Trump’s Code Word Appeal—“Make America Great Again!”

Richard M. Nixon, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is seen arriving at the airport in Atlanta, Ga. with his wife, Patricia, on May 31, 1968. A crowd of about 350 people greeted them as Nixon visits the South to meet with delegates from various states. (AP Photo)In what has become a rather famous or some may consider infamous interview in 1981, leading Ronald Reagan political strategist Lee Atwater, discussed plans of the Republican Party to win the white Southern vote over to the Republican Party. His approach was for the party to appeal to those issues most closely identified with Southern Conservatives who abhorred the changes that occurred in the South during the 1960’s. It was called Nixon’s Southern Strategy. The idea was for the candidate to be only lukewarm in his duties to implement those policies passed in the 1964 Civil Rights Bill and the 1965 Voting Rights Bill. This could be accomplished if the candidates simply pledged strong support for states’ rights. That term became the first in a number of codes to the Southern whites, that assured them the candidate was firmly entrenched in their corner for a return to the good old days.

Reagan took full advantage of the strategy when he coined terms such as “Welfare Queen.” And practically every Republican politician since has used the code word “Big Government” to express their support for cutting back on programs that have essentially protected the rights of Blacks and  other minorities in this country.


Now in the political year 2016 we have the Republican candidate for president playing that same old game with codes. Donald Trump has coined the term “Make America Great Again,” and it has resonated well with a certain segment of the white male population, especially in the South and it carried him through the primaries to a victory. The term “Make America Great Again” creates visions of the past that excites Trump supporters like they have not been since Reagan’s “Shining City on a Hill.”


The problem is that the population enamored by Trump’s promises, consists of those white Americans whose beliefs and practices are inimical to the continued growth and development of our country as a totally integrated and fair society. This particular segment of America, under the tutelage of right wing conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, dream of a return to a time when America was not great, and that is the irony of their efforts.

9b53cfe968a9afc85f26c5f1f26915bf_crop_northNo doubt this crowd longs for the days when white supremacy reigned economically, socially and politically. In their world, Rocky, the Great White Hope, really did beat Apollo Creed and the statue at the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is real. In their world, a Larry Bird led Boston Celtics could easily defeat a Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls, and Tiger Woods couldn’t even carry Jack Nicklaus’ golf bag and there is no way that Serena Williams could tie Steffi Graf’s modern day record of 22 major tennis victories. And most important, in their world President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and never should have been able to serve as President of the United States, and no way Michelle Obama should be First Lady and as gracious, poised and beautiful as any other First Lady to include Nancy Reagan and Jaqueline Kennedy.

hbz-obamas-gettyimages-84379057This is the world that Donald Trump promises his followers and it is their perception of the code “Make America Great Again.” The problem with that particular America is that its premise for greatness is predicated on the color of one’s skin and not the content of one’s character. It paints all other people in a negative light, the Mexican drug lord who wants to come to America to rape and pillage, the Muslim who has to be a terrorist simply because of his religious affiliation, women who have forgotten their place in society, and of course Black Americans who don’t want to work or raise their families and have lost all semblance of a decent and honorable culture. To Trump and his followers all that is necessary is to eradicate these negatives and they will have accomplished their goal to “Make America Great Again.”

The Delusional and Irrational Behavior of Certain European Americans

The attitudes and behavior of a certain segment of the European American population in this country becomes absolutely irrational, to the point of delusional when they must confront their relationship with African Americans. It is just amazing how a race of people can accomplish so many outstanding undertakings, but become totally nonsensical and almost obsessed with an aversion toward Black people. History is filled with their inability to accept the fact that they are not superior to others. And because they cannot make that grand leap, it forces them to say the most asinine things as they defend their assumption of superiority. This problem surfaced heavily right after Reconstruction, and with the attempt of European Americans to control the definition of the races. One of the leading scholars on the period, Professor Leon Litwack, captured this deviation from reality when he wrote, “The history to which Black children were exposed in the classroom and the primers made a virtual gospel of the superiority of Anglo-Saxon institutions and ways of thinking and acting. What little they learned of their own history consisted often of disparaging caricatures of Black people as the least civilized of the races—irresponsible, thoughtless, foolish, childlike people, satisfied with their lowly place in American life, incapable of self-control and self-direction.” That statement was blatantly false and not grounded in any factual evidence, other than the need for the European American to feed his own weak ego at the expense of others.


I can imagine how devastating it was to those people when Blacks began to rack up achievement after achievement over the years. How they must have looked on in amazement as Jimmy Winfield, a Black man, won the first Kentucky Derby. In fact, fifteen of the first twenty-eight Derbies were won by Black Jockeys. And the greatest jockey in the history of the sport was Isaac Murphy, who won three Derby races and 44% of all his races throughout his career. Jack Johnson forced the European Americans to seek out a “Great White Hope,” to save their dignity and preserve their lie of superiority. Jackie Robinson sent tremors throughout the entire European American consciousness, when he proved that Black ball players were equal in skills and often better than their white counterpart.

Black Americans continued to rack up accomplishments not only in sports but science, medicine, and the arts. It finally reached its apex with the election of President Barack Obama and the irrational and delusional behavior could no longer be controlled. It exploded in earnest for the entire world to observe when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared his only goal was to make President Obama a one term President, and that was on the first day of his inauguration. What happened to the traditional “honeymoon period” granted all other Presidents when they first took office? The irrational behavior of a Republican controlled Congress continued after passage of Obamacare, as the House of Representatives introduced over fifty bills to repeal that law, and invited a head of state from Israel to speak to the Congress, an obvious lack of respect for the President. For the past seven years, the President has been accused of being a dictator, a Black Muslim, born in Africa, he hates America, he wants to destroy democracy and shows more respect to the foreign dignitaries in Middle East countries than he does to America’s friends in Europe. That is all irrational behavior by any measurement.

Now as an election year approaches we are witnessing a bunch of Republican candidates, who constantly try to be more irrational than the next one. Their lack of respect for Black America is not quite as blatant as their counterparts in the 19th Century, but it still exists. Their intent is clear, they accept the attacks on President Obama as legitimate. When candidate Carlie Fioriana failed to refute a man’s attack on the President in New Hampshire when he declared Obama to be a dictator, hates America and is a member of the Nation of Islam, she became just as guilty of irrationality and just as delusional. None of the candidates have challenged Donald Trump’s ridiculous charges for years that the President was not an American citizen, and he was hiding some great failure as a college student when he failed to reveal his transcripts.


This irrational and delusional behavior is not confined to the national level. It exists right here in San Antonio, and has materialized in the struggle to change the name Robert E. Lee from a local high school as well as a statue of the traitor general on the campus. In response to a commentary I did for Black Video News on the subject of Lee, someone wrote, “Blacks so loved General Lee that they stayed on and worked for him after the Civil War.” But for the fact that I recognized this person as one of the European Americans suffering from serious delusions of grandeur, his comment may have angered me. But that is the arrogance that is associated with the irrational behavior. I did refute his statement with a quote from a former slave, George Conrad, who told one of the researchers with the Federal Writers’ Project in 1939, that “Mr. (Abraham) Lincoln was sure a wonderful man. He did what God put him here to do, took bondage off the colored people and set them free. Mr. (Robert E.) Lee sure didn’t leave no such record behind him. They tells me before he died he had a mule and a (slave) brought before him and he told the folks to protect the mule and to keep the (slave) down.”


I don’t really expect my repudiation of that pro-Lee supporter’s statement will affect him at all. Because he is so far lost in his own delusional thinking that nothing can change his myth of white superiority and his need to be important at the expense of others. It is a sickness that a certain segment of the European population has suffered from since they first invaded the continent of Africa and brutalized the people. And it just won’t go away.