Loads of Republicans are appearing puzzled about Donald Trump’s re-election pitch. “He has no message,” one Republican supply told Reuters. “He must articulate why he desires a second time period,” stated one other. Some have expressed hope that Trump would discover a strategy to turn into much less polarizing, as if polarization weren’t the raison d’être of his presidency.

It’s laborious to know if Republicans like this are actually naïve or in the event that they’re simply pretending so that they don’t must admit what a foul enterprise they’re a part of. As a result of Trump does certainly have a re-election message, a stark and apparent one. It’s “white energy.”

The president began this week by tweeting out a video that encapsulates the soul of his motion. In it, a person in The Villages, an prosperous Florida retirement neighborhood, shouts, “White energy!” at protesters from a golf cart bedecked with Trump indicators. “Thanks to the nice individuals of The Villages,” wrote Trump. Solely after a number of hours and a panic among White House staffers did the president delete the tweet.

His spokesman claimed he hadn’t heard his supporter’s extraordinarily clear phrases. Trump, naturally, by no means disavowed them.

And why would he? Republicans would possibly act as in the event that they don’t know why Trump’s followers are so unfailingly loyal. Some commentators spent the primary yr or two of his presidency dancing across the motive he was elected, spending a lot time probing the “financial nervousness” of his base that the phrase got here to face for a kind of willful political blindness.

However Trump understands that he turned a big political determine by spreading the racist lie that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya. He launched his history-making presidential bid with a speech calling Mexican immigrants rapists and adopted a slogan, “America First,” beforehand related to the raging anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh. All through the 2016 marketing campaign, he gained the invaluable prize of earned media with escalating racist provocations, which his supporters relished and which captivated cable information.

Folks voted for Trump for causes in addition to racism. There was additionally sexism. Some voters have been simply partisan Republicans, or thought that actuality TV is actual and that Trump was as profitable as “The Apprentice” made him appear. I as soon as met a younger man at a Trump rally who’d voted for Obama however was anxious in regards to the taxes he’d pay when he inherited his household’s automotive dealership.

Trump, nevertheless, appears to understand that racism is what put him excessive. It’s what made his marketing campaign appear wild and transgressive and laborious to look away from.

Now Trump’s ballot numbers are cratering, we have now double-digit unemployment and our pandemic-ravaged nation has been rendered a global pariah. America is faring precisely as effectively beneath Trump’s management as his casinos, airline and rip-off college did. It’s not stunning that he’s returning to what he is aware of, and what appeared to work for him earlier than.

Actually, Trump seems to assume his downside is that he hasn’t been racist sufficient. On Wednesday, Axios’s Jonathan Swan reported that Trump regrets listening to his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s “woke” concepts — as a supply put it — together with on legal justice reform. As a substitute, he desires to double down on regulation and order. “He actually believes there’s a silent majority on the market that’s going to come back out in droves in November,” a supply advised Swan.

And so final week, as if to prod that silent majority, Trump tweeted out videos of Black individuals assaulting white individuals. (“The place are the protesters?” he requested.) He has made a degree of calling the coronavirus the “kung flu.” At a time when even Mississippi is eradicating Accomplice imagery from its state flag, Trump has thrown himself into the safety of what he calls “our heritage.”

He signed an executive order directing federal regulation enforcement to prosecute individuals who injury federal monuments — threatening them with as much as 10 years in jail — and withholding funds from municipalities that don’t shield statues. (Whether or not this latter provision is enforceable is unclear.) He said he’d veto a $741 billion protection invoice over a provision, written by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, requiring that navy bases honoring Confederates be renamed. Apoplectic over New York Metropolis’s plans to color the phrases “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue in entrance of Trump Tower, he known as the slogan “a logo of hate.”

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he was contemplating scrapping an Obama-era housing regulation that required localities to deal with unlawful patterns of residential segregation. He claimed that the initiative, which his administration had already put in limbo, was having a “devastating affect on these as soon as thriving Suburban areas.”

The message to his white supporters appeared clear sufficient: Trump goes to combat to cease individuals of coloration from coming to your neighborhood.

The Occasions reported on the president’s rationale: “Mr. Trump and his marketing campaign group, already involved about his weak spot in battleground states, have turn into more and more alarmed by inside polling displaying a softening of assist amongst suburban voters.” Trump sees clearly — extra clearly than most of his get together — that racism is the primary factor he has to supply.

There’s good motive to assume that he’s misjudging these suburban voters. Polls present {that a} rising variety of them, significantly girls, are repelled by Trump’s race-baiting and divisiveness. However Republicans who complain that the president is undisciplined, that he can’t adhere to a method, miss the purpose: Bigotry has all the time been the technique.

The Republicans who assist him are yoked to that technique. Their actual frustration isn’t that it’s ugly however that it’s not working.