BENT BOW, ARKANSAS — Tyler Williamson is a 36-year old Republican voter from Arkansas. He and his family have lived in the same small town just south of the Ozarks for generations, and Tyler says all of them were quite excited at the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency because the billionaire mogul “speaks to the irrational fears” Tyler and his family hold central to their political beliefs.
“We’re afraid of Muslim terrorists, even though Christians have killed far more Americans than Muslims,” Tyler said, “and we’re dead convinced that immigrants, mostly from Mexico of course, are taking all our jobs and draining our social programs.” Tyler said that in the past he and his kin have voted Republican because even though GOP candidates wouldn’t speak directly to their fears of people who look differently than them and worship the same God but in a different way, they still could “pick up on the subtle hints of racism and xenophobia like a bloodhound can hear a dog whistle.”
Tyler told us Trump has “awoken a patriotic desire to make America great again” and he hopes he hangs on to win the Republican nomination. Mr Williamson, though, does see how Trump has taken a downward turn of late, evem if he does agree with Trump that women should be “punished” for getting an abortion, which should be made illegal. With Senator Ted Cruz beating Trump soundly in Wisconsin, Tyler says now he has to do “a lot of research” on the Texas Republican to see if he can match up to Trump’s “fervent and proud bigotry.”
“I’m really hopeful that Senator Cruz can raise our racist hackles like Trump has,” Tyler said, “but Cruz is already an established Senator. He’s probably going to try and be more mainstream, which always means watering down our talking points and trying not to sound stridently opposed to people who we don’t trust based on superficial reasons.”
Mr. Williamson told us it’s “a matter of political strategy” that Cruz must be “at least 85% as racist and xenophobic” in his rhetoric as Trump. Otherwise, Tyler says, Cruz risks “alienating those of us who view someone with more melanin than we have as alien.”
“It’s simple, if you look at the numbers,” Tyler said, continuing, “Trump is bringing out all the people who know that the Republicans’ problem for the last few presidential elections hasn’t been that their policies and ideas are old fashioned and out of step with modern times and reality, but instead is because we haven’t nominated someone who will spew our message with force, and court white supremacists at the same time. He’s a miracle candidate for those of us who just get that black people are inherently more violent and that immigrants are all from Mexico.”
If Cruz does win the nomination but doesn’t show the same fervor for nativist rhetoric, Tyler says he will probably do what he’s done for the last four elections.
“I’ll write in Jefferson Davis’ name. He’s dead, sure,” Tyler said, “but he’s the greatest president this country has ever known, and I’d rather a dead confederate leader be the president than a milquetoast Republican who doesn’t have the balls to be an outright, unabashed racist and xenophobe.”
The Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer is expected to be brokered, and there are several scenarios that could see someone other than Cruz or even Trump getting the nomination. The Republican nominee hasn’t lost the popular vote to the Democratic nominee in five of the last six presidential elections.