Donald Trump is running for the presidency of an America that no longer exists.
Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly reprised two of Richard Nixon’s most memorable rallying cries, promising to deliver “law and order” for the “silent majority.” But in almost every meaningful way, America today is a radically different country than it was when Nixon rode those arguments to win the presidency in 1968 amid widespread anti-war protests, massive civil unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., white flight from major cities, and rising crime rates. Trump’s attempt to emulate that strategy may only prove how much the country has changed since it succeeded.
Americans today are far more racially diverse, less Christian, better educated, more urbanized, and less likely to be married. In polls, they are more tolerant of interracial and same-sex relationships, more likely to acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination, and less concerned about crime.
Almost all of these changes complicate Trump’s task in trying to rally a winning electoral coalition behind his alarms against marauding “angry mobs,” “far-left fascism,” and “the violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats.” The Americans he is targeting with his messages of racial resentment and cultural backlash are uniformly a smaller share of American society now than they were then. [Continue reading…]