Trump Dog Whistles Confederate-Loving GOP Base and Praises Andrew Jackson.
Trump's mania seldom receives proper recognition. Despite his lack of tact, experience, eloquence or creativity, Trump is a highly savvy political dynamo. He has an enviable way of connecting with people across demographics. Unfortunately, he utilized this skill to appeal to the worst instincts in people to win an election. But ultimately, he won. So, when Trump feigns ignorance of Civil War history or praises former President Andrew Jackson, realize he's not making socially unacceptable gaffes that he'll later regret - he is making a calculated political decision.
His decision is simple and obvious. By stoking controversy over the origins of the Civil War, Trump was signaling to his Confederate Flag flying brethren that he has not abandoned them, and that he remains the face of white supremacy. EVERYONE. Knows. Why. The. Civil. War. Was. Fought. Anyone claiming the country's bloodiest war was fought over anything other than slavery has an ulterior motive (with the exception of students growing up in states like Texas, where the teaching of slavery has been outlawed and removed from textbooks).
Confederate Flag flying, treason worshipers, have been indoctrinated with the myth that the Civil War was fought over 'States rights.' So much so, that they've lost sight of the fact that the primary state right fought to preserve was the RIGHT TO OWN SLAVES! Did other factors exist for some participants? Sure. But any discussion of the Civil War that omits slavery from the dialogue is revising history and whitewashing the truth.
In an interview with Salena Zito posted by the Washington Examiner, Trump stated, "People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?" Trump is right to a degree. People do not generally question the reason for the Civil War, as it is settled and has been very well documented by historians.
When the leader of the free world asks this question, it legitimizes pro-Confederate ideology and maintains a dangerous tension that helped propel Trump to the White House.
In that same interview, Trump attempted to give the impression he was completely ignorant of Jackson's record, stating,
"I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw with regard to the Civil War. 'There's no reason for this."
Here, Trump appears to imply that 1) Jackson was alive during the Civil War (Jackson had died more than 15 years prior) 2) that Jackson would have better negotiated with both sides to avoid war (as if The South was willing to relinquish their right to own people as property) and worst of all, 3) that Jackson was somehow a product of the times. This narrative is so blatantly false, it lays bare Trump's dog whistling. Jackson was a genocidal, slave owner who is undeserving of praise under any circumstance. But having a president who functions best as a bigot whisperer draws these latent sentiments to the surface.
Trump understands that there is a segment of society that accepts and appreciates Jackson's transgressions. Those folks who share an affection for Jackson are Trump's staunchest supporters and Trump is unlikely to ever betray them.