If 2008 was the year in which America elected her first BLACK president, could 2016 be the year in which she appoints her last ever WHITE one? And could that prospect propel Donald Trump to the 45th presidency of the United States of America?
There’s something Donald Trump may suspect about himself and that his supporters may have intuited about him but which no one has yet quite verbalised: the billionaire could very well be white America’s last shot at the presidency of the United States of America. And 2016 could be the year in which she elects her last ever white president. This could guarantee Mr Trump a victory in the same way that the prospect of America electing her first black president powered Senator Barack Obama all the way to the White House in 2008. Simply stated, Donald Trump is to white Americans what Barack Obama is to black Americans.
Like many observers I’d been struggling to grasp just what it was about Mr Trump that held such an appeal for white Americans. The Donald appeared to have been accorded a breath-taking degree of latitude with which to spew obscenities in the public square in ways never extended to any of his predecessors. The immunity from accountability granted him in the face of his vulgarities had puzzled me until I undertook a review of the most recent presidential campaign cycles and their outcomes.
In a year in which America has the potential to elect her first ever female or Hispanic or Jewish leader the real ‘presidential first’ could yet prove to be, of all things, a WASP male. For the historical symbolism and electoral allure that Mr Obama once held for African-Americans as their country’s first black president, Mr Trump may yet possess for her Anglo-Saxons as, quite possibly, their last ever white one.
While most observers continue to look to the 2040s and the end of her white majority as the key demographic milestone of a ‘changing America’ a far more significant turning-point in that country’s immediate racial future lurks just around the corner. Indeed, it may already be here. And it is this: has the United States of America arrived at the ‘tipping point’ where the demographics of her electorate are such as to forever deny its Presidency to any white candidate that relies on a plurality of white voters for victory? Put another way, if 2008 was the year in which America elected her first black president, might 2016 be the year in which she appoints her last ever white one? And could that prospect, far from hindering him, actually help to propel Mr Trump to his country’s 45th presidency?
The white electorate – those of voting age who are registered to vote and that actually bother to cast ballots – represents but a fraction of the total white populace of the United States. This brute demographic fact denied Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney the presidency in 2012. In spite of his winning a full 60% of the white vote and peeling off significant black support from President Obama, the Mormon was buried by the incumbent’s Electoral College and popular vote tsunami comprised of 93% of the African-American vote, 69% of Hispanics and a 12-point advantage with women.
With such demographics even more heavily weighted against the GOP in 2016 – and set to trend that way far into the country’s future – this may yet be the year in which America elects its last ever white president. And it is precisely this very prospect that could see Mr Trump to a truly historic victory. For the reality TV star may soon find himself in a position to leverage his status as potentially the last white president of the USA in order to perturb the demographic behaviour of the American electorate to his own advantage. As a result, Mr Trump could secure for himself an unprecedented share of the white vote if they draw the conclusion that he might just be their last presidential hurrah.
Soon might we see white support coalesce behind his candidacy right across the ideological spectrum in ways never before witnessed in an American election. Along with Independents, white Democrats could switch their allegiance en masse and vote for the GOP candidate in 2016 for the simple reason that Mr Trump will have assumed an existential significance that supersedes party politics and even the presidency itself.
Mr Trump could stand poised to capture a staggering 80% of the white vote (along with Obama-busting gains among black and Hispanic voters) that would bury his Democratic opponent in an earth-shattering 50-state landslide. And the two terms that Mr Trump would likely serve as commander-in-chief could make him the last white occupant of the Oval Office upon his departure in January of 2025. The evolving demographics of the American electorate may soon be such that all of that country’s post-2024 presidents will likely be males of colour, or women.
Mr Trump, as potentially the last white male president of the United States of America could be, in key respects, a far more ‘historic’ figure than either President Obama ever was or a President Hillary Clinton could ever be. Moreover, the US election of 2016 could soon pit the first electable female candidate against the last white male in a duel between presidential ‘firsts’ that could find them both vying for the dubious distinction of being their country’s last ever white CEO.
The electoral possibilities of campaigning either overtly or covertly as the ‘last white president’ may, however, present Mrs Clinton with a far thornier dilemma than it would Mr Trump. Playing the ‘last white president’ card could alienate the non-white support on which her candidacy depends for victory and would leave Mr Trump with an unimpeded path to the White House. Furthermore, were she to secure her party’s nomination, the former Secretary of State could find herself pegged as the de facto ‘black’ candidate in the general election (by virtue of her reliance on minority voters) and as a consequence she could sustain a disastrous ‘Bradley Effect’ on Election Day as white voters flee to her Republican opponent once safely behind the drawn curtains of the voting booth.
It now appears in hindsight that the election of Mr Obama may have marked the moment when America entered a permanently new phase of US presidential politics and one in which the former Senator, beyond simply being his country’s first black president, turns out to have been the man with whose accession to the Oval Office came a permanent end to white majority rule in America. The crushing defeats handed to John McCain in 2008 (vote margin: 9,551,000) and Mitt Romney in 2012 (vote margin: 4,968,000) – to say nothing of the Electoral College tally in both elections – would appear to indicate that not only was the Kenyan-American his country’s first black president but that his predecessor – barring a breakthrough by Mr Trump – may very well have been his country’s last ever white one.
The ‘Negro First’ societal yardstick once used to calibrate progress by African-Americans (the ‘first black this’ and the ‘first black that’) would now appear to have a corresponding metric of racial regress: the ‘White Last.’ The evolving demographics of the American populace have increasingly consigned her once-dominant Anglo-Saxons to a state of permanent decline and a condition in which the key positions of power they once held may soon have forever slipped beyond their grasp. Mr Trump could yet prove to be just the first of these great ‘White Lasts’ and the presidential canary in white America’s demographic coalmine.
It was with his trademark impudence that Mr Trump recently lamented, “[Obama] has set a very poor standard. I think that he has set a very low bar and I think it’s a shame for the African-American people,” implying that the shortcomings of one solitary individual, real or imagined, were somehow emblematic of the inadequacies of his entire race. That he may yet turn out to be the last of his own kind to ever dream of a residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may yet provide for the most Karmic of ironies.
His insults aside, if Mr Trump is indeed to be the last white president of America then black Americans owe him the same degree of support which their white compatriots lent Mr Obama in 2008. In permanently passing the presidential torch to her once marginalised minorities, the country needs to give what could be its last ever white commander-in-chief a dignified send-off. Americans owe it to themselves to throw their full support behind Mr Trump and help him to realise their nation’s full potential over the course of his two presidential terms. After all, he is a man who has done more than enough to earn it.
In a year in which defunding Planned Parenthood has become an article of the Republican faith, Mr Trump has defended the organisation for the critical services to women’s health which it provides (while rightly condemning its ghastly abortion practices) – and received applause for his stance during a GOP debate. At a time when conservatives worship the very ground on which the former president walks, Mr Trump has denounced George W. Bush as a liar who misled the American people about Iraqi WMD and sent their loved ones to their deaths in a disastrous Mideast war that has destabilised the world. In an election in which every GOP candidate has pledged to repeal Obamacare and the devil take the hindmost, Mr Trump has sworn that no American will ever “die in the streets” for the lack of health insurance on his watch. In an age where Democrats and Republicans alike decry the corrupting influence which Big Money and Special Interests exert in the political process, the business magnate has refused to take a dime from any lobbyist, has spent less than any candidate on his campaign and is reaping richer electoral rewards by the day. Since announcing his self-funded presidential bid Mr Trump has repeatedly stuck his neck out and proposed policies that fly in the face of Republican orthodoxy, risking the loss of his party’s nomination to his rivals and demonstrating over and over again that he really is in ‘this thing’ for the American people and no other reason. A more principled candidate to have ever run for high office would be hard to find. And a more deserving claimant on the trust and votes of the American people we have rarely known.
2016 could just be the year after which the most powerful political office on Earth will have forever passed beyond the electoral reach of any white candidate. In Mr Trump, the United States of America may have finally arrived at her ‘South Africa Moment’ and found in the former Apprentice host its very own ‘F. W. de Klerk’: the country’s last ever white president.