Yesterday, while beginning my day, yet once again with the newspaper of record, the NYTimes, I read Thomas Edsall’s opinion piece, Donald Trump’s Identity Politics. Now I was not unfamiliar with identity politics, meaning as I take it from Dictionary.com— “political activity or movements based on or catering to the cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, or social interests that characterize a group identity.”
President Trump is all identity politics, his every tweet, every action has usually one group (such as the evangelicals) or occasionally more, (the Obama and Clinton haters for example) identities in mind. Does he ever have an idea of his own that might stand on its own weight and be discussed by reasonable people in the Congress, the Press, or elsewhere? A policy proposal for example, such as a single payer health care system, or reforms to our taxation and immigration laws, proposals to strengthen our decaying infrastructure? Well no, he doesn’t because he entered the Oval Office knowing little or nothing, and now after some eight months there he still knows little or nothing.
Yet there is one big thing that Trump does know, and he knows it very well. He may have always known it. Witness his commanding of the so-called “Birther Movement” as far back as 2011 when he mischievously began to question President Obama’s birthplace aloud in television interviews. “I’m starting to think that he was not born here,” he said at the time. And then in 2012, when he took to Twitter to declare that “an ‘extremely credible source’” had called his office to inform him that Mr. Obama’s birth certificate was “a fraud.”
The big thing he seems to have always known is that the “whites” more and more see themselves at risk of losing their privileged status in their own country.
Knowing this accounts for all the major initiatives of his presidency. The curtailing of immigration, the building of the wall, the Muslim ban, the protection and promised pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for a long time the scourge of the Latino immigrants in the SouthWest, the constant attacks on President Barack Obama…
It’s true that the Whites are threatened by the imminent loss of their majority status and of all the leaders of the political parties only Trump seems to offer them some protection from the loss.
Back to Thomas Edsall. In his
op-ed piece he includes a single graph that makes all this terribly (and disheartingly) clear. The graph explains why Trump’s base, no matter what Trump may say or do, is sticking to him. It explains why the Republican majorities in the House and Senate have not abandoned him, this in spite of their obvious displeasure with Trump’s seemingly crazy to most of us, rallies and tweets, these two his much preferred methods of showing off his presidency.
Here is the graph. It probably means that from his presidency for most of us, not white extremists, there is no relief in sight. Read it and cry along with me the beloved country.