Trump Tones Down Racism to Appeal to Educated Whites

Donald Trump has publicly invited African-Americans to vote for him, and in a meeting with prominent Hispanics last week, he hinted that he might be willing to soften his stand on Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and those people who are in the country illegally. Left unsaid is some sort of apology to Muslim-Americans for his insults to them.

Does Donald Trump believe that his hints at a possible future softer stance toward Hispanics and Blacks is going to win him their votes? Of course not. He has so alienated these groups that there is no possibility of persuading them to vote for him. His support among Hispanics according to polls is less than 20 percent, and among African-Americans, it is less than one percent. I haven’t seen any polling on Muslim-Americans, but you can bet that almost any Muslim citizen of the United States who votes in November will vote to keep Donald Trump for being elected president.

 No, Donald Trump’s target audience for his mildly conciliatory remarks consists of educated white Republicans, a group that can normally be counted on to vote for the Republican presidential contender but many of whose members have been put off this election cycle by Donald Trump’s overtly racist remarks. If you are a college-educated Republican, you may live in a white suburb or gated community surrounded by people who look and think as you do, in other words, you may be subtly racist, but you cannot allow yourself to be seen supporting someone who is openly racist.

Donald Trump’s advisers, to whom he has finally started paying some attention, are not proposing that all of us of various races and religions happily live side by side the way we do here in the older Phoenix neighborhoods. All they are proposing is that Donald Trump stop making overtly racist remarks. As far as reconciling with the racial, ethnic, and religious groups that he has denigrated, Donald Trump does not have to do that. All that he has to do is hint that he might be open to such a reconciliation to ease the conscience of educated white Republicans and permit them to mark their ballots for Donald Trump in November.

You may have noticed that Donald Trump has made his recent appeals to Blacks and Hispanics in campaign appearances in lily-white communities. If he wanted to appeal to Black and Hispanic voters, he could do so in Detroit, Chicago, or New Orleans. But no, his audience consists of white voters to whom he wants to send the message, “You can vote for me with a clean conscience. I am not the racist you once believed me to be,” all the while quietly remaining the same old racist as always.

Educated white Republicans as a group have nothing against racism in a presidential campaign, it just has to be subtle enough that they can pretend it is not there. Mitt Romney claimed repeatedly during his campaign that President Obama was taking benefits away from the elderly and putting the savings into welfare. “Welfare recipients” is a code phrase among racist-leaning people for Blacks and Hispanics, and “the elderly” are, of course, the white elderly. Mitt Romney won the white vote including the college-educated Republican vote, although enough non-whites saw through his racist appeal to cost him the election.

It is no secret that the Republican party is mainly a party of white people, and about one-fourth of those white Republicans hold college degrees. This is a sizable group of voters to lose, a group that in the past has voted overwhelmingly for the Republican presidential candidate. It is not a large enough group to swing the election in Trump’s favor in most states, but if Donald Trump, or rather his advisers, can persuade enough educated white Republicans to vote for their party’s nominee, perhaps his defeat will not be as ignominious as it might otherwise have been.

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