The Donald Trump campaign is the Manhattan Liberal vision of what the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan campaigns were. From last summer, Trump has hit on a series of messages designed to appeal to an audience of traditional Democrat voters whom he believes he can pull across to vote for him.
If it works, then Trump’s “Southern Strategy” will actually move the Overton Window in this country, and not for the better.
I put Trump’s “Southern Strategy” in quotes because it’s a mockery of Nixon. Nixon’s Southern Strategy was akin to Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy. Nixon thought it didn’t make sense simply to cede the South to the Democrats. Trump’s strategy in this election is like the left-wing slander of the strategy: he’s trying to out-racist the old time Democrat party and appeal to older white Democrats.
The Alt-Right caught onto this early, since dog whistles like “Mexican rapists” were tuned to appeal to them. Their idea early was that even if Trump isn’t one of them, he can advance their cause, by moving the “Overton Window:”
This is both Trump’s path to victory, and the reason he must be defeated. The Trump movement is centered on, and counting on, the idea that Trump going out and saying all these racist things, will open up the country to more racism, allowing him to win, and allowing the racist “alt-right” to defeat conservatism and hijack the Republican party.
Trump’s use of slogans from Nixon and Reagan is painful to watch. “The Silent Majority” sign was one of the first his campaign made, and was a clear nod to Trump’s New York parody of the Southern Strategy. “Make America Great Again” was a minor Reagan slogan, though of course we better remember the optimistic “Morning Again in America,” as opposed to the dark, angry slogans Trump prefers.
It’s a leftist myth that Reagan won big landslides because he made coded racist appeals, never mind that he signed an amnesty compromise. So the Party of Trump is going all-in on racist appeals, some coded, some not. Rape of white women is one of the oldest dog whistles in the book, and he opened his campaign with that. Then you’ve got the Mexican judge, the repeated Jew baiting. But the biggest appeal of all he’s making, is his opposition to Black Lives Matter.
He angrily shouted in Cleveland how he’s the Law and Order candidate who will stand up to Political Correctness. “In the good old days… they’d be carried out in a stretcher folks.” is one of his famous lines. And that’s his core message right now: Donald Trump wants racist old white Democrats to see him as the guy who will do what the Democrats post-BLM won’t do anymore. He wants to be the candidate of the White Man (the Silent Majority) who will Make America Great Again by stopping being politically correct, and do something about them uppity Negroes.
The alt-right’s theory and hope is that by merely talking like this openly, and by building a major party nomination around these ideas, that the “Overton Window” will be shifted. They believe that the only reason racism is losing in this country isn’t that people don’t agree with it, but rather that they’re simply afraid to talk about it because it’s outside the “window of politically correct ideas.”
If the alt-right is actually correct, and enough of America buys into this racist garbage, then Donald Trump has a chance to win. Not only that, but if a racist campaign wins in America in 2016, then that actually will open the door to more such campaigns. Donald Trump will have executed the beginning of a political realignment in America, and will have made the Republican Party into the White Democrat Party of Racism.
That’s his path to victory, and that’s why he must lose. That’s why America is better off if he loses. If he wins, then we’ll have two left-wing parties in America, and conservatives will have no vehicle, and no voice, to stand athwart socialism and cronyism. If he loses, at least we have a chance to pick up the pieces and resume our fight to Make DC Listen.
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