La Opinion (Editorial)
March 1, 2016
The controversy created by Ku Klux Klan ex-leader David Duke’s endorsement of Republican candidate Donald Trump is an example of the reach and resonance of his populist message among the country’s most racist sectors.
Whether Trump is a racist or not is still to be determined. But he has proven to be a cunning manipulator. He knows how to take advantage of the frustration of a sector of the white working class which has seen its quality of life deteriorate due to low wages and unemployment. It is true that Trump’s populism targets Wall Street and the white, Republican business establishment, but his main message reaffirms the base’s idea that the progress of racial and ethnic minorities is to blame for their ills.
This sentiment is especially present in Southern states, many of which had their primary yesterday. Trump wants to have it both ways by refusing to immediately reject Duke’s support, as he is catering to racists still in denial about the defeat of the slave states during the Civil War. These same people are now protesting the growing presence of Latinos, which is significant in those areas of the country.
The ongoing vilification of immigrants feeds resentment against Latinos, from the Mexican government to undocumented people. For Trump, they are all criminals who steal when they are not killing and who create unemployment and cause wages to drop when they are working. He even says that the fact that Gonzalo Curiel ‒ the district attorney assigned to his legal case for alleged fraud at his Trump University ‒ is a Latino of immigrant parents has been detrimental to him.
We must not forget that Trump led one of the best-tolerated racist campaigns in recent times when he questioned President Obama’s citizenship and religion just because he is black and has an uncommon name. That was when Trump first earned the sympathy of the unhappy Republican base that has taken him to the cusp of the Party.
Racism is a cancer to society that, today, it is not being presented as racial superiority but as a justification to rail against the threat of diversity, represented in their eyes by the ills brought about by globalization, the impact of technology on labor and by ever-changing demographics.
Trump’s nationalistic populism reaffirms and broadens these beliefs.
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