Racism is the Only Card Trump Has Left

Halfway through 2020, the fears that preceded a Donald Trump presidency have mostly been realized. Several months into a global pandemic, unprecedented police brutality protests and a bottomed-out economy, Trump has proved wholly incompetent and utterly disinterested in his job. His poll numbers, even the ones he likes to brag about, continue to sink.

Trump’s on his last legs and he can feel it. But the president still has one card left, and he’ll be playing it until Election Day.


Calling the Bubba Wallace noose incident a “hoax” panders directly to his white supremacist and other racist supporters desperate to escalate their newfound culture war. The president spent the better part of Monday on Twitter trying to bait Biden and anger libs, tweeting about the Washington Redskins name change, Democratic mayor-led sanctuary cities, and repeatedly referring to COVID-19 as “China Virus.” The slew of successive tweets reeked of desperation, but the obvious racism in each post confirmed it. Amid his disastrous presidency and laundry list of failures, racism is the only reliable material he has left.

It’s fitting, since racism has been Trump’s bread and butter from the start. He kicked off his campaign with an unhinged screed against “racist” Mexicans, banned travel from Muslim-majority countries mere weeks into his presidency, and has repeatedly dog whistled white supremacists from the bully pulpit.

But as Trump feels the walls closing in around him, it’s clear the president is returning to what he knows. Black Lives Matter protests are Marxist and anti-American. Nazi symbols are “coincidentally” popping up on his campaign social media feeds and merchandise stores. Saying that all people deserve to be treated equally is “radical left socialism.” Trump and his Republican minions are saying the quiet part so loud you can hear it from the nosebleeds.

Full-blown racism and base-pandering is Trump’s only play for re-election. As his numbers crater and his failures get worse, the president is forced to play the bigoted hits that got him here. Apologists will try to downplay Trump’s open racism by saying that he’s only responding to escalating rhetoric from the left. But that only makes sense if the president’s racism is dog whistled—not shouted into a battery-powered bullhorn.