The following is a PoliticusUSA editorial by co-publisher and managing editor Sarah Jones.
That’s quite a feat for a Republican. How did he do it? Doing exactly what Trump has always done.
The birther who became president has consistently behaved in ways that suggest he believes in white supremacy.
Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said on Frontline that Trump and his family subscribe to “a racehorse theory of human development.”
It has been suggested that Trump kept a book of Hitler’s collected speeches in a cabinet next to his bed. Trump denied this but then claimed a friend -“and he’s a Jew” – gave him the book. Then he denied reading it:
“Did your cousin John give you the Hitler speeches?” I asked Trump.
Trump hesitated. “Who told you that?”
“I don’t remember,” I said.
“Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of Mein Kampf, and he’s a Jew.” (“I did give him a book about Hitler,” Marty Davis said. “But it was My New Order, Hitler’s speeches, not Mein Kampf. I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.”)
Later, Trump returned to this subject. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”
Trump has been sued for discrimination. Trump refused to believe that the first black president was born in the United States, even after seeing his birth certificate. Trump offered to pay the legal fees of his supporters who beat up minority protesters. Trump claimed Mexicans were rapists and a Mexican judge couldn’t do his job.
These are but a few of the clues Trump offered his party, his supporters, the media, and the voters about who he is and what he believes. Before he was elected. Anyone who still supported him after those events supports his racism enough to elect it to the White House, and thus to the highest office in the land.
After eight years of Republicans accusing President Barack Obama of dividing the country – that is to say, blaming Obama for their reaction to his election – it is actually Donald Trump, the whitest of white Republicans, who is actually dividing the country.
Donald Trump is a racist, but even worse than that, he is a person who uses racism as a political tool.
Donald Trump can’t do much without the support of racists and those who fall victim to blaming minorities for their own lot in life. This is his base. Trump grooms resentment, honing it with such dedication that it can’t be an accident.
It’s not an accident.
While some Republicans are finally starting to stand up to Trump’s racism after his defense of neo-Nazis and white supremacists after a woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, the fact of the matter is Donald Trump is the natural reaction to their years of Southern Strategy.
The dog whistles of “state’s rights” and “welfare queens” gave way to Republican 2008 VP nominee Sarah Palin’s screeching racism as she, riding along with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), faced off against the first black candidate for the presidency. This was the undeniable warning sign for Republicans that their party needed a come to Jesus moment.
But Republicans ignored it, and instead rode the heady and easy waves of obstruction and white entitlement and resentment for eight years under President Obama, catering to the lowest common denominator.
When Sarah Palin told her base to stop those with an Obama sticker on their car after a car was run off of the road because of an Obama Biden sticker, they shrugged. After Gabby Giffords was shot, they shrugged. It had nothing to do with them, they said. Bad apples. Not political, even though Sarah Palin was preaching, “Don’t retreat, reload!” and sending out maps with crosshairs over the districts of Giffords and others because of their stance on Obamacare.
Is it Republicans’ fault directly? Of course not. But a grown up doesn’t take refuge in such cowardice. Not being directly responsible for something doesn’t mean you don’t take responsibility for contributing, for not condemning the increasingly violent rhetoric, and it doesn’t mean you ignore the warning because it’s working for you politically.
The Right loves to hate the Left for calling them “racists.” They stroke (yes, stroke, like a lover) this resentment, as if it is a bigger injury than racism, as if it would somehow harm them to consider another point of view for a moment. The sin of calling out racism is much worse, in their minds, than the sin of actually being a racist.
Ironically, only a racist could embrace this ode to white persecution. Because in truth, we are all racists to a degree. We, as a nation and even a species, have a lot of work to do to grow into the kind of human beings who really understand that our value is not based on our physicality. But this doesn’t mean “both sides do it”; protesting neo-Nazis is not the same as marching with neo-Nazis.
The Left didn’t accuse Trump of “racism” as a gotcha. They did it because Trump was behaving in harmful ways, tossing a match onto the gasoline of his own party’s Southern Strategy.
The Left actually cares about racism because they, while as imperfect as the Right, recognize that it is inherently wrong to hate based on genetics and physicality.
That is not the same thing as hating based on a belief system, although I don’t advocate hating anyone.
But if hate is ever appropriate, it is based on behavior, actions, and beliefs that lead to evil, such as the behavior, actions, and beliefs of the Nazis.
It is not wrong to take a stand against evil. While some are happy to use it as such, it is much larger than a political strategy. It is not coming from a place of political calculation. It is coming from a dedication to humanity and the planet and to learning from our mistakes.
We take a stand against actions and beliefs that lead to evil because we know to be silent is to condone.
We welcome Republicans who have joined us in taking a stand, but it would be enabling to fail to mention how they got here. Trump’s racism didn’t just happen to the Republican Party. They grew this the hard way and the only way to root it out is to face this fact.
Being against Nazis and white supremacists should not be a political “side” in the United States, but the fact that it is a political side is the result of Republican strategies to win votes by appealing to white resentment; not because the Left likes to call people racists for no reason.
The way out of this mess for Republicans is to stop blaming the Left for calling Republicans out for their Southern Strategy. The call out is not the problem; The problem is their willful use of racism as a political strategy has given birth to a President who is siding with Nazis and white supremacists.
… Which should surprise no one, because Trump made one of them White House Chief Strategist.
Republicans need to take personal responsibility for their cultivated resurrection of racism so that they can reestablish the moral authority to govern. As it stands right now, the Republican Party has enabled a president who in turn enables neo-Nazis and white supremacists. That’s as far away from moral authority as it gets.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.