Before Donald Trump became President of the United States, then attacked NFL Protests of the National Anthem, he supported flag burning. On the NFL Protests, why does Trump disrespect NFL players? It’s his “Southern Strategy”.
Trump Was For Flag Burning
On the popular CBS’s “The Late Show,” January 8th 2015, Donald Trump could be seen nodding in agreement with his friend David Letterman and said he was “100 percent right”, when the show host said that flag burning was freedom of expression, and Americans should be allowed to do it. One can witness Trump’s words and body language of support for Letterman’s pro-flag-burning position by watching the Zennie62 on YouTube vlog at the start of this post.
As you can see, Donald Trump did back flag burning as a form of protest by Americans against actions of the American Government deemed against civil liberties. And Mr. Trump believed that the confederate flags and statues should be taken down and put in a museum – that was before he said they should not be removed.
According to TIME magazine (http://time.com/4907348/donald-trump-confederate-statues-flags/) , on June 2015, Mr. Trump was asked whether or not the Confederate Flag that flew above the South Carolina state house needed to be taken down. “I think it probably does, and I think they should put it in the museum,” he replied. “Let it go. Respect whatever it is you have to respect because it was a point in time, and put it in a museum. But I would take it down, yes.” Eventually, it was removed. Here’s Trump making that statement:
This week, Pres. Trump railed against removal of "beautiful" Confederate statues — a far cry from his 2015 statement on the Confederate flag pic.twitter.com/5CMyfkgcKZ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 18, 2017
Donald Trump was for flag burning and for removing symbols of the Confederacy before he announced his run for POTUS and right up to the month of June 15th 2015. It was that month that two actions occurred: Trump said he was running for President, and then he made the statement that he believed the Confederate Flag should be in a museum.
What happened? In an effort to craft a new “Southern Strategy”, generate buzz, and win the 2016 election, Trump changed his stated views. In doing do, Donald Trump overcame a barrier that’s many decades old, and has stopped Al Smith, Thomas Dewey, Nelson Rockefeller, Robert F. Kennedy, Mario Cuomo, Rudy Giuliani, and Hillary Clinton from reaching the White House as President: the idea that a New Yorker (generally pro-choice and pro-gun control regardless of party) could never be POTUS.
What Is The “Southern Strategy”?
But what is the “Southern Strategy”? The Southern Strategy was and still is an attempt by the Republican Party to gain votes in the South by appealing to white racism against African Americans. Kevin Phillips, the noted political strategist for Richard Nixon, summed up the logic behind the Southern Strategy this way in the 1970 New York Times:
“From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”
Donald Trump’s new Southern Strategy enhances the old one (not tossing out as the Washington Post incorrectly claimed) by removing any semblance of subtlety. The new Southern Strategy employs the conservative rage against political correctness as one of its tools. Thus, Trump takes every opportunity to speak in a way that refers to blacks in ways that are not acceptable and racist. “My African American” is one example, or referring to NFL players protesting the National Anthem due to police murders of blacks as “Sons of bitches” (which launched more NFL protests) are but two of many instances where he has primed the pump of racism in advancing his modern Southern Strategy.
In this modern version of divide and conquer, the Southern Strategy gained Trump the White House not just because of how it activated white Southern and conservative suburban voters to get to the polls, but because Democrats had no compelling candidate that black voters were excited about in the wake of Barack Obama.
Hillary Clinton, who briefly tried her own modified “Southern Strategy”, delivered by her husband former President Bill Clinton, against Barack Obama, only to watch it crash and burn in South Carolina in 2008, wasn’t the tonic for blacks or voters of color to head to the polls. But many believed Clinton would win over Trump, and so didn’t vote anyway, and that allowed Mr.Trump a victory even his people didn’t really expect, according to Michael Wolff in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
Meanwhile, Trump won, and as President, continued to use an approach he once described as such that he could say anything and still get elected. Donald Trump originally entered the 2016 Presidential Election not expecting to win, but then realized on a month-by-month basis that a “Southern Strategy” was winning primaries for him. We can infer this from his pivoting away from the anti-Confederate Flag view he gave on the month he announced his candidacy, to his pro-Confederate Flag views most powerfully expressed after the Charlottesville Riots. We can see this from his pro-flag burning view shared with David Letterman to his anti-NFL Protest view blasted out to the TV and social media, today.
The GOP has supported this new Southern Strategy because it works, even though it has a limit. That limit is the growing, racially-mixed American Lower and Middle Class. According to Pew Research in 2015, the ranks of “Multiracial Americans” grew at a rate three times that for the population of the United States. Many have had negative encounters with police officers, and because of the mix with many white Americans, are forming, and in some cases reforming, their political views too.
I’ve personally seen this in Fayetteville, Georgia, where I spend much of my time outside of Oakland, helping my elderly Mom. One man I’ve developed a friendship with was a Trump supporter starting out, and came complete with the standard quips about liberals and political correctness. But his daughter’s boyfiend is black, and they had a child that my friend and his wife are helping to take care of. And in that new family, with his mixed / black grandchild, he’s seeing race in a different way than before the child’s birth. It comes out in little ways with his speech, and was particularly notable by me when he once said “It’s hard being black because you have so many racist whites.”
That came from him, the white southern Trump supporter, who talks about Trump less and less each month. And Trump himself, perhaps sensing the changing mood of the electorate, now takes actions he thinks will win black voters, take the pardoning of Jack Johnson and Alice Johnson, and the use of Kim Kardashian as the unwitting messenger for his Trump’s new approach. One that’s very much signaling the end to his Southern Strategy.
The NFL should take note of this change in Trump and embrace the plight of its black players, before it’s too late. The time for a new NFL labor agreement is fast approaching.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media