To those of us who are surprised by the rise of Trump: Yes, people are afraid of terrorism and understandably so, but Trump’s series of racist remarks point to another less understandable key to his success. In 2012, an article on an AP poll stated: “The election of Barack Obama failed to usher in a post-racial US, with a new poll showing that 51 percent of Americans hold explicitly anti-black views.” This figure is higher than other surveys I’ve seen which indicate that roughly 20 to 25% of whites hold explicitly anti-black and racist views. But even that percentage of white Americans is no small number–more than sixty million people.
Many white liberals aren’t aware of these statistics, but Trump’s surge to the head of the Republican presidential campaign is exposing the reality that there are tens of millions of white Americans who are explicitly racist. While Republican party leaders have been aware that a large portion of their base is racist, Trump has tapped into that racist base and shown that it is far larger than the party leaders were aware of or wanted to admit. By his leading in the polls and constantly being in the news, he’s given this racist base more and more permission to come out of the closet (witness the white supremacists saying Trump has been a boon for them): “Oh, he’s said all Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists. That’s what I’ve felt all along.” “Trump said the majority of murders of white people are committed by blacks [sic—a bogus statistic]. I always knew the blacks were out to get us.” “Trump wants to ban all Muslims. Great, it’s okay for me to say now I hate Muslims.” Now Trump will say he doesn’t hate Mexicans or “the blacks” or Muslims, but he will never criticize those in his base who do, and that gives them more and more room to hate.
It used to be that the racism the Republican party handed out was done covertly, on the sly, like a backroom take out order so no one would supposedly notice (the so-called dog whistle politics telling them their order was ready). Trump has moved the dish of racism to the head of the main room menu, and now the Republican party leadership and the rest us see how much of their party eagerly wants to gobble up that dish.
Link to article on the AP poll: https://www.rt.com/usa/majority-americans-racist-poll-378/