Donald Trump has done us a favor and we should thank him. His frank and unapologetic manner and words, and his celebration of plain talk instead of political correctness, has taken the veil off the racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual attitudes that are the social values orthodoxy expressed by the 17 Republican candidates for president.
Donald Trump is the popular because he is voicing the politics of George Wallace of the 1960s, and he isn't bothering to hide it. And the 16 other Republican Party candidates for President, watching his success, are opening up themselves and revealing that social values conservative orthodoxy gets some of its energy from resentment over the displacement of white, Christian, heterosexual, native born Americans as the sole expression of Americanism.
A refrain heard again and again is "take our country back." What are they talking about? Who is "our"? And what is "back"?
"Our" means regular, normal people: white, Christian, church-going, heterosexual, American born of American born parents, with men in charge and women content to serve those men.. And "back" means a world when people who didn't fit that profile were understood both by you and by them to be inferior, wrong, unequal, and powerless.
Fox News is losing its place as the purest voice of the Republican Party. The constraints of mass audience television forces their anchors and spokespeople to condemn Fox enemies with a bit of care in their language. They cannot embarrass mass market advertisers. The Trump-Fox debate tiff exposes the Fox strategic vulnerability. They need to be a little bit politically correct.
Donald Trump is not so constrained. He is speaking another language, the language of talk radio. The language of plain talk. He loves being outrageous, and he is loved for it. Jeb Bush is "weak", Anthony Weiner is "a perv", Mexicans are rapists, except a few that aren't.
"Political correctness" requires that words avoid open disrespect and contempt:
Say "undocumented", not "illegal alien".
Say "Asian", not "Chink."
Say "Black" or "urban" or "central city", not "nigger."
Say "Hispanic", not "wetback".
Say "homosexual" or "LGBT", not "faggot" or "queer".
Political correctness requires you not tell sexual jokes at work, you not call women managers "bitches", you not hint that a female TV anchor asked tough questions because she was menstruating and in a grouchy mood.
Political correctness keeps prejudice in the closet.
The fact that respectful language is termed "political correctness", and is resented for its constraints, reveals the underlying secret. Political correctness is a restraint when one needs to disguise the feelings that come first to mind when voicing certain things and use the polite language, not the frank language that reflects the contempt or resentment one feels. Open prejudice and racial-religious-sexual contempt is no longer acceptable in polite company, but the feelings of resentment continue.
What to do? Disguise and misdirect.
George Wallace of the early 1960s spoke of "segregation now, segregation forever" but by October 1968, when I heard him speak on Boston Common he asserted that he was no longer prejudiced on the basis of race. But he got his message across by condemning and mocking "protesters", the advocates for civil rights. Overtly, it was a new target, but he ginned up the same resentment in Boston's ethnic working class population. But his was a billiards bank shot, an attack on protesters, not blacks. But the audience gets it.
Trump is franker than Fox, which worries Fox and worries the Republican establishment. Some things should not be said aloud. But the Republican candidates are moving in the direction of Trump: Trump light.
Below is an opinion piece, blaming liberals for the rise of Trump. After all, it is liberals who have created the environment where a guy cannot call a spade a spade.