For the past eight years, racial tensions have been bubbling. They’re about to spill over.
  1. With Donald Trump on the verge of claiming the Republican presidential nomination, a single question is on everyone’s mind:
  2. “How the f*** did this happen?”
  3. Some leftists attribute Trump’s rise to the GOP’s divisive racial politics in Southern states, while some conservatives blame Republican elites for alienating the rank-and-file.
  4. Both theories have elements of truth, but neither explains why Trump picked this particular moment to make his move.
    Economic conditions have improved since the Great Recession, and in theory the country’s prosperity should be an inoculation against demagoguery.
  5. However, resentment of Barack Obama has given Trump an eager audience of poor white people.
    Politically, Obama is a mainstream Democrat, but as a racial symbol he’s had a radical effect.
  6. Obama’s success, made possible by overwhelming minority support, made some pundits believe future elections would be won by the party with the broadest multicultural backing.
    However, some white voters took Obama’s victory as a threat to their positions in the status quo.
  7. A similar phenomenon occurred in the early 1900s, when nativist fears of immigrants from Southern Europe and China led to restrictive laws and social backlash.
  8. Some studies indicate racial tensions have worsened since Obama became president.
  9. Trump has exploited these anxieties, especially among those who believe Obama is a foreigner and/or Muslim.
    He’s declined to denounce the Ku Klux Klan, and encouraged violence against protestors at his rallies.
  10. Since Obama’s election, poor whites have also seen higher rates of addiction, mental illness, and mortality among young people.
    Trump’s rallies are largely populated by this demographic, along with middle-class whites who fear similar fates.
  11. Conservative media figures like Rush Limbaugh stoked these insecurities by loudly accusing Obama of enabling anti-white retribution from vengeful minority groups.
    Even if Trump eventually loses the election, he’s started a movement that isn’t likely to end soon.