OUT OF LEFT FIELD — Trump revives ‘Southern Strategy,’ and vice versa

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James Fujita.jpg

Donald Trump has certainly made the 2016 presidential election… interesting.

It seems like just about everything “the Donald” has said has been insulting, controversial, confrontational, provocative, unintentionally comical, or a combination thereof.

Donald Trump has certainly made the 2016 presidential election… interesting.

It seems like just about everything “the Donald” has said has been insulting, controversial, confrontational, provocative, unintentionally comical, or a combination thereof.

His outrageous attacks have made some pragmatic Republicans very nervous. It would be one thing if Trump were to only attack other candidates — that’s to be expected in the early stages of an election cycle. A candidate who can’t handle barbs from Donald Trump can hardly be expected to handle Iran, Russia, China or North Korea.

But it’s quite another thing when he attacks or insults potential voters. For whatever reason, Mexican immigrants seem to be frequent targets of Trump’s. That has angered a lot of Latinos — and Latinos have become a major force in American politics, and Republicans know it.

In a sense, Trump appears to be using a version of the infamous “Southern Strategy” used by Republicans since the 1960s. The strategy, to be blunt, courted Southern white voters by using “God and guns” — and also racism.

Of course, it would be political suicide to be too openly or blatantly racist. So, the “safe” route was to use code words and veiled language — don’t talk about discrimination, talk about states’ rights, “Welfare queens” and Willie Horton. Talk about the evils of rap music, drugs and gang violence.

As times have changed, the strategy has had to change. Anti-gay “religious freedom” laws have been going up, even as Confederate flags have been coming down. The old “tough on crime” narrative has gotten complicated as more and more attention has been paid to the excessive way that the “war on crime” has been carried out.

Still, the Southern Strategy still has some life to it, as Trump shows.

Trump found his own Willie Horton with Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who killed a white woman in San Francisco. And Trump has been pushing the anti-immigrant rhetoric hard, with talk of giant walls and invading Mexico.

Trump has been talking a lot about birthright citizenship and the so-called “anchor babies.”Changing U.S. citizenship rules is a slippery slope, one which could potentially catch such threats to American culture as Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio, depending upon how wide you cast your net. And it is highly unlikely that America would willingly tear apart the Fourteenth Amendment.

But the Trump fans are eating this rhetoric up.

And it is understandable that Trump would be fanning the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment. Without the immigration demagoguery, what is Trump? A loud-mouthed, rich and famous jerk? A late-night talk show joke with a funny-looking thing on his head? Certainly not a strong candidate for president.

With immigration, Trump is suddenly a force to be reckoned with. Republicans pay attention to Trump because they are afraid of what he will do next — perhaps further damage their relationship with Latino voters with some racist statements, or perhaps announce a Trump Party candidacy. Democrats pay attention to Trump because Democrats can benefit from the GOP civil war that Trump has been stirring up.

At this point, Democrats should be among Trump’s biggest supporters. If people are going to run from Trump’s message, we want them running toward Democratic candidates.

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James Fujita is a former GVN news editor. He works as a copy editor for the Visalia Times-Delta in California’s Central Valley. Fujita can be contacted at jim61773@yahoo.com