I have complained ad nausea about the Republican Party's willing embrace of racists - and religious zealots - as a deliberate way to turn out right wing voters. The appeals to racists began with Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and for years after continued with constant dog whistle appeals to would be KKK members. With Donald Trump, the dog whistle has been cast aside and replaced by a clarion call that is being answered by far too many in the Republican Party base. As a recent Pew Research survey reveals, the GOP is now dominated by those with open contempt and animus for those of other races. Indeed, the animus is focused on anyone who is different as North Carolina's and Mississippi anti-LGBT bills have made all too clear. A column in the Washington Post looks at this ugly state of affairs. Here are highlights:
In a Republican debate last month, Donald Trump was asked whether his claim that “Islam hates us” means all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide hate the United States. “I mean a lot of ’em,” Trump replied, as some in the crowd — Trump supporters, presumably — laughed and applauded.
That ugly moment comes to mind in describing how many of Trump’s supporters have racist motivations for backing him: Not all — but a lot of ’em.
A found that 59 percent of registered voters nationwide think that an increasing number of people from different races, ethnic groups and nationalities makes the United States a better place to live; only 8 percent say this makes America worse. But among Trump backers, 39 percent say diversity improves America, while 42 percent say it makes no difference and 17 percent say it actually makes America worse. Supporters of GOP rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich were significantly more upbeat on diversity.
Trump had the support of 34 percent of Republican-leaning voters overall, but among those who said that whites are losing out, 43 percent supported Trump. Ehrenfreund and Clement did a further analysis finding that racial anxiety was at least as important as economic anxiety — the factor most commonly associated with Trump backers — in predicting support for Trump. Though the two factors were statistically close, those “who voiced concerns about white status appeared to be even more likely to support Trump than those who said they were struggling economically.”
Clement, The Post’s polling manager, told me: “What was striking to me in analyzing the data is that even after controlling for a variety of demographics and attitudes [including all those above], believing whites are losing out continued to be a key predictor of Trump support. . . . Its importance persisted under a wide range of scenarios.”
University of California at Irvine political scientist Michael Tesler, citing data from Rand Corp.’s Presidential Election Panel Survey, found that “Trump performs best among Americans who express more resentment toward African Americans and immigrants and who tend to evaluate whites more favorably than minority groups.”
Trump’s supporters overall tend to be older, disproportionately male, less likely to have a college degree and more likely to be suffering economically. But race is an ever-present factor among Trump supporters.
Thursday’s poll by nonpartisan Pew, a well-respected outfit, finds antipathy toward minorities as well: Sixty-nine percent of Trump supporters say immigrants burden the country, and Trump supporters are significantly more likely than other Republican voters to want illegal immigrants deported, to favor a wall along the Mexican border and to support extra scrutiny of Muslims in the United States solely because of their religion.
Trump makes bigots feel safe to come out of the shadows. But that doesn’t excuse them.
While not specifically addressed, the findings in my view help underscore the racist nature of many evangelical Christians. Some evangelical leaders - e.g., Albert Mohler - bloviate about Trump supporters not being "real evangelicals" yet having followed Christian "family values" groups for many years, there has always been a racist undercurrent in these groups. Indeed, Family Research Council president has documented white supremacist ties. Mohler and others can whine all they want, but the truth is that Trump has made these modern day Pharisees feel free to show their true racist mindsets.