The Washington crowd is outwardly confused about why Donald Trump leads polls and just won't implode already. But MSNBC's Rachel Maddow says the Trump phenomenon has xenophobic roots in birtherism and rhetorical ties to overt racism that ought to be familiar in politics.
First, on Monday night's show, Maddow reminded her viewers that Trump flirted with running for president during the last election cycle. And during the brief moment in which he was a potential candidate, Trump ran on a platform of "birtherism" — the debunked notion that President Obama isn't born in the United States and is scamming Americans out of rightful leadership. She also pointed out Trump's ties to WorldNetDaily and its claims that Obama is secretly a gay Muslim, arguing the conspiracy-theory politics are becoming normalized.
On Tuesday night's show, Maddow compared footage of Trump's 2016 campaign stump rhetoric and segregationist George Wallace's 1968 campaign speeches. She argues the two candidates share tactics. For example, both targeted members of the press, pollsters, and protesters during their rallies.
Maddow asked viewers, "Is it scarier that this seems so nuts, or that it now looks so normal?"
"What's scarier?" asked Maddow. "That the Republicans are about to nominate for president a WorldNetDaily-where's-the-birth-certificate conspiracy theory guy? Or the fact that a WorldNetDaily-where's-the-birth-certificate conspiracy theory guy is running a winning campaign for president that now makes him seem like just an average, everyday, run-of-the-mill Republican candidate?"
Watch Maddow analyze the Trump phenomenon in the video series below: