ASKIAM and Brian Muhammad FinalCall Staffers
WASHINGTON – The “dog whistle style” of racist campaigning being waged by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump may be both an underestimation of how deep the resentment is for the election of President Barack Obama by so-called “angry White males,” while at the same time it’s an exaggeration of the true national electoral power of that racist mindset in 21st Century America.
“Unfortunately, I think he is (for real), much to his (own) surprise. I don’t think that he really intended to generate this much traction when he first started his campaign,” political scientist Dr. Wilmer Leon, host of “On With Leon,” heard on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio told The Final Call. “This is at least his second effort. He dabbled with it in 2012. He dabbled with it in 2008, and now he has finally put his name into contention. I think he’s speaking to a lot of the constituency that Sarah Palin spoke to–anti-intellectual; very, very broad on generalities; very few specifics. He now could very well wind up, if not getting the Republican nomination he’s going to be in contention for much longer than anybody initially thought.”
At the same time, when he doubled-down on his insults of Mexican-Americans and the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country by ejecting Univision star anchor Jorge Ramos from a press conference–admitting that he didn’t even know that Mr. Ramos is known as the “Walter Cronkite of Hispanic News”–Mr. Trump signaled his open dislike for the Latino community, a group whose power at the ballot box is growing with each cycle.
“When Jorge Ramos was being escorted out of the room for demanding for his rights, it was as if every other Latino American was being escorted out of the room for demanding for their rights,” Luis Alvarado, a GOP consultant, told Tierney Sneed of Talking Points Memo.
“That was dog whistle politics at its finest,” said Ali Valenzuela, a political scientist specializing Latino Studies at Princeton University. “Any racially resentful or bigoted individual American knew exactly what Trump meant when he told Ramos to ‘go back to Univision.’ ”
Latinos under siege
What Mr. Trump may not have been taking into account however, is that, “He’s talking about the fastest growing electoral block in the U.S.,” Mr. Ramos told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly. Ms. Kelly, who herself had been the target of a Trump outburst which sounded grossly offensive to women’s menstrual moods, had asked whether Mr. Ramos understood why the GOP candidate might not want to answer his questions on immigration, given his bad blood with Univision. The network cancelled its deal to broadcast Mr. Trump’s “Miss America” beauty pageant on its network after his first outburst calling Mexicans in this country “criminals” and “rapists.”
“He’s talking about 16 million Latinos that will go to the polls and might decide the next election. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t like it. There are questions that need to be answered,” Mr. Ramos said.
“It’s that demographic shift that is, I believe, galvanizing the White male, and that’s why Donald Trump’s message is resonating with that constituency,” Dr. Leon said. “It’s no accident that you also see Donald Trump sending some trial balloons with a Southern Strategy, going down to Alabama and looking at the turnout that he got in Alabama.”
Republican candidates–led by Mr. Trump–are not taking these factors into account, however, when it comes to a strategy for winning the national election. “The shrinking-White-male demographic is a huge issue for the Republican Party, and a big miscalculation that they’re making is, I think that they’re still trying to galvanize that shrinking constituency, instead of recognizing that they really need to focus on the broader political demographic landscape in this country and start actually developing some substantive policies that are going to be inclusionary for all Americans, instead of trying to promote this empty, cultural identity politics that they continue to play,” Dr. Leon continued.
The Trump “bandwagon” only takes into account one half of the total electorate. “It’s all very important though, when we look at (Mr. Trump’s) numbers, we have to really understand what’s behind these numbers. Who’s being polled? Because Donald Trump is not really getting 25 or 27 percent of the national electorate. He’s getting 25 or 27 percent of that very narrow constituency of Republicans that are being polled,” Dr. Leon continued.
“I think what we’re really seeing with Donald Trump is the culmination of what the Republican Party has been taking us to since the election of President Obama. They started out as the ‘Party of No.’ They made a very calculated decision to obstruct the president and oppose the president at every turn, bringing this country’s government to a standstill.
“And now the people are throwing their hands in the air and just saying, ‘Enough of this. We want someone that will at least say something.’ And so he is saying something, and he’s speaking to the sentiments of what Dr. (Ronald) Walters talked about in his book ‘White Nationalism; Black Interests,’ where he talked about the politics of resentment, and that’s really what we’re seeing here.”
Mr. Trump’s hostility toward Latinos, his endorsement by former Ku Klux Klan leader and failed politician David Duke, who is now a radio talk show host has become emblematic of his freewheeling campaign style, but what is really a nativist, White nationalistic sentiment running through his messaging and throughout the Republican presidential field.
Ironically, after their 2012 electoral defeat the GOP commissioned what it called an “autopsy” on the campaign. That autopsy said: “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence.” It is a problem analysts predict, which will poison the entire Republican field in the 2016 race, regardless of who is the eventual nominee.
At Final Call press time, Monmouth University Poll found Ben Carson, with his own brand of conservatism, was tied with Mr. Trump among Iowa Republican caucus participants. Each garnered 23 percent support among voters followed by Carly Fiorina with 10 percent and Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, getting nine percent support.
Make America great for who?
Donald Trump’s popularity has soared as he vows to “Make America Great Again” but what about the ugly racial tenor of his campaign, his talk of rebuilding America’s military might and having America dominate the world and what does his popularity mean for Black people and are the Democrats offering anything different for 2016?
The 2016 presidential primary political slugfest showcases growing support for anti-establishment candidates like the multi-billionaire Trump on one hand and Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Democrat on the other hand. While some doubt either will ultimately win their party’s nomination, Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders are drawing rock star crowds on campaign stumping grounds.
“Donald Trump is one of the warm up acts, and on the other team, Bernie Sanders is a warm up act too,” said Bill Dixon, managing editor of the online BlackAgendaReport.com in a telephone interview with The Final Call.
Mr. Dixon is a critic of both parties and likened the current campaign to a comedy show where Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders are hype men for who the nominees will eventually be, he said.
Appeals to a fed up electorate?
In an Aug. 24 post on FaceBook titled “Why I Endorse Brother Bernie and Reject Brother Trump,” Dr. Cornell West, professor emeritus at Princeton University and renowned scholar and author wrote, “Brother Bernie and Brother Trump are authentic human beings in stark contrast to their donor-driven opponents.”
Dr. West further wrote that both men are “for real” but differ on the question of “integrity” and view of America’s disenfranchised. He said Mr. Sanders has “authenticity and integrity,” whereas “Trump is for real but not for right,” and accused Mr. Trump of being part of America’s political problem.
“Trump’s unpatriotic complicity with the plutocratic corruption of our political system for over 30 years calls into question his integrity, including his commitment to ‘make America great again,’ ” he wrote.
According to opinion polls Mr. Trump has lead his GOP competition across demographic categories. In an Aug. 25 New Hampshire poll conducted by Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling; “Trump’s advantage over the Republican field is thorough.”
He led with Tea Party voters (44 percent), men (39 percent), independents (36 percent), conservatives (36 percent), voters who are most concerned about electability (35 percent), both younger voters and seniors (at 34 percent with each), evangelicals (32 percent), women (30 percent), and moderates (29 percent).
The polling firm said Mr. Trump had a 56/32 favorability rating and lead when you match him against other Republican hopefuls head to head. It’s 47/39 over Ben Carson, 53/35 over Scott Walker, 53/34 over Marco Rubio, and 56/33 over Jeb Bush.
Mr. Trump’s abrasive, frank and aggressive way of expression and what some consider extreme views on immigration; vowing mass deportations and construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border resonates with many White Americans. The attraction could be understood as Mr. Trump giving a voice to a concealed attitude of White supremacy and fear, said Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.
“The Donald Trump phenomenon reveals the grimy seams of White supremacy,” he said. “A significant percentage of the Euro-American population is concerned about maintaining and perpetuating a so-called White majority so they can maintain and perpetuate White supremacy,” he said. Mr. Trump taps into that sentiment.
White fear and Trump politics
Trump supporter and author Jared Taylor, a White power advocate and publisher of the online race magazine American Renaissance agrees that White enthusiasm for Mr. Trump stems from an unspoken fear concerning the future of White people. He sees Mr. Trump as a last chance for Whites to vote for a president who could actually do something useful for them and the country. In an Aug. 26 interview with BuzzFeed News, Mr. Taylor said his support for Mr. Trump is based on his desire for Whites to remain the majority racial group in America.
“Why should whites want to be a minority?” Mr. Taylor asked. “Answer me that question. Why should we want to celebrate diversity when celebrating diversity means celebrating our dwindling numbers and influence? And to the extent that Trump succeeds in putting the brakes on immigration, he will also be succeeding at reducing the speed with which whites are reduced to a minority.” This is the way “that all whites feel,” Mr. Taylor told Newsfeed, “We just never dare say so.”
Dr. Horne said it’s worth noting that the landscape of the American population has countless numbers of undocumented European immigrants, but the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Mr. Trump is focused on Mexicans–which is not by accident.
Mr. Trump has gained folk hero like status among Whites from social conservatives to the far right and those on the fringe. But he is “dangerous to the status quo” because he is self-financed and independent. He is energizing an electorate dissatisfied with politicians tied to special interests and dependent on big money and “king makers,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam Aug. 20, in a Memphis speech during his organizing tour for the upcoming 20th anniversary gathering of the Million Man March slated for October 10, 2015 with the theme “Justice Or Else!”
“When I look at the beautiful array of 17 Republicans showing their wares, asking, ‘Who will vote for me?’ But more importantly, they are asking of the money people, ‘who will make me a president?’ They are so wicked and unjust today that you have to have $1 billion or more to even run for the office of president,” Minister Farrakhan said.
“So when a king maker buys a politician, they eventually come to the politician and ask him, ‘I have something for you to do that would give me pleasure’–and there goes your democracy,” said the Muslim minister.
Analysts told The Final Call Mr. Trump has become the center of a political circus with the help of the corporate media that feeds on the outlandish and the different. At the end of the day there is little difference among any of the candidates, Republican or Democrat, explained Bruce Dixon. It’s a “choice within no choice” and “a distinction without a difference,” he said.
“You can tell them apart, but it really don’t make much difference … that’s what the two party system does for us; it forces us into that corner where we have to choose between tweedle dum and tweedle dumpster,” Mr. Dixon quipped about the state of American politics.
For Black people the national election season comes amid a time of increased hostility and overt injustices. The question is how should Black people respond to the election? The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the patriarch of the Nation of Islam, wrote in his pivotal book, The Fall of America: “How much good have the two parties done for us for the last century in the way of freedom, justice, and equality? Regardless of what party wins, the die is always set against us.”
“If the present party (Democratic) remains in office, you know the answer. If the Republican Party takes over, you should know the answer,” Mr. Muhammad further wrote.
A recent Gallup opinion poll of Americans across ethnic and racial lines stated that Blacks are treated the worst in America compared to other groups, which observers agreed has always been the case. They say whichever party occupies the White House after 2016 for Blacks it will be more of the same.
“We need to be organizing on the ground for something else and we need to be shaming, shunning and discrediting both parties,” argued Mr. Dixon.
‘Self-determination or else’
Dr. Horne suggests Black people shore up their own organizations and mobilize and plan for militant action and be more proactive to engage the international arena. “Historically North America has been so hostile we had to rely upon folks outside of North America. But with the retreat of legalized Jim Crow, there are those in our community who thought that strategy was no longer necessary because supposedly we were citizens. But I think that was a misjudgment,” he said.
He suggested alliances be strengthened and formed at venues like the upcoming United Nations General Assembly opening Sept. 15 in New York and meeting with friendly delegations from the African Union, the Caribbean and also Russia, China and Cuba. Dr. Horne said Black people are at a critical juncture of “self-determination or else” but are hindered by a false belief that America still has something for them.
“What happens is that if you’re at a critical juncture for awhile … but the ceiling hasn’t collapsed altogether, then people get lethargic … complacent and people think that the status quo of the state ceiling … will remain in perpetuity. That’s an illusion,” he reasoned.
“Nobody will get our vote this time around! I say nobody, unless you talk to us about justice and what you’re going to do to make America a just nation,” vowed Minister Farrakhan. “Because whoever will be president will have the awesome task of saving America from the Wrath of God in this Day of Judgment against her.”