While racism has become an increasingly discussed topic over the last few years, Clinton’s use of the phrase “basket of deplorables” to describe racists has made the ubiquity of racism something even the political press corps. What I often read in articles is something like this:
The public has struggled as it has grappled with Donald Trump’s new brand of bigotry, the promotion of a kind of hate that until now had existed at the far margins of politics and was censured by all decent people when it crept into the public discourse.
But it was still there throughout, it’s just that we didn’t mention it. There was a largely tacit agreement to do so, to consider racism as a marginal view, when, in fact, racist beliefs are quite common:
They are so interwoven into our society that a significant fraction of supporters of Democratic candidates–candidates who, however imperfectly and incompletely, embraced the broad goals of Black Lives Matter, especially on civil rights issues–hold racist views (according to Reuters, Sanders’ supporters, not shown in the figure, were slightly less racist than Clinton’s).
Interestingly, some of the strongest pushback against the realization that racism plays a key role in Republican electoral politics has come from ostensible non-racists who fail to understand that racist sentiments require racist people (this isn’t to deny the existence of systemic racism, but look at the figure above–there are plenty of racists too).
Racism has always been there in the woof and warp of the U.S., it’s just that it’s finally having a difficult time hiding.