Will Thomas of the Atlas Society complains that Donald Trump is a 21st century “Know Nothing”:
Donald Trump has jumped into the race for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination with a splash. His current front-runner status reveals the ugliest side of the Republican coalition: the die-hard faction of nativists and collectivists. He’s a “know-nothing” for the 21st century. …
When Trump declares that he will expel all illegal immigrants, the racists and nativists cheer. Trump will save America for real Americans! Never mind that no administration has had the budget needed to do this task. And to do it would require creating an intrusive police state that would destroy the last vestiges of independent living in America. And for what? To elevate native-born Americans against immigrants, no matter their worth.
It’s a plausible set of claims, but it’s diluted by the author’s admission, in a different article published on the same site, that he is himself “a bit of a racist.”
I’m a bit of a racist. I’ll bet you are one, too.
Okay, no one wants to admit it. But I find I’m like most people: I take race seriously in making practical decisions. I think American blacks are likely to be less efficient and less capable at most jobs than are American whites. I think whites are likely to be sloppier and ruder than East Asians. I think Southeast Asians are likely to be cheerier than everyone. I’m worried that poorly-educated Latino immigrants might create a culture of Catholic poverty and Latin populism here in the U.S.
The passage suggests that Thomas is a bit of a nativist, too.
Here’s a hypothesis: Donald Trump is what happens when lots of people are “a bit” racist, nativist, and know-nothing in their political attitudes. Add up the hasty generalizations, the stereotypes, the selective moral laxity (and ad hoc moral severity), and then add a bit of free-floating ressentiment to the mix. Wait long enough, and iterate often enough, and the result will be Donald Trump.
For reasons that I regard as too obvious to belabor, you can’t function effectively as a critic of Trump if you’ve been part of the iteration process. Unfortunately, that’s something that can be said of large swatches of the political right, and is one reason among many for sensible people to stop cutting the Republican Party any slack and abandon them.
Put Biden on the ticket and I’ll vote for him. I’ve had enough.