The Republican Party is the United States’ largest de facto white identity organization. Its primary electoral strategy for the last 50 years has consisted of using a combination of overt white racism and subtle “dog whistles” to win white voters.
New research by political scientist Michael Tesler shows the power of this strategy: “Old-fashioned” overt racism now predicts if a given white voter will support the Republican Party. Public opinion polling data from Reuters/Ipsos has revealed that Trump’s supporters are more likely than other Republican voters to believe that black people are more “criminal,” “unintelligent,” “lazy” and “violent” than white people. Demographics are important here as well: The Republican Party’s base is about 90 percent white while the Democratic Party’s constituency is multiracial and multigenerational.
Donald Trump is the current standard bearer for the Republican Party and a political moment when conservatism and racism are now fully and nakedly one and the same thing. This is why white nationalists such as David Duke — as well as the other bigots and hatemongers who constitute the so-called alt right — have flocked to Trump's candidacy and embraced him as their champion and delivery system for mainstreaming their regressive white supremacist beliefs into the American body politic.
Moreover, this is not a claim that Trump is guilty by mere association or endorsement. Trump’s proposed policies are racist and nativist: He has suggested that Hispanic and Latino “illegal” immigrants are running amok in the street while they kill and rape white people. He believes that African-Americans in the age of Obama live in a dystopic hell worse than slavery and Jim and Jane Crow. And in violation of the Constitution he wants to ban Muslims from the United States while placing the ones already here on an enemies' list.
Trump’s son as well as other political advisers have used social media to circulate white supremacist propaganda and talking points. Trump’s inner circle also has connections to white supremacist and white nationalist organizations.
What follows then is not at all surprising.
Trump has received not one endorsement from a major American newspaper. He has, however, received front page coverage and effusive praise from The Crusader, the official newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan.
His slogan, “Make America Great Again” is the outdated and unreflective speech of those who uncritically embrace the past, a recycling of the Know-Nothing rhetoric of the 1850s, and a maturation of Pat Buchanan’s white “ethnonationalism” screeds from white supremacist websites such as World Net Daily.
The Ku Klux Klan understands its origins and meaning quite well. The organization translates these for the unsure and those who may be somehow duped or tricked into thinking that “Make America Great Again” is race neutral and benign speech. The Crusader has explained:
“Make American Great Again!” It is a slogan that has been repeatedly used by Donald Trump in his campaign for the presidency. You can see it on the shirts, buttons, posters and ball caps such as the one being worn here by Trump speaking at a recent rally . . . But can it happen? Can America really be great again? This is what we will soon found out! While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, “What made America great in the first place?” The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who are forefathers were, America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great.
This is Donald Trump’s America — the basket of human deplorables speaks again, unfiltered.
President Warren Harding was rumored to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. President Woodrow Wilson praised the white supremacist fiction of black degeneracy and bestial violence during Reconstruction as “writing history with lightning” in the form of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 movie “Birth of a Nation."
More than 100 years later, Trump is the Republican Party’s nominee for president with a de facto endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan in his metaphorical back pocket.
The past is the present. “History is a moving train." Ugly and old ideas still shamble about the American political landscape, beaten back but unvanquished. Alas, there is not one reckoning in America but a series of them. One such moment is approaching on Election Day 2016.
Will Donald Trump, the Ku Klux Klan-endorsed candidate, and his basket of human deplorables reign? Or will the American people send them back into the shadows and the dustbin of history?
The American people will again have to decide what type of people they want to be and the country they want to have.