Trump: Is It Racism or Political Strategy?

If you’ve been compelled react to the recent bigoted statements of Donald Trump via social media, congratulations you’ve just handed Trump the victory he’s seeking.  Trump is no more than a narcissistic billionaire with daddy issues desperate for publicity and attention. He wants us to all be talking about him and it doesn’t matter whether our opinions about his positions are positive or negative.  In fact, it can be argued that Trump ultimately benefits from those of us who express moral outrage at his pigheaded proclamations.  His most recent outrageous statement about banning all Muslims from entering the country is not only indicative of his own flawed and prejudiced ideology but also far more indicative of his megalomaniacal need to manipulate the media into letting him dictate the tone and content of our society’s political discourse on a national level.  Unfortunately, even journalists with the noblest intentions cannot help but to play into Trump’s hands because it’s impossible to cover Trump in the media without sensationalizing the coverage.  That is exactly how Trump wants it, and this is how he intends to win the Republican primary.

In reality, I don’t think Trump believes half the verbal manure that has been spouting from his mouth.  Sure, there may be a part of him that may agree with some of the racist, chauvinistic, xenophobic, and sexist statements inherent to the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, but I actually believe his sincerity when he denies being a racist. No racist ever believes he’s a racist.  What Trump is doing is very simple.  He’s pandering to racists by telling them what they want to hear. He’s doing what the Republican Party has been doing for decades.  They pander to their base because it’s the fundamentalist Christian lobbyist groups who fund their campaign and essentially bribe politicians and political candidates to say what the base of their constituents want to hear.   Republicans depend on the votes of poor, uneducated, white Christians to support their campaigns.

The Republican Party has been vastly co-opted by powerful lobbyist groups who want to dictate government policies based upon fundamentalist Christian beliefs.  As a result, we all lose because we have one political party controlled by extremists while the Democratic Party also suffers from its own internal shortcomings.  Rational fiscal conservatives cannot elect their candidates solely based upon their conservative economic vision.   They are forced to support candidates who must first pander to their base who dictate where the candidates must stand on broader social issues.  Hence, it’s difficult to find a Republican candidate who supports a woman’s right to choose. Even if they vaguely take a semi pro-choice position to appeal to female voters, they must emphatically stress their opposition to Planned Parenthood despite the fact that not one penny of federal funding to Planned Parenthood goes to fund abortions.  Instead, the organization performs cancer screenings, facilitates access to birth control, and helps to treat STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

What Trump is doing is in some ways politically ingenious from a strategic perspective.  He’s swooping in and clutching away the support of the more traditional candidates – candidates who would be sanctioned by the powerful Christian lobby groups – and appealing to the base of their constituents by pandering to them and dominating the tone and rhetoric of political discussion across all forms of media.  What this is doing is essentially stealing away thunder of the other Republican candidates and exposing the bigotry inherent to Republican Party politics.  Previously, the Republican Party preferred a brand of bigotry and chauvinism that was more covert.   When it comes to contending in general elections, it’s impossible to win without at least paying lip service to the notion of equality, liberty, and justice for all.  In the past it was enough for them to at least pretend as if Republican candidates cared about all its constituents even as they deployed deplorable practices such as disenfranchising minority voters with unfair voter ID laws while also gerrymandering district boarders to insure victory.  Now, Trump has forced (some might say bullied) the Republican Party into pressing forward with overt bigotry and chauvinism.  If you need to ask why, then you haven’t been paying attention to the media.   It all boils down to media coverage.  Trump must realize that what he’s saying is vile and wrong on every moral and ethical level, but he also knows that every racist, chauvinistic, bigoted statement garners massive attention and free coverage across every media platform.  That attention rallies his supporters who are the voters Republicans have traditionally depended upon due to their defiantly uneducated, uncultured, and prejudiced personal politics. Nevertheless, Trump knows that as long as he has their support, he can steal away enough votes to win himself the primary.

Republicans have a tough decision to make.  Do they defy their base constituents made up of poor uneducated white Christian voters by rejecting Trump or do they embrace the increasingly fascist ideology of the person currently dominating the polls?  In some ways, they are trapped in a conundrum of their own doing and I doubt traditional Republicans such as Dick Cheney and Paul Ryan, who both recently denounced Trump’s statement about Muslims, could do much to sway public opinion within the Republican Party away from Trump’s off the cuff reactionary sentiments.  This is a political party who had previously benefited from the poor essentially voting against their own self-interests based upon what was once covert prejudice and chauvinism.  Now that Trump has exposed the true underbelly of these attitudes is there a way for the Republican Party to go back?  Perhaps its time for the GOP to re-evaluate its stance on social issues and eschew the powerful fundamentalist Christian lobby groups who dictate their position on social issues.  Imagine how revolutionary it might be to see a Republican Party candidate who is progressive on social issues yet conservative when it comes to the economy. Wouldn’t that be something interesting? The American voters deserve to choose between candidates that they respect instead of casting their votes against a candidate with morally egregious social positions dictated by lobbyists.

The media will no doubt continue to relish in the frenzy of the Trump circus and it appears there is no return to the good ole days of the pre-Trump era of journalism when political scandals came and went in cycles.  Now it’s become all Trump all the time day in and day out.  This is exactly what Trump wants and this is exactly how he intends to win the Republican nomination.  Whether he does or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure.  Whenever Trump says something that riles you up and inspires you to denounce him, you’re probably feeding into the very frenzy he’s created.  The best thing to do is to keep in mind that Trump is only saying what the dregs of our society want to hear.  When we put it that way, maybe . . . just maybe . . . common sense will win out and the Republicans will get their act together and nominate a candidate that we might grudgingly respect even while tremendously disagreeing with the policy positions put forth by those Christian lobbyist groups, who are the true enemies of freedom by the way.

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