There is an ancient Japanese proverb that yields a universal truth: when the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends. Donald Trump’s true character is unknown to the American public. They are only familiar with the various public images he has conveyed. But a brief look at Trump’s supporters provides a great deal of insight into the “Real Donald Trump.”
Trump’s most strident support comes from a mixed bag of extremists and nut cases. These acolytes include a host of racists and white supremacists who see Trump as the embodiment of their racist causes finally coming to fruition.
Trump has publically distanced himself from some of their endorsements with “I’m not a racist” speeches, but those rebuffs have been tepid and half-hearted. It is clear that Trump wants their (and their supporters’) votes and that he is promulgating ideas that they find palatable and a good start for their agendas.
Below is a partial list of some of the more notable Trump endorsements.
- The Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi news site, endorsed Trump. “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people,” the site said in its endorsement. It then urged white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.”
- Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, which promotes the “heritage, identity, and future of European people,” said that Trump was “refreshing.” “Trump, on a gut level, kind of senses that this is about demographics, ultimately. We’re moving into a new America,” Spencer said. “I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” Spencer added, but noted that Trump embodies “an unconscious vision that white people have — that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it. I think it’s there. I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon. I think he is the one person who can tap into it.” Spencer, Osnos notes, is not the stereotype of a prejudiced yokel: At 36, he is clean-cut, and boasts degrees from elite universities. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Spencer “a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old.”
- Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a Virginia-based white nationalist magazine, said: “I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.” Taylor later told Osnos: “Why are whites supposed to be happy about being reduced to a minority? It’s clear why Hispanics celebrate diversity: ‘More of us! More Spanish! More cucaracha!’”
- Michael Hill, head of the League of the South, an Alabama-based white supremacist secessionist group, said Trump was “good” for the white racist cause. “I love to see somebody like Donald Trump come along,” Hill said. “Not that I believe anything that he says. But he is stirring up chaos in the GOP, and for us that is good.” Hill gave a speech to a crowd of cheering followers in which he railed against the “cultural genocide” of white Americans, which he said was “merely a prelude to physical genocide.”
- Brad Griffin, a member of Hill’s League of the South and author of the popular white supremacist blog Hunter Wallace, has written that his esteem for Trump is “soaring,” and has lauded the candidate for his “hostile takeover of the Republican Party.”
While none of the above groups have openly advocated violence towards minorities or immigrants, Trump’s supporters believe that once he’s elected, taking up arms will be on the table. Jim Sherota, 53, who works for a landscaping company and attended Trump’s rally in Mobile, Alabama, told The New York Times before Trump’s arrival that he hoped Trump would announce a plan to issue licenses for hunting undocumented immigrants and offer $50 for “every confirmed kill.”
Patrick Buchanan, a longtime Republican politician and operative, who many of the white supremacists named as a major intellectual influence, also sees a kindred spirit in Trump. Buchanan, who ran for president in 1992, 1996 and 2000 on a platform of right-wing populism, has lamented what he calls the “end of white America” due to immigration and increasing rights for people of color.
Buchanan told CNBC that he sees his issues “sort of come to fruition” in Trump’s campaign, and that he is “delighted” Trump is running.