Donald Trump’s description of an Indiana-born judge as a “Mexican” is all part of an ongoing branding exercise:
Today, barely three out of five Americans are non-Hispanic whites. In another two or three decades, “white” people, as traditionally defined, will make up less than half the population. White America is in the process of disappearing, and it’s no surprise that tens of millions of people who thought of this as their country are frightened by the thought that it isn’t any more.
All this helps explain incidents such as Trump’s claim this week that a federal judge who has ruled against him in a lawsuit is a “Mexican,” even though the judge was born in Indiana. Clueless journalists treated this as yet another example of Trump’s apparently bottomless ignorance, when in fact it’s obviously a strategic choice on his part.
To Trump’s supporters, a person of Mexican ancestry is Mexican, rather than American, because Americans are white, and “Mexicans” aren’t. To the overt racists who make up Trump’s – and to a significant extent, the contemporary Republican party’s – electoral base, non-whites are at best Americans by courtesy or sufferance, because America has always been a white country.
A few years ago, Trump discovered that there was an enormous untapped market, as he would think of it, for overt racism in mainstream American politics. This is why he laid the groundwork for his presidential run by constantly repeating paranoid nonsense about Barack Obama not really being an American. He was, as they say in the business schools, establishing his “brand.”
It is very important to keep in mind that Donald Trump is now the leader of the Republican party, and that this means the Republican party is now the party of overt racism, in pretty much the same way the southern wing of the Democratic party was the party of overt, unreconstructed racism seventy years ago, when Trump first began to contaminate the planet.
Saying so isn’t considered polite, because that would imply that, as long as it’s the party of Trump, and, more important, Trumpism, being a Republican is no longer a respectable thing to be. It isn’t.