Trump ditches racist dogwhistle for a loudspeaker

Former president borrows rhetoric from Nazi Germany

Donald Trump at a campaign event at the weekend. Getty / AFP
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On Monday morning, I had the displeasure of reading parts of the English translation of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf to see if Donald Trump really is taking a page out of the 1925 Nazi manifesto.

The former US president – and runaway favourite to become the Republican nominee in 2024 – spent the weekend honing his strongman rhetoric and drawing comparisons to the German dictator.

He told supporters that undocumented immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and warned that they are “coming into our country from Africa, from Asia, all over the world.”

Forget about a racist dogwhistle. Mr Trump was literally yelling his views into a microphone. In case anyone was in any doubt, he later posted his comment on his social media platform, Truth Social.

“The crime is going to be tremendous, the terrorism is going to be [too],” he told thousands of cheering supporters at a campaign rally in Durham, New Hampshire.

Mr Trump made similar remarks on Veterans' Day last month, when he also pledged to “root out the communists, Marxist fascists and the radical thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country".

President Joe Biden said at the time that such remarks echo “language you heard in Nazi Germany in the '30s”. Several commentators made new comparisons to Hitler after Mr Trump's weekend remarks.

Hitler wrote his racist and anti-Semitic screed while in prison for a failed coup in Munich in 1923. Here's what he had to say about Jewish people:

“Look at the ravages from which our people are suffering daily as a result of being contaminated with Jewish blood,” wrote the future Nazi leader who oversaw the Holocaust.

He also wrote more broadly of “the poison of foreign races” that was “eating into the body of our people”, and had plenty to say about the “plague” of Marxism.

Mr Trump's comments at the weekend drew predictable howls of outrage from his opponents, with Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who is also seeking the Republican nomination, calling them “disgusting”.

Pramila Jayapal, a progressive Democratic congresswoman, said his words were “dehumanising and fascist”.

Hitler also hated the very notion of democracy, something else that Mr Trump, who refuses to admit he lost the 2020 election, struggles with.

Here's the thing, though: Just as Mr Trump embraces extremist rhetoric, many of his supporters appear to as well.

According to a new poll by the Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa, conservatives in Iowa, where the first Republican caucus of the 2024 presidential race will be held on January 15, Mr Trump's recent statements actually make them more likely to vote for him.

“I don’t care what he tweets,” one poll respondent said, according to the Register.

“It’s a little off the wall, but you know? A lot of them do stuff like that,” she added, noting that she was backing Mr Trump for his policy agenda.

His supporters also appear to have shrugged off comments Mr Trump made this month when he said he would not be a dictator – with the notable exception of his first day in office.

His supporters, always willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, said he was merely trolling his rivals and members of the hyper-sensitive liberal press.

The big question for Mr Trump then is how much any of this Nazi-esque banter can help him beyond the confines of his base.

He already lost the popular vote in 2016 and 2020, and his party underperformed at the 2022 midterms.

Mr Biden is taking a hammering in the polls and the Democrats are very skilled at losing control of the political narrative and touting the President's record.

Instead of capitalising on this by reaching out to swing voters and demographics beyond his base, Mr Trump seems determined to double down on his losing formula.

Published: December 18, 2023, 9:08 PM