October 28, 2016 by David K. Sutton
Obama’s Presidency Led To Trump’s White Nationalist Populism
When the “Taxed Enough Already” protest signs started appearing just after Barack Obama’s first inauguration, we should have seen this coming. When those protest signs turned into a conservative political coalition called the Tea Party, we should have seen this coming. When Donald Trump presided over the “birther” freak show, we should have seen this coming.
After our first black president, Donald Trump’s rise as head of the new white nationalist movement (and Republican presidential candidate) is no coincidence. Barack Obama is not personally responsible for this outcome, but there has been a simmering racial tension in some parts of white America, secretly (and not so secretly) outraged by the fact a black man is occupying the Oval Office. This subsurface dismay was just waiting for a leader, someone who could take it mainstream with a handy slogan like “make America great again.” With Donald J. Trump, this legion of panicked white souls found their man, and they see no problem giving him the keys to the White House.
Even President Obama acknowledges that we should have seen this coming. “I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party,” said President Obama in a New York Magazine interview. Is there really any doubt? But while Obama did not invoke race, I have no problem doing so. Because I believe that line started long before the 2008 election. You can trace it to Jim Crow, and all the way back to America’s original sin. When people say they don’t trust Obama because he’s a “Muslim,” that’s just the polite folk way of saying he’s the n-word. Anybody who believes racism is a thing of the past, well, might just be a racist.
When Donald Trump dipped his giant ego into the waters of birtherism, using his celebrity to add legitimacy to a conspiracy movement with racist underpinnings, he probably had no idea what he tapped into. Questioning a president’s birth certificate only became a thing when we finally had a president who didn’t look like all past presidents. Little did we (and likely Trump) know at the time, that he was setting the stage for a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. Except, it really wasn’t all that hostile, was it? The ingredients for Trump’s white nationalism were already there, just waiting for the right candidate.
It should alarm us that Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, David Duke, said Trump speaks “a lot more radically” than he does.
It should grab our attention that conspiracy theorist in chief, Alex Jones, has been a big Trump booster.
It should astound us that the alt-right has claimed a major-party presidential candidate as one of their own, reinforced by Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon has campaign CEO.
If they have their way, the angst of millions of white Americans orbiting Trump’s campaign will bear witness to the death of multiculturalism. They aspire to inaugurate a fascist know-nothing who will return American to our deep racist roots, and they would like nothing more than to reinvent the Republican Party into a patriarchal political confederacy where xenophobia, misogyny, and racism are the core tenets.
Barack Obama’s 2008 victory did not foretell Donald Trump’s bizarre and disturbing candidacy, and it certainly wasn’t the root of white angst, but yeah, we should have seen this coming.
Election 2016 • Intolerance • News • Politics • Race in America