Favorite

Trump savvy 

The establishment has been right all along that Donald Trump, if he is a Republican at all, is the least Republican of the candidates, but he also has proved something bigger. He knows Republican voters better than anyone else.

Trump nailed down the big Dixiecrat/George Wallace/white-supremacy vote in the old South and its remnants elsewhere by his early attacks on President Obama as "the food stamp and welfare king" and a weak quisling who is bullied by every petty autocrat in the world. By his raging attacks on immigrants and Muslims and, finally, on Pope Francis, he won over the strain of nativist and anti-Catholic voters in the party that stretches back to the Whigs and Know-Nothings. And although he is the embodiment of six of the church's seven cardinal sins — boastfulness, lust, greed, wrath, gluttony and envy (all but laziness) — as the Doonesbury comic strip pointed out, he carved away a giant swath of the evangelical vote from its zealous suitors, Ted Cruz and the rest.

A Public Policy Polling survey in South Carolina showed that 70 percent of Trump voters believed the Confederate battle flag should fly over the state Capitol and that the largest share of his voters on the question of the Civil War wished that the South had won and preserved slavery. Eighty percent of his voters liked his idea of banning Muslims from entering the country and 40 percent agreed that the government should shut all mosques.

Trump is not the first presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, to sound dog whistles on the race issue, but he is the boldest and the best at it. After capturing the Republican nomination in 1980, Ronald Reagan journeyed to the little town of Philadelphia, Miss., famous for the murder of three civil rights workers in the Freedom Summer of 1964, and announced that "I believe in states' rights," the slogan that Southerners associated with segregation.

Mississippi and most of the South had already swung to the Republicans after a Democratic Congress and president enacted civil rights laws in 1964, 1965 and 1968. But Trump swiped those votes from a field of far more conservative candidates, which none of his predecessors with Southern strategies — Nixon, Goldwater and Reagan — needed or tried to do. And he did it without a strategist like Lee Atwater or Karl Rove. (It was Atwater, by then in the Reagan White House, who explained in a taped interview with an academic political scientist in 1981 how times had changed for collaring white Southern voters: "You started out in 1954 by saying 'nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'nigger' — that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states' rights, and all that stuff, and you're getting so abstract." By 1980, he said, you promise to cut programs that are supposed to help black people. " 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'nigger, nigger.' ")

With Trump it's a celebrity showman's intuition, not studied calculation. He knows instinctively how to thrill the gallery. Who else could get a crowd to cheer a promise to murder innocent women and children if a relative is a terrorist?

The Donald could win the nomination with fewer than 40 percent of the primary votes. But if you're a business or moderate Republican, a standard conservative or even a liberal Democrat, here's the encouraging thing — or the most discouraging thing — about Trump. Little that he says is conviction. He almost certainly will govern more pragmatically than he campaigns.

That has been the pattern of men who entered politics from the celebrity ranks. Reagan ran for governor of California by denouncing welfare cheats, taxes and big government; as governor he raised taxes and signed a law imposing tough environmental rules and another making it easy for women to get abortions. As president, he cut taxes for the rich and middle incomes and then raised them repeatedly for everyone, sought detente with the hated Russians and secretly bribed Iran with boatloads of missiles to free a few Americans. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie hero turned Republican politician, ran for California governor as a right-winger and pivoted sharply to the left in office, signing the first tough greenhouse-gas emission law in the country. The great wrestler, actor and showman Jesse "The Body" Ventura performed the same act in Minnesota.

Trump has more than hinted at the same. Unlike the other Republican candidates — for president or any office — but like most Republican voters he says rich people should pay more taxes (though his proposal seems to cut them). Alone of the GOP presidential candidates he vows never to cut the great social welfare programs Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. He wants to replace Obamacare with government-guaranteed health care for everyone. Though overshadowed by his blustering, he murmurs that he won't start any wars in the Middle East.

But Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — they really believe all that stuff.

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • China in charge

    Let's turn to foreign affairs to see how we might calm the flood of anxieties over the coming Donald Trump presidency.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Religion as excuse upends Constitution

    Tirades over religious liberty since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages nationwide have awakened the ghost of James Madison, the author of the constitutional doctrine on the matter, and it isn't happy that his effort to protect religious inquiry in America is being corrupted.
    • Jul 9, 2015
  • Guns, God and gays

    Many more mass shootings like the one last week in Roseburg, Ore., will stain the future and no law will pass that might reduce the carnage. That is not a prediction but a fact of life that is immune even to Hillary Clinton.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.
  • Arkansas archeologist does his job, is asked to leave

    Amid Department of Arkansas Heritage project.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • China in charge

    Let's turn to foreign affairs to see how we might calm the flood of anxieties over the coming Donald Trump presidency.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • Dear Dead: I know what you are thinking and why because I am clairvoyant. As…

    • on December 10, 2016
  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • Don't hold your breath, Deadsea. Rational thought and logic can't exist in a fact-free environment.

    • on December 10, 2016
  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • Investigator, you must share with us how you know what i am thinking and why…

    • on December 10, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation