Thomas Edsall on Trump’s Core Supporters

Trump’s core supporters are the Americans, including Trump himself, who are the most resistant to the racial and ethnic changes taking place around them. These Americans, many of them white supremacists, have not been taken in, subsumed as it were, and as many of us had hoped, by a dominant liberal culture.


See the The Queens of Trump’s childhood, by Thomas Edsall in the NYT of April 12. 2018

Trump Wants America to Revert to the Queens of His Childhood

Donald J. Trump’s childhood home in the Jamaica Estates section of Queens.
CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times

Queens (that’s one of the five New York City boroughs, the others being Manhattan, Brooklyn,  the Bronx and Staten Island) when Trump  was living there the 1950 census found that 96.5 percent of the 1.55 million Queens residents were white. In 1960, when Trump turned 14, there were so few Hispanics that the census did not keep count; by 1970, when Trump turned 24, 153,691, or one out of 13, Queens residents were Latino. From 1960 to 1970, the black population of Queens grew from 145,885 to 258,006.

By July 2016, when Trump had defied the odds and wrestled the presidential nomination away from 16 mainstream Republicans, Queens had become one of the most diverse counties in the country. The white share of the Queens population had fallen to 25.3 percent; almost half of the residents, 47.5 percent, were foreign-born; Hispanics, at 28 percent of the population, outnumbered whites; Asian-Americans made up 26.7 percent; and African-Americans made up 20.7 percent.

And by 2016, Queens was no longer Trump turf. He won 21.8 percent of the borough’s voters while Hillary Clinton swept it with 75.4 percent.

Donald Trump “grew up in white America,” a former neighbor of the Trumps, told The Times in 2015. “It’s the way of the world; white America is a thing of the past. The white man’s gone.”

The home of Trump’s boyhood, in regard to its racial makeup, is no more, and in his old neighborhoods there are people he doesn’t recognize, speaking a hundred different languages, showing Trump,  when and if he does go to his boyhood home, their hugely different cultures and ways of life.

And Trump, as well as the millions of his base, his die hard supporters, is not comfortable with the changes. Trump is an ordinary man, nothing grand about him, and the changes from the Queens of his youth make him want to bring back the past. When he says make America great again, he is really saying bring my America, the Queens of my youth back. And our problem is that he now wants to bring not just Queens back to an earlier time, but the whole country which is  is also undergoing the same racial and ethnic changes, back to what it was, when it was majority white.

Hence Trump’s support for the white supremacists. Is he a racist? Well yes in the sense that he speaks about people in regard to what we call mistakingly racial characteristics, the color of the skin, the shape and look of the eyes, the facial characteristics etc.

Trump doesn’t at all realize that he can’t change what is happening. It’s stronger than he is. In fact history is stronger than all of us, is taking all of us along with it, and in order not to fall off we have to get on board and make ourselves heard and comfortable. It is the nature of the past, even at the end of the day, to be gone forever. And Trump, and all of us, would do better to live in the present, and for example live with the new immigrants to our shores, and try to get along with them.

Trump is not only is not interested in doing that, but he even wants to put up walls and erect other barriers to the waves of immigrants who are still coming to our shores. He’s wrong of course, and walls won’t protect him or us from the presence of the immigrants always among us. What’s important, that which Trump never learned, is how we treat one another, all of us, the newcomers and those of us who are already here.

Thomas Edsall asks,  What’s a non-racist way to appeal to working-class whites? And he can’t think of any.

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