Yesterday, I wrote a piece about Donald Trump baiting his base to yell racial slurs in public. I pointed out that Trump knew the press wouldn’t cover it. Several commenters on the blog asked why. I realized that I missed the biggest punch line of the story: Nobody cares.
It’s almost inconceivable that Trump’s ploy would have been ignored before 2016. In the time before Trump, our country had come to a consensus that racism was socially unacceptable—at least in public. People might be using all kinds of racial slurs behind closed doors, but they weren’t saying them out loud. If they had, the press would have called them out. If they happened at a political rally of either party, incumbents and party leaders would have disavowed and condemned them.
Not today, though. Trump’s racial call and response got barely a notice outside of social media. The press didn’t pick it up. No Republican at the rally distanced themselves from Trump’s little charade and the rest of party ignored it. They’ve dispensed with the dog whistle and embraced the bullhorn.
That’s what normalization looks like. It’s now okay to be racist in public. The media expects such behavior Trump and the people who attend his rallies. They know that no GOP politicians will disavow the behavior, so they don’t even cover it. They don’t ask Mark Robinson, the African American Lieutenant Governor who was at the rally, what he thinks. They don’t ask Ted Budd, who wrapped himself around Trump, his reaction.
They don’t ask because it’s no longer news. It’s not shocking or surprising. People would largely shrug. It’s not going to change any minds or any votes. We know who Trump is and we know who his base. Part of the GOP is blatantly bigoted and nobody really cares. It’s where Trump and the Republican Party has taken our country.