One of the hardest things about Donald Trump’s election and subsequent tenure is my lost faith on my fellow Americans. To me, he seems like the worst president in history, and not by a small amount. He makes me long to bring back George W Bush. And yet, he retains a 40% approval rating. He was elected after offending nearly every group you could find at a fundraising fair, and behavior that would bet most people disqualified from serving as a local school teacher, much less POTUS.
But I at least held some faint hope that maybe he was just a slightly bigoted, hopelessly disconnected old grandpa who actually meant well. And then came Charlottesville. It’s hard to come away with any interpretation of those events that doesn’t lead to “our president is a full-on racist.”
Here’s what really interested me though. I worried about the role of racism in his election. What a tragic outcome for America if this is what got him elected. But it’s hard to discern how much was racism and how much was other stuff. So I kept a steady eye on those polls which rarely dropped below 38% in the Gallup tracking poll for more than a day or so. Would his numbers rise if people approved of this? Since Charlottesville, he’s been at 34 to 35% consistently, a drop of about 4-5% from his previous polling.
I gotta say, this gives me quite a bit of hope. It think it’s worth noting here that most Americans are not racist or even bigoted, and even fewer want to be. In 2011, well after the backlash to Obama, 96% of Americans say they have a positive opinion of Martin Luther King, and 69% are “highly favorable” opinion of him.
Even if you believe the GOP to be racist, what this shows is that racism is, at minimum, complicated. This cannot be a winning strategy for the GOP beyond the next couple of years. It makes me wonder what will happen to the current GOP. Will they bleed supporters? Will another party emerge? Will the non-racists in the party just vote for Trumpist republicans because they want other policies enacted like anti-abortion, anti-gay social policies or pro-tax, pro-business policies?
One thing seems for sure, the political parties we see today are unlikely to be the ones we see in a decade.