking of dumb, when he started that birther thing, I thought it was a mantle he put on to create his own "party" or base but I've come to believe he has proven himself to as racist as any KKKer.  Unless a POC is wealthy, which is the great equalizer with Trump - you have money, you're in his club.  well, you might not get the best table, but you're in and you can order cake. He's all about appearances and I suspect he doesn't feel colorful people are the right color.  He's Aryan to the bone.  But I also suspect he doesnt THINK he's a racist.  He probably thinks hes a pragmatist.

I don't think he wishes POCs ill.  I think he just wishes they'd go somewhere else and stop bothering him.

I think Bannon isn't so much a racist.  He's about isolationist policies.  He's also about the workign class.  I think he doesnt much give a damn what color they are, so much as their class.  

I think more of Bannon than I do of Trump, believe it or not.  Bannon actually created something.  Trump did a lot of stealing to get what he has, assuming he actually HAS something.   His holdings might be nothing more than a lot of leveraged paper. 

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