Donald Trump can’t access 25 percent of the black vote and nod to white nationalists at the same time (or name them as state delegates). Donald Trump can’t stump for Israel with American Jews and somehow look past the anti-Semitism erupting from his own base (with tacit permission from his wife).
Or can he?
In 2013, the Republican National Committee issued a report based on interviews with more than 2,600 people, trying to figure out how the party had lost the 2012 presidential election. The answer, and supposed road to victory in 2016? Pass immigration reform, reach out to minorities, do better on issues affecting gays and lesbians, stop talking about Ronald Reagan, start getting outside of the conservative bubble, follow state Republicans toward the center, and stop being so attached to the interests of the wealthy.
Donald Trump does none of this.
Donald Trump — a purported billionaire — wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, has been sued for racial bias, pledged to “roll back” nationwide marriage equality, and, far from widening the GOP base, has narrowed it, his primary campaign becoming the haven of populists and, of course, total racist maniacs. Now that he's the Republican nominee for the presidency, Trump’s campaign has begun the process of reaching out to the same groups he and his fanbase have so long maligned.
Problem is, there’s not a lot of space left for them in Casa de Trump. And Trump’s efforts at “inclusion” have been stymied by his own supporters and, in many cases, his own words.
For starters, the Trump campaign has started tentatively working with black Republicans, including former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, now a political analyst for MSNBC. Steele was an early critic of Trump but has been more measured since Trump gained the support of mainstream Republicans like Chris Christie. Steele thinks that Trump’s support from white supremacist groups won’t be a problem. He told MTV News that he thinks the black Republicans he’s spoken with were “as surprised by [Trump’s racist support] as anyone else is,” but that Trump “will need to rely on black Republicans who have vast networks around the country and who are engaged in communities at all levels” in order to win. “That’s going to be more important to him than anything else, certainly relative to the Klan or white nationalists, who aren’t going to be bringing much to the table.”
That might be true, but much of the damage to Trump’s outreach efforts with minorities has already be done. Polling in New Jersey released on Tuesday shows that Hillary Clinton has a wide lead ahead of Trump with black, Hispanic, and Asian voters. In fact, while 68 percent of black voters in New Jersey say they’ll support Clinton, just 1 percent of black voters in the Garden State say they’ll support Trump. Those numbers are unlikely to improve. While Trump’s campaign has utilized high-profile black supporters, like Ben Carson, to improve its racial bona fides, Trump’s personal views — coupled with the spectre of white nationalists being among Trump’s biggest fans and delegates — will not gain him more minority supporters. (Neither will that wall between the U.S. and Mexico, even if it is a “virtual” wall, complete with “virtual” mass deportation.)
Trump’s issues with Israel — and American Jews — are equally complicated. The same candidate whose daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism, and who may be planning a visit to Israel before the Republican National Convention, has attracted the support of rabid anti-Semites — people willing to attack journalists and individuals alike with death threats. Julia Ioffe, who wrote a profile of Melania Trump in GQ in April, was besieged by attacks so vicious that she alerted D.C. police. (Notably, Melania blamed Ioffe for “provoking” the attacks.) Despite the fact that most Jewish Americans are Democrats, the GOP has prided itself on its support for Israel and Israeli interests. And yet its presidential nominee will be “neutral” on the Israel-Palestine conflict and has gained widespread support from some of the loudest anti-Semitic voices in America.
Trump’s popularity with anti-Semites is linked to increasing anti-Semitism across the political spectrum. Anti-Semites on both the far left and the far right are convinced that Jews are secretly in charge of the world’s elites and are using America to make a profit — a misguided and moronic belief that has existed for centuries but helps explain the popularity of Trump’s isolationism and “America First” foreign policy with anti-Semitic racists.
Tablet Magazine’s Yair Rosenberg told MTV News that anti-Semitism has always had a presence in the American political space, but Trump’s popularity has marked a new phase. “The issue is that there wasn’t somebody who was utterly unaccountable to elites, to the normal processes with which we police the discourse, who was willing to give voice to it and thereby empower people who otherwise felt that they were the fringe and were not given a hearing.” He added that though anti-Semitism has existed before Trump and will continue to exist after Trump, now anti-Semites believe that they’re seeing someone in Trump who thinks the same way they do. “They project an America that is devoid of minorities, devoid of difference, devoid of the things that have, in their eyes, messed it up,” he said.
Trump’s candidacy has also led to the growing popularity — at least online — of the so-called “alt right.” This group relishes Trump’s willingness to “tell the truth,” which they see as giving them the freedom to be mind-bendingly racist and anti-Semitic. They believe that the left has “controlled” the conservative movement by pointing out racism and anti-Semitism — and through so-called “political correctness” as a whole — but now, because of Trump, they feel empowered to be even more racist and anti-Semitic. Trump didn’t build the house they live in, but he did turn on the lights. (FYI: these people are also fucking dipshits.)
Donald Trump is a politician, but not a good one. He doesn’t have positions, he has enemies — minorities, other countries, whoever is opposing him at the moment. It just so happens that his enemies match those of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-immigration racists, anti-Semites, and the “alt right.” And as long as he keeps them on the bandwagon, it’ll be tough to fit anyone else on there.