It's Time to Get Serious About Trump's White Supremacist Supporters
We’re still a month away from April Fool’s Day, but today, the joke might be on us. As Americans across the country head to the polls in nearly a dozen states for Super Tuesday, the odds are looking good for Donald Drumpf—sorry, Donald Trump—to continue his Republican winning streak, despite having no viable plans for the future of the United States that don’t directly benefit the wealthy. So, how did this happen? The answer may lie in a particular section of his voter base.
White supremacists have latched on to the billionaire businessman’s promises to kick out and ban Syrian refugees, Mexicans, and Muslims. They’ve robocalled voters for him in Iowa, New Hampshire, and, most recently, in the Super Tuesday states of Vermont and Minnesota. In Nevada, two people in Ku Klux Klan garb stood outside of a high school during voting to support him. All of these instances were swept under the million-dollar rug for months as news pundits tried to explain his rise in the polls and his dominating lead over his competitors—until now. It took David Duke, a white nationalist and former KKK grand wizard, to finally shake America awake.
— Krystal Heath (@TheFriddle) February 24, 2016
“Voting for these people, voting against Donald Trump at this point, is really treason to your heritage,” Duke said on his radio program last week. “When this show’s over, go out, call the Republican Party, but call Donald Trump’s headquarters, volunteer,” he said. “They’re screaming for volunteers. Go in there, you’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mind-set that you have.”
Since that call to action went out, Trump has become embroiled in controversy over his refusal to give a clear disavowal of Duke and white supremacist groups like the KKK during a segment on CNN this past Sunday. He’s since renounced the leader, but has been less clear on the white supremacist groups that have rallied behind him—a tactic that’s been connected to the fact that a majority of today’s Super Tuesday states are in the South. Republicans and Democrats have latched on to Trump’s stance and used it to further distance themselves from the candidate’s views.
“Today I want to be very clear about something: If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a news conference today. While he refused to mention the candidate by name, the Democrat’s House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was far less accommodating.
“The leading Republican presidential candidate’s refusal to disavow the KKK was a breathtaking low-point for our country,” she said in a statement. “Yet while Donald Trump’s radical agenda does not reflect the values of the American people, it is a perfect reflection of many in the House Republican Conference.”
Whether Trump publicly denounces his white supremacist voter base or not doesn’t matter anymore. The fact is, both his message and his political campaign have been built on a trail of bigotry, racism, and xenophobia that’s attracted Americans with the same beliefs. On the eve of his biggest string of victories in the campaign thus far, it’s time to start asking ourselves how we let this happen.
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Original imagery via Kathryn Chadason.