The political pundits are scratching their heads as to why Donald Trump is doing so well in his quest to become the Republican presidential nominee. Trump's political gaffes would have doomed the campaign of any other political candidate. He started his campaign by attacking Latinos and later Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) But Teflon Don's popularity continues to grow, especially when he talks about building a wall on our southern border to keep out Latinos and promising to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants (mostly Latinos). Trump even promises that the Mexican government will pay to build the wall. Although his supporters know that he cannot deliver on his outlandish promises, they still support him.
Teflon Don says that he can stand in the middle of Times Square and shoot someone and not lose a vote. The latest controversy to surround him came when he refused to denounce the Ku Klux Klan during an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN. When Trump was asked about certain white supremacist groups endorsing him, rather than saying, "I do not want their support," he said that he needed to research these groups, to determine whether it would be appropriate to disavow their support. Are there white supremacist groups that Trump favors? Again, nothing seems to stick to Teflon Don.
The Republican Party has adopted a strategy that consists of stoking the fears of white America. The Republican Party accuses President Obama of being divisive, but Republicans have the "Divider-in-Chief," Donald Trump, poised to be its nominee. The Republican Party is running a race-baiting campaign by stating "we want our country back" and "let's make America great again." Implicit in these slogans is that America has been taken over by blacks and Latinos — to its detriment.
According to United States census data and the Pew Research Center, the U.S. has become more diverse over the past 55 years. When I was born in 1960, the population of the U.S. was 85 percent white, 10 percent black, 3 percent Latino and 2 percent other. Today, non-Hispanic whites make up only 63.7 percent of the population. It is estimated that by the year 2060, whites will make up just 43 percent of the U.S. population. That trend is causing fear among some of the electorate. Trump is seen as the "Great White Hope," who will protect white America's majority status. In the minds of so many whites, Trump can do no wrong because he is the one who will keep whites as the majority race.
In the minds of Trump and his ardent supporters, America was great when it was 85 percent white and when the vast majority of immigrants who came to this country were from Europe. When the Statute of Liberty was erected in the United States, 88 percent of the immigrants were European. These are the immigrants that Trump says he wants. Today, only 12 percent of the immigrants come from Europe, and over 50 percent come from Latin American countries.
As Pew Research stated, "[S]hifting demographics may cause fear or a tendency to become more conservative on the part of white Americans." This is the reason that so many whites have left the Democratic Party, because it is a party of diversity. No matter how hard Republican presidential candidates seek out the few African Americans in the crowd, the Republican Party is still an overwhelmingly white party.
The RNC also realizes that without significant support from the Latino community, it cannot recapture the White House. This is one reason why Trump is causing a crisis within the Republican Party.
Austin Porter Jr. is a Little Rock lawyer.