Donald Trump’s presidency does seem to have brought the racists out of the woodwork. But I do not think that racism alone defines Trump. In recent memory, this country has seen similar, singular movements: the Tea Party and Alabama Governor George Wallace’s following in the 1960s and early ‘70s.
There have always been pronouncements of fear of authoritarian regimes like China and Russia, with presidents describing the world as a very dangerous place. But Trump is the first to echo these fears while paradoxically fawning over the leaders themselves, becoming the authoritarian figure himself. This has inevitably led to a right-wing ideology, circling the wagons in an us-vs-them scenario of nuclear brinkmanship.
In a Trumpist world, obedience to authorities is stressed over self-reliance and introspection, even going so far as to encourage the use of force when arresting people, simply to demonstrate authority. This has echoes in right-wing regimes of the past—from Nazi brown shirts to the Chilean secret police to Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge period.
Trump describes his enemies as “losers” and “complete disasters”; childish rhetoric indeed, but its point is not lost. For people who presume privilege, emphasizing social hierarchy can be comforting. He reinforces this notion by denigrating the poor and by ascribing more value to things, simply because he—and others like him—are in a position to own them.
There really is nothing unique in Trump’s prejudice; it isn’t just anti-immigrants but truly anti-Black. The stance is a familiar one. In the 2008 presidential campaign, some Republicans betrayed their baser sensibility. One Republican club issued false ten dollar bills with Obama’s picture accompanied by stereotyped African-American food—a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken.
Many Republicans followed Trump’s lead and opposed all that America’s first Black President, Barack Obama, proposed. Trump broke the unwritten rule of political civility by questioning Obama’s place of birth, then carried this message to a base of predominantly White Americans who feared their loss of privilege.
Less subtle than his GOP counterparts, Trump has repeatedly revealed his biases, calling Muslims “dangerous” and Mexicans “rapists.” His base loves it; breaking with decades of political correctness, he blared openly what they had been saying privately.
Trump’s appeal to authoritarianism, White privilege and nativism carried him through the election and now finds footing within mainstream GOP members. They have long tolerated these views but, until Trump’s presidency, did not have a sociopolitical climate where they could comfortably express them.
Another appeal that galvanized Trump’s base was the loss of jobs to Mexican and Chinese workers. This, however, ignored the fact that the primary reason for this was the acceleration of automation and the decreasing power of labor unions in this country. Yet Trump’s blue-collar supporters tend to work in occupations that are largely shielded from Chinese and Mexican competition—transportation, repair, and construction.
Again, an emphasis of race over fact, and another chalk mark against the invasion of outsiders.
One cannot appeal to racist views and not hold them as dearly as one’s base. In the case of Donald Trump and his supporters, authoritarianism has been coupled with racism. This allows for a convenient out for Republicans wishing to have it both ways; that is, to pander to far-right racism while remaining mute on the subject so as not to be branded as such.
 When groups meet: The dynamics of intergroup contact, Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R., Psychology Press, New York, NY, 2011.
 Explaining nationalist political views: The case of Donald Trump, Rothwell, J., & Diego-Rosell, P.; unpublished Gallup Working paper, last revised November 2, 2016.