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Donald Trump (Credit: Jeff Malet,
Donald Trump (Credit: Jeff Malet,

There have been many articles positing Donald Trump as a sort of anachronism from time past. This presumption is dangerous. Donald Trump didn’t hop in the deLorean, dust off that faithful toupee of his, and decided to run for President in the year 2016. In a manner that is both vainglorious and convivial, he speaks without fear of reproof with only a perfunctory acknowledgement of conventional ethics. Trump is ultimately selling wolf tickets, and the ultra-right is here for it.

Many have come to the conclusion that Trump’s discourse strictly plays to the universal affinity of authoritarianism.

Authoritarianism–the value of order and authority, marked by aggressive distrust of “outsiders” and social change.

Trump’s appeals to a broad base of authoritarianism may in part be to blame, but when racial discrimination is the basis for these appeals one must examine this more thoroughly. To allege that this is strictly the basis of Trump’s allure benightedly disregards the issues that typically elides the experience of racial and ethnic minorities and ultimately denies the power of such rhetoric. He represents a startling consciousness that this country chooses to believe has been left behind, a brooding sect of the population that has personally felt victimized by the comings up of people of color. Howard Lavine, a scholar of political psychology at the University of Minnesota, assails that authoritarians view any social change as negative, especially the changes leading up to the rise of Trump, “authoritarians view immigrants as threatening. They certainly view Muslims as threatening. Gay rights are threatening. And President Obama himself is a very potent symbol of the rise of diversity. So you have a country that is becoming less white, by about 2 percentage points every election cycle. You have a black president. We’ve recently had two African-American secretaries of state, two African-American attorneys general, so that’s a piece of it.” This sentiment is bolstered by a newly released study produced by American National Election Study’s 2016 Pilot Study, which illustrates the prevailing belief of white perceived racial discrimination or unfair treatment perpetrated by minorities are powerful predictors of a Trump vote.

“Make America Great Again”

Social movements of the 1960s highlight the paradigm shift on the perspective of ethnicity through white polity and cultural hegemony in the United States. Conservative responses for a white polity were strong and it was established; whiteness as an institution was under attack. Conservatives “initially supporting[ed] civil rights, republicans began courting white voters who opposed racial integration. They [Republicans] turned against the Equal Rights Amendment, denounced abortion, taking positions that align with authoritarian fears and preferences,” Vox news explains. With anti-immigration, racial resentment, and racial and ethnic intolerance, the fear and anxieties of white nationalism thrives.

‘the Hispanics’ ‘the Blacks’ ‘the Muslims’

3The use of coded language has been a time worn technique for conservative styled authoritarianism, whether it was Carter calling for “ethnic purity” of white suburbia or, under Reagan, political discursive language became heavily racialization. The use of coded racial appeals to galvanize white votership has been the hallmark of American political conservatism. These appeals, largely myths and stereotypes have laid the foreground to marginalize and dehumanize these groups and have fueled racial violence.

Signs read "White lives do matter. Leave our jobs for Americans," (far right of image) "Wake up White America. Your history is being hidden or erased," pictured with Confederate. Ku Klux Klan rally in Anaheim, Ca
Signs read “White lives do matter. Leave our jobs for Americans,” (far right of image) “Wake up White America. Your history is being hidden or erased,” pictured with Confederate. Ku Klux Klan rally in Anaheim, Ca

Trump on Mexican immigrants: ‘They’re bringing drugs’, crime and are ‘rapists.’

Trump’s rhetoric of anti-crime, anti-welfare, anti-immigration increases to develop structural connections between the demonization of these particular groups and criminalization of people of color in this country, while advancing the narrative that whiteness, normalized, is considered worthy of entitlements and privileges folds of color aren’t seen as active stakeholders in this democracy–and not a legitimate part of the citizenry. All this begs the vital question where does authoritarianism end and white nationalism began? Simple answer, the fear and racial anxieties shifts support for racially conservative politicians. Fostering a white national identity and the casting-out ‘otherization’ of ‘outside’ groups allows for the viewing of non-whites through a gaze of prejudice and abysmal fantasy. The imagery of the ‘other’ pillaging taxer payer money while lazing about in their cushy under served communities is one Trump and many of his supporters can get behind.

There is a possibility that the anxieties against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities could carry Trump to the Oval Office. One edict holds true: fear of the ‘other’ is the ultimate tool. Though clownish and lacking refinement like those whom he precedes-Reagan, Nixon, Carter, Trump’s flailing may prove successful.

Naomi C. Waters


American National Election Studies:

Minneapolis Post:


Vox News:

Washington Post:

White Nationalism:


Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2012). Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, Print

MacLean, Nancy. Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan. New York: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.

Mills, Charles Wade. The Racial Contract. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1997. Print,PDF file://localhost/from http/

Morrison, Toni, Wahneema H. Lubiano, and Angela Y. Davis. The House That Race Built: Original Essays. New York: Vintage, 1999. Print. “Race and Criminalization” Davis, Y. Angela pages 264-279, pdf

Young, M. Iris (1989). Polity and Group Difference: A Critique of the Ideal of Universal Citizenship. Ethics, 99(2), 250-274. doi:10.1086/293065, from

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