Two articles with contrasting viewpoints bear reading:
Joshua Alvarez, How Trump Adopted Nixon’s Southern Strategy
Joan Williams, The Democrats’ White-People Problem
The thrust of the former article is simple: Trump, like Nixon before him, just grasped that there is a great treasure trove of votes to be had from the racists among us. Alvarez writes,
Nixon recognized that a huge chunk of Americans was incurably infected with racism. They were overflowing with gnawing resentment toward the coalition of college students, urban liberals, intellectuals, and black activists who dared to fight white supremacy. Understanding this reality, Nixon saw a clear path to the White House. He coined slogans that the Republican Party has routinely used since: law and order; the silent majority; states’ rights.
Here’s the uncomfortable truth: Nixon was absolutely right. His two successful elections are evidence of that. Appealing to the prejudices and resentments of the Confederacy’s grandchildren works as an electoral strategy. And no Republican presidential candidate has ever forgotten that.
Professor Williams’ essay is more complex and nuanced, and makes some good points. I highly recommend that you read it for yourself.
Professor William argues, among other things, that the Trump base may be divided into distinct categories, that some are much more racist than others, that class inequality and geographic inequality are a big part of the problem, that white racism is a white people’s problem, not a white working class problem, that there is a big potential market for actual populist programs, and that progressives are unlikely to prevail when they exhibit “smug condescension” toward the Trump base.
I believe that each and every one of these points is accurate. We have already moved the country 5.6 percent of where we were in 2016. I believe we can and will do somewhat better than that next time.
As for the smug condescension point, I, personally, plead not guilty. When I consider that, after everything that has happened, 45.3 percent of the voters supported the Party of Trump, I am not smug and I am not condescending. I am horrified.
Like the day when I was a little boy and the termites swarmed out of the little house in which my family lived.