Six months have gone by since the 2020 election, and many people continue to scratch their heads about how Donald Trump fared even better with minority voters than he had in 2016, which, in turn, was better than Mitt Romney did in 2012.
They perceive Romney as a principled statesman, obviously forgetting his shameless attempt to become Trump’s secretary of state after his failed bid to turn voters against him only months earlier.
And many of them are convinced that Trump is a despicable racist, so they can’t even begin to understand why any person of color would support him.
Here’s a start: Upon closer examination, most of the racists in America are actually Democrats, not Republicans.
No discussion about racism should begin without first agreeing on a definition of the word. Mine is very narrow: Racism is either 1) hatred of a particular race; or 2) a belief that such race is inherently inferior. Anything else I chalk up to race-based stereotyping, which I call “racialism.” Both concepts apply to ethnicity as well.
Some racialist remarks are supported by evidence (“black people overwhelmingly vote Democratic”), while others are statistically questionable generalizations that may sound complimentary (“Asians are so smart!”) or derogatory (“white men can’t jump,” which, incidentally, was also the title of a 1992 film about a white guy who couldn’t dunk a basketball).
Racial stereotypes do not necessarily correlate to political affiliation, at least not as demonstrably as racism does. Of the two types of racists, let’s call those who despise others because of their race “haters” and those who believe their race is superior to other ones “patronizers”; the latter tend to patronize other races without hating them, much like adults tend to treat young children.
There’s nothing good about either type, but one is clearly worse than the other. No rational person wants to be judged as dumb because of their skin color but would endure that in a heartbeat if the only other alternative is being hatefully beaten or killed for that same reason.
Thankfully, the worst group of racists, the haters, is the smaller one (though some people fall into both categories). Remember, that group does not include, say, white racialists who don’t want persons of color living in their neighborhood because “they’ll bring in crime and drugs,” or who’ll follow them around a department store out of fear that they’ll shoplift.
Those are instances of harmful racialism, but are distinct from racism.
Consider Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Sonya Sotomayor, both of whom are persons of color. Racialists won’t resent them, because they won’t worry that either is likely to loot the corner store. But hateful racists will hate them simply because of their race.
The larger group of racists is the patronizers. They may hate how white America has shackled — literally and figuratively — persons of color throughout our nation’s history, but deep down, they think they’re innately superior to them, and often hate themselves for feeling that way.
The two major parties figure into the equation when Republicans support law enforcement policies that allow police officers to do their jobs without feeling muzzled and suppressed in order to reduce crime. Hateful racists, though, welcome that as an opportunity for cops to injure or kill persons of color and will vote Republican accordingly.
Democrats, in turn, often appear to believe that nonwhite schoolchildren are too fragile to embrace white adults as role models. Or, when running for office they speak in Ebonics or Spanish, thinking they’ll score points with nonwhite voters.
And, quite often, they see persons of color as a monolith, rather than just as individualistic as Anglo-Americans with roots dating back to colonial times. That’s why patronizing racists prefer Democrats.
Consider the following example, to illustrate: Suppose there are 1000 white Americans in total. Two hundred of them are racists and 800 are not (the 800 includes racialists and non-racialists). Of the 200 racists, 170 are patronizers: 130 Democrats and 40 Republicans.
The remaining 30 racists are haters, composed of 24 Republicans and six Democrats. Therefore, there are 136 Democratic racists and 64 Republican ones in all, meaning that most of the racists in America are Democrats.
That’s why more minorities turned to Trump: They realized he isn’t a hater, but that Romney and the Democrats are patronizing panderers.
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