Trump Republican Supremacists

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One of the most intriguing questions about this election is why the Republican establishment supports Donald Trump.
Not why the masses of white Americans do it, this is pretty obvious. Settlers want the new lands for themselves – they build a new society, culture, and State for themselves. They displace, dispossess, and kill, if necessary, local inhabitants, and when they need workers they encourage immigration, sometimes forced, like the African slaves. Their problem is “demography,” when migrants become the majority and “take” their country. The white support of Trump is a typical attitude of settlers: they want “their” country back to the old days. We know this attitude in Israel very well, it is the discourse of the “white left.” In the U.S., the hostility to migrants is exacerbated by the neoliberal globalization aiming to weaken workers by “free labor market” competition, and by the import of cheap products fueled by “free trade” treaties.

The question is not so much to understand voters’ motivations, but instead why the Republican establishment supported him despite the fact he was apparently destroying their chances to win elections. They know that the Democratic coalition consolidated by Obama in 2008 – composed by all the so-called “colored” citizens and non-supremacist white citizens – is a constantly growing majority. The only way for the Republicans to win against this coalition is to build some type of coalition with other groups, mainly Latinos, whom they may be tempted to consider white, too. But Trump was destroying the bridges to the organized Latino communities.
At the beginning of Trump’s campaign the Republican establishment didn’t take him seriously – he is not part of “us,” they said. When he started to triumph in state after state they started to criticize him and promised to stop him at the convention, but they didn’t. Why didn’t they like him? First and foremost, he uncovers the ugly face of their discourse, brings the Republican subtext to the foreground, and shows that it is a blatant racist text. This has been the Republican subtext since Ronald Reagan’s “small government” neoliberal restructuring of the economy. Why don’t we need welfare, accessible healthcare, and education? Because “we,” the white middle class, don’t want to pay taxes for “their” (black, latinos, poor) welfare. This is the reason that much of the white working class became supporters of the Republican party and neoliberal policies, which in the long run deteriorated their situation. Trump brings to the stage the white anger against the neoliberal economy, and channels it against the minorities by using the Republican racist subtext.
The establishment doesn’t like it, not only because it shows their ugly racist face, but also because he is blaming the neoliberal policies of free trade treaties and the power of Wall Street in Washington. Trump – as the Tea Party and OWS in 2011, and Sanders in the primaries – accuses the whole political establishment of being corrupt, including Republicans. They would easily prefer the real Republican candidate, Hillary Clinton. She is hawkish in international affairs, committed to defend the interests of Wall Street, and supports neoliberal economics. They just suspect that if she is elected by the Obama coalition, and committed to Sanderist supporters, she might do something like make unexpected compromises.

In my opinion, the big majority of the Republican establishment decided to support Trump, except some courageous dissidents, because he designed a new strategy to win elections. And, not surprisingly, it is only an expansion of their own strategy against the constantly growing Democratic coalition: to prevent their vote. The obstacles to vote for poor, non-skilled, and/or people of color have been already erected in various states in the last ten years. Trump is suggesting an extended version, which includes two elements, one tactical and the other strategic. The strategic element is changing demography: preventing Mexican and Muslim migration and promoting expulsions, either direct or by intimidation. The tactical element is intimidation of voters by violent patrols around the urns, including the delegitimization of the regime if they lose the elections.
Changing demography and intimidating minorities is the new Republican answer to the shrinking power of white America. The problem is not only that this is against the democratic rules of the game, it also promotes enormous social tensions between individuals in everyday life, and increases group hostilities that already exist. The most dangerous aspect of the emergence of the new Republican strategy and open direct racism is the legitimacy white supremacist, racist, and neo-Nazi groups feel when taking to the streets. Trump called the “second amendment people,” namely armed racists, to take the law into their hands. Ariel Sharon once did a similar call to armed settlers to “take the hills” in order to sabotage the implementation of Rabin’s agreement to withdraw from Palestinian cities. Since then the military is still running after the “hilly youth.” So we know that it is easy to take the cat out the bag, but once the cat is out it is much more difficult to bring it back. This is the ultimate meaning of the U.S. presidential elections in 2016: armed white supremacists are out in the streets – and they are furious.
Lev Grinberg is a Political sociologist at Ben Gurion University and current visiting professor at Dartmouth College. Author of Politics and Violence in Israel/Palestine (Routledge, 2010) and Mo(ve)ments of Resistance (Academic Studies Press, 2013).