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Opinion Steve Phillips says despite Trump, ‘brown is (still) the new white’

President Trump at a rally in Elkhart, Ind., on May 10. (Joshua Lott/Bloomberg News)

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“Trump did not get the majority, and does not represent the majority. And I think we have to have to carry ourselves with that confidence.”

Steve Phillips is the founder of Democracy in Color and the author of “Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority.” The data-filled book was my political bible during the 2016 presidential campaign. Phillips argues that the majority consists of progressive people of color (23 percent of all eligible voters in the nation) and progressive whites (28 percent). All that is needed is for that majority to show up.

When I asked Phillips how his “new American majority” argument held up considering we have President Trump instead of President Hillary Clinton, he was unflinching. “Completely lost to history is that that is the majority that gave Hillary Clinton three million more votes than Donald Trump in 2016,” Phillips told me in the latest episode of “Cape Up.”


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Despite Clinton’s loss in the electoral college, Phillips continues to argue against the subsequent rush to win back so-called Trump voters to the Democratic fold. In fact, he believes it does more to alienate the base of the party. “Many people in Democratic leadership are more concerned about alienating Trump voters, white working-class voters,” he said, “than they are about inspiring voters of color.” More to the point, Phillips explained, “The Democrats did not have anybody in their team who understood either how to inspire people of color, or how to inspire and speak to and summon white people to their highest and best selves.”

‘The first white president’ is a ‘bad dude’

Phillips believes the question Democrats should ask the electorate in the age of Trump is: “What is the country we believe in?” And, in answering that question, he was adamant that “we have to force people to take a stand. Which side are they on around that? The Democrats, too often, let those who drift to Trump off the hook to not have to make the decision that, ‘Yes, I’m consciously standing with this pro-white public policy and its leader.’ ”

Also, Phillips says the Democratic Party’s priorities must be shifted in order to fulfill long-term ambitions. “It’s the voters of color that have to be primary if you actually want to win, ’cause that’s the growing population, that’s the cornerstone of this new American majority,” he explained. “Every single day, there are roughly 7,000 new people of color added to the population, as opposed to roughly 1,000 whites.” Here’s another data point Phillips dropped: “The majority of children under age five are people of color.”

There is a “New American Majority.”

Listen to the podcast to hear Phillips discuss the enthusiasm gap between the base of the Republican Party and that of the Democratic Party. He’ll also explain the factors that make Trump vulnerable in 2020, which include no non-incumbent Republican having won the popular vote since President George H.W. Bush in 1988. But when I said, “Brother man could win again,” Phillips agreed — with a caveat. “He could easily, if people don’t turn out and vote,” Phillips replied, “but the numbers are not there in his favor if we do our job right.”

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