Donald Trump, Dumpee: Forgetting to use the GOP racial dog-whistle is an Expensive Mistake

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Donald Trump is seeing short-term gains from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, but his recent behavior will have a fatal impact on his presidential ambitious.

Republican candidates who wanted to play to the “angry white men” were in the past slightly more subtle. Past Republican candidates have either bucked this strategy or have used “ dog whistles“– euphemistic language that hurtful to minorities but which is so indirect that it cannot be used in a political attack ad.

Mitt Romney’s infamous allegation that 47% of the electorate is beholden to the Democrats and big government for “handouts.” This incorrect assertion was just a variation on the welfare queen libel put out by people close to the Reagan circle. In fact, Romney’s 47% who receive government funds included retirees, who have rather earned the money in social security, hard-working students and Veterans.

In contrast to the subtle dog whistles of other candidates, Trump decided openly to call Mexican-American immigrants to the US burglars, pimps and rapists. He even identified Mexico as the source of the immigration, which is inexact (a million people immigrate into the US a year, half of them from Mexico and Central America, and the other half from Eurasia and Africa.) Mexican illegal immigration is almost non-existent now, and even legal immigration has fallen off a lot because of Mexico’s own good economy.

Why is Trump behaving this way, even worse than Romney?

It is because billionaires and fabulously wealthy people in general are surrounded by yes-men. No one around Trump (or Romney) can tell them that they are talking like assholes without risking being fired. That is why billionaires usually stay in the background and just give money. Trump isn’t doing it right.

Not only is it bad politics to anger, for no reason, an important part of the electorate, but it is bad business. Hence the rush to dump Trump by retailers associated with his name.

Statistically speaking, Latinos are a sufficiently large part of the electorate that no one can be president without about 40% of their vote, which is what W. Bush used to get. Trump isn’t presidential material, but the danger to the GOP is that he will poison the well for the rest of the candidates with regard to the Latinos, and sink the party in 2016. In contrast, Hillary Clinton has good relations with Latinos and her billionaire backer Haim Saban, the Israel-American cartoon magnate, owns Univision, one of the big US Spanish-language channels.

But what does it say about GOP rhetoric that as soon as a candidate articulates it clearly and abandons the dog whistles, it produces widespread public outrage?

Related video:

“Over 20 companies and celebrities broke off deals with presidential hopeful Donald Trump over his comments on Mexican immigrants. The backlash demonstrates how important the Latino voice is in America today.”

AJ+: “Here’s Everyone Who’s Dropping Donald Trump”

15 Responses

  1. Immigration from Mexico to the US has declined but not because the Mexican economy has improved; Mexico’s minimum wage buys less than half the basic food basket for a family and that is without counting expenditures for housing, transportation, clothing, or other necessities. The minimum wage is approxiately $5 per day. Not per hour, per day. Prosperity is not a principal cause for declining emigration from Mexico.
    In large part it reflects Mexico’s reduced birthrate over the last 3 decades, a decline fueled by access to contraceptives, educational opportunities for women, and continuing urbanization. There are simply fewer people, particularly young males, in the age groups likely to fuel emigration. Second, crossingthe border without documents is increasingly dangerous not only due to the long hard trek but the threat of kidnapping and physical abuse. Third, the United States attaches higher priority to pursuing dishwashers than drug traffickers, an arrangement that favors those making money off the drug trade as well as the sale of arms back across the border to Mexico.
    All this said, Trump is held in low esteem in Mexico because he is regarded as an inept buffoon; Mexicans are accustomed to seeing the wealthy move adroitly behind the scene, not pee all over themselves in their eagerness to be in front of the camera. They understand Trump is appealing to a specific part of the American electorate but that the money players will make sure he does not come anywhere near the levers of power. A certain level of illegal immigration is needed to keep border surveillance occupied and routes open for narcotics importation. Trump will not be permitted to screw that up no matter what he says.

  2. Every four years the GOP has at least one candidate whose role is to toss red meat to the Tea Party. Eight years ago….half governor Sarah Palin. Four years ago Santorum and “Death Panel” Bachmann…. this year the crown is passed to Donald Trump.

  3. “The Donald” is not behaving this way because he’s surrounded by yes men. Trump knows exactly what he is doing and has even doubled down on his remarks. He’s just speaking honestly and showing how far right the Republican party has gone. Basically the Republican base feels the same way but don’t come out and say it. Republicans also believe Muslim terrorists are sneaking across the border with thousands of illegal immigrants. They haven’t said that recently.

    Latino leaders are demanding Republican presidential candidates condemn Trump in no uncertain terms or they risk losing any hope of support in 2016. The GOP candidates haven’t done that for one reason: Blasting Trump risks losing support from the far right WHITE base. So, Trump gets a mild rebuke like “wholly inappropriate” or some other bullshit political phrases that don’t really mean anything. All the other GOP candidates are praying Trump puts a sock in it.

    A democrat recently put The Donald’s racist comments in a nutshell. If the Democratic party spent a BILLION dollars on negative campaigning they could not have gotten more bang for their bucks.

  4. Trump and others would do well to ask why there is so much emigration from Central America. They might find that the vast majority of these emigrants really don’t want to leave home, but in great part the evil side of capitalism (local and American) has made life hell for many Central Americans. One of the more egregious and more recent of many horrific events was the overthrow of the democratically-elected government in Honduras approved by President Obama and secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Honduras is now another human rights and economic basket case.

    • There have been massive street demonstrations in the capital against the current regime’s corruption for the last six Friday evenings in a row. Attached is an interesting article from Harvard Politics tracking the situation from the time of the 2009 coup to the present. It raises the question of a policy divergence between Secretary Clinton and President Obama at that time which is depressingly familiar.

      link to

  5. In 2012, Herman Cain proposed building a 20 ft. high electric border fence with this sign…

    “Warning!!! This fence will KILL you.”

    Republicans laughed about it. They’re laughing now.

  6. If the Republican Party can choose McCain and Palin as their candidates for the White House, we shouldn’t be surprised if The Donald is the party’s next choice. All we need then is to have Hillary foisted on us by the Democratic (?) Party to alert the American people as to how far this mighty nation has fallen.

    • I’m a Democrat, yet I could happily live with a Rand Paul style of non-interventionist foreign policy, realist rather than Messianic.

      Where are we going to get that from among this or any cycle’s politicians who spend their professional lives on the subtleties of getting into office and staying there whether it’s good for the country or not?

      How about some grass roots noise for drafting a Stephen Walt at the convention? Or Dr. Cole. Or Dr. Mearsheimer. Since WW II our most serious and debilitating problems have been in the field of foreign policy, not domestic politics. Almost all of our major debilitating crises for over seventy years have been in that field. It’s our interface with the outside world which obsesses most of us when we think about the Presidency yet it seems not to occur to us as a people to do anything about it.

  7. moops

    Expensive, but it did launch him to second in the polls. Santorum also probed the staying power of bigotry in #GOP primaries.

  8. We spend half the year in the west-central Mexican State of Jalisco. Among the many attractive qualities working class Mexicans display is is a very old, unwritten code of dignified, almost courtly manners. Another, equally old but more intense, is a sense of solidarity within the extended family. They stay in touch even with those who live in the United States.

    The morning after the Donald’s fiasco, our gardener, Sr. Zamora, who appears to be related to most everyone in the Village, asked me what I thought of Mr. Trump. He agreed with my assessment having heard about it narrated in Spanish on TV.

    What Trump said was deeply insulting to these proud people. I don’t think the view from the home front is going to stop at the border.

  9. The majority of undocumented immigrants crossing our southern border come from Central American (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras), but people from Mexico are still making the journey. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the number of unaccompanied alien children from Mexico (from October 01, 2014 to June 01, 2015) was 7487 as compare to 15,634 in the same time period in 2014.

    link to

    It’s not that fewer young people from ages 0-17 are trying to leave Mexico; the decline is due to the US government demanding that Mexico step up and stop more immigrants on their side of the border. We have seen an across-the-board drop in migrants (of all ages and from all areas to the south of our border) of around 50%, but that is only because Mexico is apprehending those migrants before they get to the US border.

    The same drought that is scorching California has been scorching Mexico and Central America. Mexico has historically reported a fairly low unemployment rate, but that is because it counts all of its rural citizens, who survive on subsistence farming, as employed. Well, those rural citizens are really suffering now as wells and watering holes dry up. Take a look at these recent photos in Ensenada: link to

    Our nation needs to focus on reality. The number of climate refugees is likely to climb. Right now, the US has pledged 86 million to Mexico for “upgrading Mexico’s checkpoints, roadblocks and naval bases.”
    link to

    We are focusing on corralling humans, not on fixing the root cause: ending our self-inflicted climate woes by a) lowering carbon emissions b) creating a sustainable life-style that allows us to live within the means of the planet.

    We need to elect a president who understands this.

  10. Before he made those remarks, Donald Trump was 100% certain he would NEVER win the Republican nomination. He was just putting on a show to get attention. How long can that be expected to continue before the media blows him off and concentrates on making real money with the primaries. Trump won’t win 2% of the votes in any primary. Even Republicans won’t vote for Donald Trump.

    He got people talking about him. Mission Accomplished.

  11. A past to remember:

    “Trump’s Fixation on Rape and Color: Real estate and entertainment mogul Donald Trump has soared to the top tier of Republican presidential candidates after a rant about Mexican immigrant “rapists” – not the first time that Trump has mixed the explosive topics of rape and color, leading Jeff Cohen to ask if Trump is a “serial racist.”” – link to

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