Analysis: Trump is making racism boring again

President Donald Trump may be on the verge on doing something that arguably no American leader has ever done...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 8:56 AM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 8:56 AM

President Donald Trump may be on the verge on doing something that arguably no American leader has ever done:

Make racism boring.

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When Trump released an ad Thursday demonizing Mexicans and blaming Democrats for allowing an undocumented immigrant who was convicted of killing police officers to stay in the United States, some called it Willie Horton 2.0.

Horton was an African American man who was the subject of a notorious campaign ad released by an independent group of supporters of George H. W. Bush in the 1988 presidential campaign. The scowling image of Horton, a convicted murderer and rapist, was shown all across America. The ad, which was shocking at the time, was credited with sinking the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

But this is a different America and a different President. Will it have the same impact?

Maybe not, and here's why.

President George H. W. Bush was a patrician politician who was never known as a racial demagogue. He was lampooned in Saturday Night Live sketches as a nerdy wimp. There was a shock element at the time that supporters of the Bush campaign would release such a blatantly racist ad.

Is anyone shocked that Trump would release such an ad?

"This has been Donald Trump's playbook for so long," Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time."

Trump's ad comes a week before the midterm elections. Trump and the conservative media machine have been on a tear recently, warning Americans about the migrants headed north. They've implied that these migrants might have rabies and smallpox and they may be infiltrated with Middle Easterners and gang members.

If any other President said this, it could have ended their political career. But this is already a President who said African immigrants come from "shithole" countries, who once suggested that some Mexican immigrants were "rapists," and who started his political career with a racist conspiracy theory that suggested that the nation's first black President was actually born in Kenya and forged his birth certificate.

Does this new ad from Trump really shock anyone?

Trump has often been called the first "Reality TV" president. It's long been noted that he knows how to say outrageous things and concoct colorful bad guys to keep his base and the media riled up.

But commentators have recently noted that his rallies are being held at smaller venues and have not drawn the crowds they once did; and he's losing support in the Midwestern states that propelled him into the Oval Office. After Trump recently said he might revoke birthright citizenship, some commentators said all Trump has left to offer is "racial panic."

Trump may now be on the verge of being that Reality TV star who is losing his ratings because he can no longer shock anymore.

There will probably always be a segment of Americans who respond to raw racial appeals. But racism has more impact when it's cloaked.

Racism, of course, was never "boring" to many, such as the victims of lynchings. Yet there was a time when white supremacy was woven so deeply into the fabric of ordinary American life that it seemed almost mundane, just another part of ordinary life.

That's part of the reason why the Horton ad was so effective -- it was cloaked. It was positioned as a he's-not-tough-enough-on-crime attack against a candidate, when it was really saying he's a wussy liberal who won't protect your family against the big bad black man.

Trump's recent ad and his recent rhetoric take away that cloak.

But more than anything, through the sheer volume of repetition, it can cause people to tune Trump out. And when they tune you out, that is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to a man like Trump.

Racism works best when it's cloaked. Make it too raw and repeat it too much and we may soon find out that what once worked in 1988 will no longer persuade most Americans.

We'll find out next week if this is true.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 13260

Reported Deaths: 625
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds89324
Lauderdale67855
Madison65421
Scott58910
Neshoba51231
Forrest48034
Jones46713
DeSoto4616
Leake38410
Holmes36523
Rankin3496
Jackson29613
Copiah2784
Attala27014
Lincoln24320
Monroe24224
Leflore24025
Harrison2346
Newton2243
Lamar2194
Yazoo2152
Pearl River20327
Pike19611
Adams18615
Lowndes1607
Noxubee1586
Washington1535
Warren1506
Bolivar14010
Jasper1393
Oktibbeha13410
Smith13110
Covington1271
Chickasaw12612
Clarke12616
Kemper12510
Lafayette1233
Carroll11310
Wayne1090
Marion1088
Lee1045
Clay993
Winston981
Coahoma983
Lawrence901
Hancock8711
Simpson850
Itawamba857
Yalobusha824
Wilkinson829
Montgomery781
Sunflower773
Grenada752
Jefferson Davis712
Union715
Tippah7011
Marshall693
Panola622
Calhoun604
Tate591
Claiborne581
Humphreys537
Amite521
Walthall510
Tunica483
Perry462
Jefferson400
Prentiss383
Stone300
Choctaw292
Webster271
Pontotoc263
Franklin252
Tishomingo250
Quitman240
Tallahatchie241
George191
Alcorn151
Benton140
Greene71
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 14478

Reported Deaths: 551
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile1996109
Jefferson161488
Montgomery118630
Marshall6499
Tuscaloosa50512
Lee49832
Franklin4476
Shelby43319
Tallapoosa39662
Butler34411
Chambers33623
Madison2964
Baldwin2749
Elmore2637
Etowah23610
DeKalb2213
Coffee2001
Walker1981
Dallas1973
Sumter1916
Lowndes18610
Houston1644
Morgan1621
Autauga1593
Calhoun1413
Choctaw1414
Pike1360
Colbert1362
Marengo1336
Hale1293
Russell1280
Lauderdale1282
Randolph1257
Wilcox1187
Marion11310
Bullock1111
Barbour1101
Clarke1022
St. Clair1021
Pickens934
Talladega912
Greene894
Chilton871
Dale830
Cullman760
Limestone740
Jackson692
Covington651
Washington645
Winston620
Macon602
Bibb591
Crenshaw582
Henry562
Blount491
Escambia433
Lawrence420
Coosa331
Geneva330
Cherokee332
Perry310
Monroe282
Clay272
Conecuh251
Lamar200
Cleburne131
Fayette110
Unassigned00
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