One of my hobbies is trying to reverse engineer what the Republicans think reality is like from their statements. What kind of world does Trump live in that he thinks he can say those things about Latino voters and still be elected? How can Jeb! Bush thinks he can say black voters want free stuff and persuade enough people to vote for him? Part of the answer is a belief in white supremacy. These mainstream white supremacists believe that members of other races all act alike (or most do so) and act in a way that demonstrates they are inferior to whites. Sometimes that superiority is restricted to whites of a certain class and sometimes it isn’t. Let’s examine those beliefs one at a time.  As President Obama said at the 2014 Washington correspondents dinner “As a general rule, things don’t like end well if the sentence starts, “Let me tell you something I know about the negro.”  You don’t really need to hear the rest of it.”  The generalization that all or even most of an ethnic group behaves, thinks, feels or reacts a certain way,  is a sure sign that one’s experience, class position, or ideology has prevented him from truly knowing enough such people. When someone says about anyone or anything that they are all alike, it usually means that they have not absorbed enough experiences of the thing to be able to differentiate them. Stereotypes are the common first way of understanding phenomena of which you have little experience. Maturity is expanding your knowledge of such phenomena so that you change your initial stereotype. Class or rigid ideologies can prevent some from maturing past their stereotypes of the world. It is creating a false reality instead of the actual reality in the way say a historical novel or movie creates a false reality of the past while still claiming authenticity.

The stereotyping itself would be bad reasoning enough, but the implicit (or sometimes explicit) inferiority attributed to others makes it worse. Trump’s statements imply that there are are more rapists and murderers among Latinos than among whites.  Jeb! implies that black people vote only to gain “free stuff” unlike whites who vote because of their “hopes and aspirations.” Any such assumptions are of course based on belief in the inherent criminality of other races or the “child-like” quality of other races which is satisfied with immediate gratification rather than long range planning. Hmm, where have we heard that before? Oh right from slaveholders, condescending bosses, and members of the upper class who propagated such white supremacy beliefs so strongly that lower class whites came to believe them even when it is to their detriment. Trump, Jeb! and others have found a way of encasing their racist beliefs in a rhetoric that in their minds and in their realities denies their racism.

Even more frightening is their belief that spouting such racially charged rhetoric will lead to their election to the White House.  They are convinced that such blunt speech will demonstrate that they have overcome the straitjacket of political correctness to provide straight talk that delivers uncomfortable truths. They believe that their message will hit home among those who believe as they do and that there are enough such voters to propel them into the presidency. Such people may believe they are not racist but realistic because the views expressed fit into their constructed reality. We will eventually see whether these candidates’ assessment of the American electorate is correct. I hope they are wrong.

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