This piece reflects the views of the author, Jean Ramirez, and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to [email protected].
On April 10th, columnist Zachary Moss wrote an article how the Republican candidate Donald Trump “demonized various minority groups in the U.S in order to create fear and insecurity against anyone who isn’t a white male.” He showed facts and numbers, but he failed to introduce historic rhetoric to explain why Mr. Trump pursuits this strategy and how it has been done before.
Elite members of the Republican party are in no position of endorsing Mr. Trump . Why would they? Mr. Trump has insulted members of congress, including those in the party he claims to represent. His bullish tactics, instead of hurting his image, has in fact increased his popularity among Americans who view it as bold and necessary.
Strategic politicians craft their language very carefully while Mr. Trump “tells it like is,” as many of his supporters claim. The only problem is his approach has divided the republican party. How? After losing the 2008 election, the latino vote became really significant to the Republican party.
Instead of embracing this electorate change, the party became anti-immigrant. Once Mr. Trump insulted Mexican immigrants when he announced his candidacy, no longer did the party have a chance to undo the anti-immigrant sentiment they needed to avoid to win future elections.
On the other hand, the same tactic has become popular among Americans who feel like they are no longer represented by their party. Here is where it becomes historical:
During the New Deal era Southern Democrats supported the safety nets created by FDR, but with one condition: that it only benefited white Americans. The Jim Crow south made it impossible for Black Americans to receive the benefits they needed to survive the great depression. Not until the Johnson’s administration did civil rights demands became laws.
By then, this huge coalition began to look the other way, and in 1964 a party realignment transformed U.S politics. Southern Democrats and other Democratic conservatives felt like their party no longer represented them, in part because the Democratic party had embraced civil rights movement (which many white Americans were not in favor of).
These disfranchised voters instead embraced a new Republican conservative platform based on law and order that labeled White Americans as law-abiding citizens, pinning minorities as agitators. A prime example is George Wallace, whose campaign like Mr. Trump’s, is based on racist connotation to alliance minorities and present himself as a savior for the political disfranchised.
During the 70’s and 80’s institutionalized racism replaced Jim Crow, arguably maintaining a racial hierarchy that placed white Americans at a significant advantage.
So what does this have to do with Trump supporters? Well after the great recession of late 2008, the unemployment level increased leaving middle class families financially unstable. No longer did a financial crisis affect only minorities, but this time it took a toll on all Americans.
During this period anti-immigrant sentiment began to grow, further creating the notion that the government no longer represented everyone equally. Poor White americans felt no longer represented by their representatives in congress. More profoundly, they no longer felt like their status as White America would provide a safety net for them.
That is until Mr. Trump blamed the government, immigrants and other factors for this disparity. The message spread and resonated among others who felt the same way but couldn’t say out loud because it had a racist connotation.
The problem is that the Republican party accepted the fact that they needed the Latino vote. Except the anti-immigrant and xenophobic language Mr. Trump echoes at his rallies further alienates these necessary voters, but attracts many who feel otherwise. Mr. Trumps popularity hurts the Republican party, but alienating him also alienates his supporters; a key demographic to Republicans.
So what to do? not even Republican elites know.
Jean Ramirez is University of Oregon student working towards a bachelors degree in economics and political science.