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    Sunday, August 13, 2017

    Charlottesville: Inspired By Trump, Enabled By The GOP

    Donald Trump's tepid response to the fatal violence of the white nationalists in Charlottesville yesterday is par for the course for Trump. From not leasing to black tenants at his rental properties to his birtherism to the Muslim ban, Trump has shown his racist streak his entire life. But the Republican party has been playing footsie with these groups since the Democrats threw the racists out of their party in the 1960s and Nixon decided to capitalize on that politically via the "Southern strategy", which has been a staple of every GOP presidential campaign since then.

    Yesterday, David Duke said, "This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back." While the white nationalists may have found their voice again because of Trump, they only believe they can "take their country back" because the Republican party has been telling them that for the last 50 years. The "promises" Duke pledges to fulfill are promises that have been made by Republican party for decades and that the alt-right actually believes Trump will help deliver on.

    Steve Bannon explained why the Trump campaign was never concerned about Trump's associations with and support from the white nationalists, saying "We polled the race stuff and it doesn't matter. It doesn't move anyone who's not already in her [Hillary Clinton's] camp". In simply and starker words, Trump's Republican supporters who were not already racists did not care that the leader of their party was probably also a racist and that their party was actively seeking the support of racists. They would still pull the lever for Trump.

    So, while Trump's refusal to denounce the white nationalist violence yesterday may seem extreme, it really represents the attitude of not only the core of his support but also the core of support for the Republican party. No doubt, some "friend" of Trump will come forward and tell us he's not a racist. But even in the unlikely event that it is true, he is clearly willing to tolerate racists and use racism to his advantage. And the same is true for a large portion of the Republican party writ large. While we should certainly condemn Trump and highlight those few Republican leaders who have spoken out against this racist violence, we should also be crystal clear about where the heart of the Republican party stands.

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