Donald Trump won the most shocking election victory in American history on Tuesday evening. He did so in the face of a media calling him racist, labeling his supporters "deplorables" and terming his victory a sign of "whitelash," as Van Jones of CNN put it. He won a higher percentage of blacks and Hispanics than Mitt Romney in 2012; Hillary Clinton drew a far lower turnout among minorities than Barack Obama.
All of this suggests that the left's race card may be dead.
It may be dead because Obama's presidency killed it.
Obama came into office on the wings of high-flown rhetoric about coming together as a nation, healing our centurieslong racial rift. Instead, he delivered a racially polarized presidency, suggesting that American law enforcement was plagued by systemic anti-black bias and that the American justice system sought to crush minorities. The despicable Black Lives Matter movement earned White House invites, and police departments earned Department of Justice consent decrees.
Mitt Romney -- perhaps the most decent man to run for the White House in the last century -- was pilloried by all of these forces as a nefarious agent of bigotry. Vice President Joe Biden said openly that Romney wanted to put black people "back in chains." Obama himself stated that Romney wanted to push America back to the 1950s -- a backhanded reference to segregation.
The media treated any and all opposition to Obama's policies as a form of covert racism; MSNBC trafficked in such nonsense for eight long years. Hosts on CNN held up their hands in the "hands up, don't shoot" posture, even though that posture itself was based on a lie. The media routinely crafted narrative lies about police-involved killings, ranging from Michael Brown to Freddie Gray, then covered the ensuing riots as "uprisings" and spontaneous outbursts of underprivileged rage against the white superstructure, even in cities with a black majority, like Baltimore, Maryland.
On college campuses, professors preached the lie of "white privilege," the concept that all racial inequalities in American society must be due to a structural imbalance created by whiteness. "Safe spaces," including racially segregated spaces, became common, even as white students were told that to say that the phrase "I'm colorblind" was a "microaggression" requiring a "trigger warning."
By the time Trump came around, the American people were sick and tired of it all. They didn't want to hear about Trump's supposedly Hitlerian tendencies -- the media had already punched itself out with Romney. They didn't want to hear from Clinton and Obama about American "deplorables" -- not after watching American cities burn with Obama's tacit approval. They didn't want to hear from diversity-oriented, six-figure-earning college professors about white privilege. They just wanted a candidate who told them they weren't a bunch of racists, that America was still a good and great place.
So the race card failed.
But it is a mistake to think it's gone forever. The demographics are still shifting. The race card is dead with white voters, but it's still very much alive with minority voters. And Democrats will not run another white person for the presidency again -- not after Clinton's dramatic failure among minorities in the wake of Obama's new minority-heavy electoral coalition. Meanwhile, Trump has an opportunity, as president, to reach out and demonstrate that the race card is a lie and a sham. Here's hoping he does it, rather than hunkering down in a bubble of his own support.