The Trumpist Phenomenon

I know many pundits, think tanks, politicians, advisors to politicians, strategists, academics and consultants are trying to explain the “Trump phenomenon.”  Some have made excellent contributions.  But I came across one in the Washington Post of March 5, 2016 which seems to capture the movement well.  As an added benefit the article also traces the history of the Republican establishment versus anti-establishment conflict from Goldwater on.  So I commend it for your reading:

ttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/behind-the-rise-of-trump-long-standing-grievances-among-left-out-voters/2016/03/05/7996bca2-e253-11e5-9c36-e1902f6b6571_story.html

I agree with pretty much all Dan Balz wrote.  But if anyone wants to start a conversation, all the better.

23 thoughts on “The Trumpist Phenomenon”

  1. I also agree with the comments made about Trump. I think that it is interesting to realize “how the republican party made Trump.” Mitt Romney has obviously accused Trump of being a fraud and I also believe that Trump does not have much regard for if what he is saying is offensive or not to anyone. Some of what he says is fraudulent. Personally I think it is sad to see how uninformed the vast majority of voters in the USA are and I would like to see Cruz or Rubio gain some more ground. Even if it’s a long shot.

  2. The article does insufficient justice to the reason racism played in why white working class voters, especially from the South, left the Democratic party.

    Race–or should I say fear of whites becoming a minority in a demographically changing nation–trumps economics. It explains much of not most of Trump’s appeal.

    Has Trump even articulated anything regarding a coherent economic policy other than, “Hey, I’m rich and famous”? It is his unabashed appeal to nativism and white supremacy that has been his cross-party appeal.

    The GOP has used nativism and white supremacy to win elections for years but usually just in the form of dog whistles (i.e. Willie Horton and Reagan’s launching at Philadelphia, MS and his appeal to states rights). The major difference between the GOP historically and Trump now is that Trump just lets ‘er rip.

    1. I am sorry, but you are just wrong to have this obsession with denigrating the Republican Party by essentially calling it and its members racist. While it isn’t perfect (as no political party is), it cannot be defined by racism. Of course those who oppose the party like to tar it with that overused term of abuse.

      1. If you don’t like what I say, you need to do more than just say I am wrong. You need to provide evidence to the contrary.

        If you like I could easily give a history here that includes the Lily Whites, the Republican opposition to New Deal plans that supported African-Americans, the post-1948 move of working class whites in the South to the GOP, the opposition to the Civil Rights movement by William F. Buckley in the National Review, the career of Strom Thurmond, the rise of Jesse Helms, the opposition in the South to the civil rights legislation, Ronald Reagan’s trip to Mississippi to launch his campaign, the issue of states rights, Willie Horton, the opposition to school desegregation, the rise of the charter school movement under the slogan of “school choice,” GOP attempts to limit African-Americans from voting since 2010, GW Bush’s visit to BJU, Mississippi senator Trent Lott’s comments at Thurmond’s birthday party, etc.

        Some even have gone as far as opposing having MLK’s birthday as a federal holiday, and slurring MLK by calling him a communist. Sad but true.

        I would agree that some members of the GOP decry racism. But many do not and have not. The Democratic party was at one time the party that housed the racists under wraps, but over the last decades it has become the GOP.

        And now with the rise of Trump, the wraps are off. The man, who is STILL the frontrunner to the GOP nomination to the highest office in the free world, courts racists. He is David Duke, but without the good hair.

        I am sorry you don’t like it, and neither do I, but that seems to be what it is. But I will admit one possible error: Based upon the weekend’s news about Trump supporters raising their hands in their pledge to vote for Herr Donald, perhaps I should have added FASCIST as well.

      2. Mr. Adams, I believe you have committed a burden of proof fallacy. Dr. Clauson does not need to provide you with counter proof. He has simply said two statements: 1. the burden of proof lies on you who made the statement that the GOP is racist and 2. your evidence that you have provided in the past has been found wanting.
        Your rundown of an historical glut of evidence does not further your case. Those instances may qualify to prove that racism or its remnants exist, but they do not qualify to make such a sweeping generalization of an entire party. The case to be made is one of a matter of degree not one of existence. The existence of racism is easy to prove within any such large body of people, but it does not mean that it is endemic of the entire population.
        Furthermore, you certainly agree with Dr. Clauson and the other bloggers on this site about the embarrassment which is the Trump phenomenon. Does not the large number of Trump disenters, especially regarding his racist comments, indicate contrary to your claim that there is perhaps even a majority of the party and maybe even party establishment who are concientiously opposed to racism?

      3. This is not a courtroom and your statements are not entitled to a “true until proven false” status, especially since you have not provided sufficient proof of them yourself. Your conclusions are only your opinions. Nothing more.

        Just because you say it does not make it true.

      4. Let me see if I can help clarify, the Republican party is not a party of racists. The Republican party is the party of choice of racists. There’s a big distinction. Most racists are Republicans, most Republicans aren’t racist.

        Furthermore Trump has more appeal than just racism, and might I add *it’s not just white supremacists, Trump feeds a fear. Fear of outsiders, fear of the unknown, fear of irrelevancy.

        I can’t understand a Christian voting for him, but I understand his appeal to non Christians.

        *The nation of Islam supports Trump because they view him as anti-Semitic.

  3. Joel,
    ” the burden of proof lies on you who made the statement that the GOP is racist and 2. your evidence that you have provided in the past has been found wanting.”

    But I never said that. Please don’t straw man my comments. I thought I made myself clear when I said that “I would agree that some members of the GOP decry racism. But many do not and have not. The Democratic party was at one time the party that housed the racists under wraps, but over the last decades it has become the GOP.”

    I have provided evidence here multiple times and my points are nothing new; even Republicans have admitted the racism behind Reagan’s accusation of “welfare queens” and of the disgusting Willie Horton reference in 1988. And who here does not know Jesse Helms?

    Mr. Clauson’s response has been to simply deny it, as if it does not exist. But I suspect he knows that I am right to a degree. Indeed, his brother Kevin used to teach at Liberty (I don’t know if he still is there). The comment about someone accusing MLK about being a communist came from him. I heard similar comments when I was at Cedarville in the early 80’s, for the record.

    I made that point clear what I said that “

    1. “Mr. Clauson’s response has been to simply deny it, as if it does not exist”

      No, his response has been to ignore what seems to be a primal need to continue bringing your points up over and over again. No one denies that racism does not exist. What we deny is your assertion that racism is a defining attribute of the Republican Party.

      And please tell me why thinking MLK was communist is racist? Can you read Kevin Clauson’s mind or was there anything in his statement that indicated his opinion of MLK’s political ideology would be any different if he was white? You are free to disagree that MLK was a communist, but it hardly qualifies someone else as racist if they do.

      Do you apply the racism label to anyone who disagrees with an African-American whose political ideology one does not agree with? Would you say I am racist because I do not have a positive view of Justice Thurgood Marshall due to his liberal SCOTUS record? My feelings about him would be the same if he had been white. No better, no worse.

      And I know this will be a great shock to you, but just because someone does not think MLK’s birthday is deserving of a Federal holiday does not make them a racist. Personally, I am not sure we should even have a Presidents Day. To me, such days only serve for unnecessarily glorification of the individual. MLK’s civil rights accomplishments can still be recognized and respected, but why should he get a special day and not, say, Susan B. Anthony. There are plenty of Americans deserving of such an honor but there is no way we can give them all a federal holiday, so IMO we shouldn’t be doing it for any.

      Just a closing observation: In your list of example of GOP racism you mentioned W. Bush for his visit to BJU but yet you completely ignored the fact that his first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was the first African-American Sec. of State and his successor, Condi Rice, was the first African-American woman Sec. of State.

      Of course, I guess the reason my opinion of Colin Powell has declined over the past decade is because he is black and I am racist and has little to do with his increasingly liberal political bent. Can you detect the sarcasm here?

      1. Your comments in the past and here now here suggest that, yes, you have some serious issues–a major blind spot– regarding race. Like many whites, you seem blissfully ignorant of how much you have benefited from white supremacy in your life.

        Perhaps it is because you have not been educated on black history (if you had, you would not need me to explain why MLK deserves a holiday–since you would already know).

        Perhaps you have been raised or live in a largely white area. I can say that attending four formative years of my life at 99+% white Cedarville failed to prepare me for the realities of living in the US. I lived in a large dorm that had no whites. I myself was blissfully ignorant and did not even know. Then, I grew up. Once I opened my eyes, I saw what had been there the whole time.

        The fact that you would defend a baseless slur against MLK affirms what I have thought out you all along. And although you have a right to criticize Thurgood Marshall–a fallible person, like you and me–your feelings on him cannot minimize his work on eliminating the fraud that was separate but equal.

        I wish you enlightenment.

      2. “Your comments in the past and here now here suggest that, yes, you have some serious issues–a major blind spot– regarding race.”

        Think what you will. I know my heart and God knows my heart and that is all that matters. My conscience before him on my view of race is clean.

        “Perhaps it is because you have not been educated on black history (if you had, you would not need me to explain why MLK deserves a holiday–since you would already know).”

        Ah, the old “you don’t see things my way so you must not have been educated” line. If you seriously think I do not understand black history; the hardships, the discrimination, the persecution, the harassment, the lynchings, the beatings, the brutality, that blacks have suffered, you are obviously clueless about what I know and don’ t know about history.

        One can respect and acknowledge the important work MLK did for racial equality, as I do, and still say, free of racial motivation, that he shouldn’t have a federal holiday. Like I said, I am not sure we should celebrate any individual’s birthday in such manner. Knowing what I know about George Washington, I seriously doubt he would approve that we used to celebrate his birthday, and technically the legal name for President’s Day is still “George Washington’s Birthday”. To say MLK should not have a holiday does NOT mean I want to discount the history of race or of civil rights or that I do not understand his personal contributions to it. Personally, what I think should be done is a federal “Civil Rights Day” in which ALL important contributors (Susan B. Anthony, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and yes, MLK, to name a few) to the cause of political and societal equality are equally recognized as a collective.

        “The fact that you would defend a baseless slur against MLK affirms what I have thought out you all along. ”

        Was I actually defending it? No. I simply said that calling MLK a communist does not make one racist. Personally, I don’t think he was. I would say a better description based on his political views is that he favored democratic socialism. Suffice it to say he was certainly no friend of capitalism and the similarities between socialism and communism can lead to misunderstandings. The charge of “communism” might be wrong, but it doesn’t make it baseless.

    2. “Please don’t straw man my comments.”

      Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

      All I am sayin’

    3. For Jeff Adams:
      I am waiting for some reliable evidence. There is no point in responding until you make your case with some extensive data that is more than anecdotal and is across the board, that is, shows that Republicans are racist in pretty much every faction of that party, to a large extent in each faction. And your evidence should of course be reliable, as I said.

      Thanks, and if it is a long post, that’s fine.

      1. “shows that Republicans are racist in pretty much every faction of that party, to a large extent in each faction.”

        Now where did I say that? What is your preoccupation with straw-manning? Do you not think I would catch on?

        Here is what I said: “The article does insufficient justice to the reason racism played in why white working class voters, especially from the South, left the Democratic party.

        Race–or should I say fear of whites becoming a minority in a demographically changing nation–trumps economics. It explains much of not most of Trump’s appeal.

        Has Trump even articulated anything regarding a coherent economic policy other than, “Hey, I’m rich and famous”? It is his unabashed appeal to nativism and white supremacy that has been his cross-party appeal.

        The GOP has used nativism and white supremacy to win elections for years but usually just in the form of dog whistles (i.e. Willie Horton and Reagan’s launching at Philadelphia, MS and his appeal to states rights). The major difference between the GOP historically and Trump now is that Trump just lets ‘er rip.”

        To recap, here is what I said:
        1. racism played a role in why white working class voters, especially from the South, left the Democratic party.
        2. Donald Trump appeals to the fear of white people becoming a minority in a demographically changing nation. Moreover, he appeals to nativism and white supremacy.
        3. The GOP too has used nativism and white supremancy as “dog whistles” in previous elections. Trump is just more open about it.

        THESE are the claims that I am willing support, NOT the hyperbolic strawman you built.

        If I am going to take the time to do this over the next few weeks, I would like a promise that it will be placed as a post, not merely as a reply to a thread that by that point would be about as dead as Ohio State’s chances right now of getting to the men’s equivalent of the Big Dance.

        IF you agree, I will agree to do it. Fair enough?

  4. Look I am not defending Trump. I am trying to tell you in a somewhat diplomatic way that you overestimate historical racism in the Republican Party, and certainly now. You do have to make the case for your apparent claim. I am willing to read any long comment, but can’t guarantee a post.

    The Trump phenomenon is more complex than you make it out to be (whether you intend that or not). Nevertheless I am no Trump defender.

    And what about the Democratic Party–pure as the driven snow?

    1. I am not a member of any party. So, no, the Democratic party is not as pure as driven snow (roll eyes).

      But at least the party represents the diversity of this great nation and does not have regional heads of the KKK supporting the party’s leading contender for president.

      Guarantee me a post (you are the most frequent poster here, so you must have some pull, right?), and then I will take the time to do it right. If you are TRULY serious about wanting my input, then you can make it happen. If you cannot, then I know you were just blowing smoke.

      Otherwise, my time is far too valuable to write a long post that will get lost. It is not as if I put my contributions here on my c.v.!

      1. It would be a mistake to assume that if they do not give you an actual post they do not want your input. However, I will take this chance to voice my support for you being able to get an actual post. Whether that helps or hurts your chances I cannot say, but there it is for whatever its worth.

  5. I don’t think Trump is Hitler or the worst thing ever (like many people I know), but I do think he is having a very shady campaign. He drums up the emotions in his supporters and makes them mad. They don’t really care what he is doing, he just continues to make people mad about the status quo. I don’t personally like some things our country is doing but I am far from convinced that Trump will be the solution.

  6. I like the historical look at the politics of today. Reminds me of this old LBJ ad that’s been going around Facebook lately.

  7. “It would be a mistake to assume that if they do not give you an actual post they do not want your input. However, I will take this chance to voice my support for you being able to get an actual post. Whether that helps or hurts your chances I cannot say, but there it is for whatever its worth.”

    Well, thank you. I don’t think they are going to give me a chance, likely because they do not want to use this space to criticize the GOP. After all, Cedarville has a history of treating non-GOP faculty poorly; I can understand why the faculty members who run this wouldn’t want their blog to be seen in such a light. Perhaps they fear that they could be next, since they know full well that their tenure means nothing.

    As I have said before, I feel badly that the faculty who post here have to be careful, walking around in pins and needles, about what they say. They do not experience any reasonable degree of academic freedom.

    Fact is, I was going to write a piece citing ONLY Republican admissions of intentionally using tactics (direct quotations from Republican strategists, not second-hand info) to attract racist voters, of racist statements in mainstream conservative publications such as the National Review, which is often cited here.

    In the end I am quite busy right now writing grants and such already.

  8. Nathan D,

    If you truly understood what MLK and the civil rights movement means to African-Americans, you would support the holiday. Period.

    I don’t look at the MLK holiday as something only for African-Americans, or only as a day in which to honor just MLK.

    It is something that all Americans should celebrate. That day is also a celebration of the American value of non-violent civil protest (a lesson many Trump supporters could use right now). Non-violent protest is something that ALL Americans enjoy.

    It is also a day on which to do things for others. As MLK used to say, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” To my family, this day is a day all about doing good for others (we don’t just sit around the house, as if the day were just an extension of the weekend). I want my children to understand that to whom much is given, much is required. They (WE!) enjoy advantages we did nothing to earn.

    Btw, there are some Christian universities that do celebrate MLK’s birthday and they use the day as one of public service, of helping out the less fortunate, of doing GOOD for others.

    Why can’t Cedarville do the same thing? I think it would be wonderful experience for students. Instead of just saying words in a prayer for the needy, go out and do something themselves.

  9. Trump is unlike anything people have seen before in this race. I think Trump is succeeding for many reasons more important than racism. I believe many people are flocking to Trump because he isn’t politically correct and speaks what is on his mind. Many of the other candidates probably think things similar to Trump but do not say them because of their desire to be politically correct. I am not referring to racism here or saying any of the other candidates are racist, I am talking broadly about all of the issues at hand. Trump is not afraid to speak his mind and that is why he is succeeding. He also has a great deal of charisma whether you like it or not. Plus, the other candidates that are in the field for this race I believe are some of the worst candidates we have had run before. Many of the candidates have tried to attack Trump and go down to his level and it has only hurt them and made them look terrible. Trump is succeeding because he is not many things that the people hate about politicians.

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