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Francis Wilkinson

The Politics of Nostalgia Are Here to Stay

Republicans' firewall against changing U.S. demographics: Older voters are living longer.
In it for the long haul.

In it for the long haul.

Photographer: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images

A hankering for a past in which white supremacy and overt sexism were accepted features of daily life has made Donald Trump the most toxic presidential candidate since George Wallace. But the politics of nostalgia, which he embodies and advances, isn't a new package; Trump has simply wrapped it in barbed wire. And even if his campaign ends up short of the White House, nostalgia could still have a long political run.

The most profound demographic change in America is surely the rapid progression, fueled by immigration, to a nonwhite majority sometime near the middle of this century. That single fact explains much of U.S. politics right now, as Republicans seek to restrict (nonwhite) immigration and make it more difficult (for nonwhites) to vote while their nominee for president makes blatantly racial appeals for votes.