To her immense credit Hillary has raised the issue of race in a direct and immediate way. The Republicans, after all, have been playing the race card ever since Saint Reagan joked about the ‘welfare queen’ during the 1980 campaign, and it’s time that someone finally came out and called it what it is. And let’s not screw around and pretend that Trump with his wretched disdain for minorities is somehow outside the mainstream of Republican beliefs. The red team has never (as in never) tried to make itself attractive to the minority vote. In fact, if it were up to the GOP, minorities wouldn’t be able to vote at all. Or am I wrong and did that recent North Carolina voting rights decision throw out a law pushed through the state legislature by Democrats from the Tar Heel state?
When it comes to defining political issues in racial terms, of course, Trump has also dipped quite easily into the playbook authored by the NRA. Because if you think for one second that Gun-nut Nation’s push for concealed-carry laws is something other than a direct appeal to racial animosities and prejudices, think again. Why should everyone be walking around with a gun? To protect us from crime. And who are all those people committing all those crimes? The same people who, according to Mister Trump, are going to show up on election day, vote as many times as they can, and guarantee that the result will be ‘rigged.’
Trump’s biggest problem, and it’s been a problem for the entire Republican Party, is that they are slowly but steadily losing the party’s base. Because it was the same Republican Party, by the way, that blocked immigration from Europe after 1924. And it never occurred to those dopes and racists back then that what they were really setting in motion was a situation that would eventually lead to a basic change in the ethnicity of new Americans, due largely to the immigration reform law signed by Saint Reagan in 1986. Because this law allowed American farmers to employ non-citizens as ‘temporary’ farm workers, most of whom after the harvest season decided to stick around. Remember all those ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals’ from Mexico that Trump discovered when he first announced his candidacy?
So what we ended up with is a Presidential candidate who until he realized last week that his racist jeremiad wasn’t working, told every Ku Klux Klan rally– oops! – I mean campaign rally, that he was going to throw ‘them all the hell out.’ And, by the way, if any of those criminals and rapists are left over after the mass deportations, we can always depend on all those law-abiding, 2nd-Amendment-loving NRA members to protect us with their guns.
There’s a reason why the NRA decided to break with its own tradition of endorsing the Republican candidate in October and, instead decided back in April to go with Trump. Because the NRA has been playing the same fear-mongering racial card to its own members since it began promoting gun ownership as a response to crime. And this new advertising strategy served two purposes: it helped the gun industry make a product transition from sporting and hunting to self-defense, and it gave Republican politicians a leg up in races for various Congressional seats.
When Dana Loesch makes a video for the NRA saying she needs a gun to protect her and her family against ‘street thugs,’ does anyone have any trouble figuring out the skin color of those so-called thugs? Loesch and her NRA sponsors pander to many Americans who mistakingly believe that crime is on the rise. And they also believe that a gun will make them safe, even if they don’t own a gun.
Calling Trump a racist takes guts but is also an easy one to see. The real challenge for Hillary is to give Americans who are afraid of crime or terrorism ways to assuage their fears without going out and buying a gun.