Trump, the Jim Crow President

George Wallace and Trump

President Trump has made it clear that he only cares about winning reelection in November, and that his strategy is to continue stoking racial and cultural division—keep the basest of his “base” riled up and feeling threatened by the “other,” with African Americans having now taken the focus away from Latino immigrants coming across our southern border.

Trump has had ample time to try to bridge the national divide by reaching out to those protesting systemic racism in our country, but he has done the opposite at every opportunity.  He asserts that he is the “law and order” president, as though the protestors’ grievances are nothing but threats from a lawless rabble.  Does he think that by shouting “law and order” and saying ugly things about the protestors he can make the problem go away?  How does he propose the country survives four more years of his lies, incompetence, and divisiveness?

The President’s vitriol has reached such a fever pitch that I regret having compared him to Richard Nixon’s 1968 “Law and Order” campaign.  Trump is perhaps more aptly compared to former Alabama governor George Wallace, the virulent racist and segregationist who also ran for President in 1968 and made no secret of the fact that he wanted the country to return to the Jim Crow era.  Thank goodness he only won five states, all in the deep South, a region that was still digging out from its Confederate, “slave power,” Jim Crow history.

There’s an element in our society that still wants to keep Black people “in their place.”

We like to recall the extraordinary people who fought to end Jim Crow during the Civil Rights era, and often forget the monstrosities like Wallace who tried to keep white supremacy alive and well.  He and his brethren pandered to those who wanted to keep black people down, keep them “in their place,” as the worst among them liked to say.  As I’ve said before, I’m extremely sympathetic to the plight of today’s white working class, many of whom feel they’re being squeezed out of existence by the impacts of globalization, automation, and technology, not to mention what they consider to be a continual assault on their values and culture.  But let this one time son of the “Cotton Kingdom” make his feelings crystal clear (if I may borrow a phrase from Richard Nixon): their “values” and “culture” CANNOT include hatred of the “other” and support for the systemic racism that has been endemic in this country for 400 years.  

If Trump’s base continues to allow Trump to take advantage of the worst angels of their nature, they will get what they deserve—trapped in a failing, fraudulent economic system that continues to leave them behind, and a polarized, socially divided nation that will only get worse for their children.  If they had legitimate reasons for supporting Trump in 2016, I hope they will wake up to the fact that he is nothing but an incompetent demagogue who cares about nothing but his own interests.  Otherwise, the country will suffer through four more years of a president who has shown himself to be the worst sort of Jim Crow era racist.

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