Author Leonard Zeskind

Letter to the Editors

I am writing on only two points: whether or not a Trump Bloc exists, and whether or not it is fragile and easily broken up. The evidence shows that there is indeed a historically constructed Trump Bloc. It produced Trump, rather than it being produced by Trump.

In 2009, the white nationalist movement was at an impasse, as a large number of white voters pulled the tag for an African-American president. They did not know what to do, leaving the political space for the Tea Party movement to grow. Many liberals at that time regarded the Tea Party movement as a “false grass roots,” and it was left largely alone except for the few candidates who opposed it at election time. (The Koch brothers did not support the Tea Parties, but built their own organization, Americans for Prosperity.) By 2012, the Tea Party movement became the largest anti-immigrant force in the country, eclipsing the regular anti-immigrant lobbies in size and monies. (See Beyond FAIR.)

By 2015, according to a report by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (irehr), the Tea Party had built a movement with 556,551 core members. The seven organizations of the movement had 7,683,327 sympathizers on Facebook. And polling data since 2010 showed it had about 18 percent of the American public as sympathizers.

This was an anti-immigrant movement with a strong (even if false) sense of white dispossession. They were nationalists who believed their country had been taken from them by large numbers of brown-skinned immigrants and a black president. And they wanted it back.

During 2015, the white nationalist movement regained its venom, and a number of its major voices came out in support of Trump—despite his alliance with Israel and Netanyahu. In 2016, a significant number of Tea Partiers moved over to the Threeper militia movement (according to a yet unpublished irehr study), and the balance directly supported Trump. After the election, Tea Party organizations began to shrivel into irrelevance, with Trump picking up the activists into his bloc.

Before the government shutdown, 41 percent of Americans supported building the wall, according to poll data. During the shutdown, 31 percent continued to support building a wall—even if it meant shutting down the government. That 31 percent is roughly the size of the Trump Bloc. Add into consideration, in 2017, 55 percent of non-Hispanic whites told Robert Wood Johnson Foundation pollsters that discrimination against their group (white people) existed today. That is not the number of white people who didn’t get into college because black people did. That is the number of white people who fear the end of white dominance is coming soon, as brown-skinned immigrants pile up with other people of color.

Simply put, they believe—however false their belief—that white people will lose their skin privilege as they become a minority in a nation of minorities.

The Trump Bloc will not easily go out of existence. They will likely stay an anti-immigrant bloc of whites who believe they are dispossessed by people of color.

I am working with others to break up that bloc. As of today, we are not successful.

Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (irehr)