The quiet part is out loud now, which will make 2020 even easier to define. Not that it's been difficult. As I've written before, it's all about race. The difference now is that the pretense of anything else is gone.
Donald Trump and his Republican Party are going full white nationalism. That is what they are banking their presidential and U.S. Senate election hopes on.
They want to keep America as white as possible as long as possible.
When the administration this week declared it would try to severely curb legal immigration by withholding green cards from migrants who use public assistance, the phony narrative about "it's only about illegal immigration" swirled down Trump's gold toilet.
It's a war on the poor, with a racist twist: It would most acutely affect immigrants from places like Central America and Africa. So now it's not just about illegal immigration and building a wall. It's also about legal immigrants with brown skin.
It's about what it's always been about: Not letting "those people" into the United States. The locals are sick of paying for "those people," even though "those people" are less of an economic strain than their born-and-raised neighbors.
Wait until the Trump base finds out about the "silver tsunami" that's coming — millions of aging Baby Boomers who don't have enough retirement savings to afford health insurance and housing, likely to strain social services beyond the max. They'll be the new "those people." Maybe their whiteness will spare them the wrath.
Trump's acting director of immigration services, Ken Cuccinelli, defended the policy by saying the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty — including the words "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore" — is about "people coming from Europe."
Yes, he really said that.
In Trump's administration, the great American ideal of being the land of freedom and opportunity espoused by the Statue of Liberty applied only to white people 130 years ago.
This is on-brand for Trump and the GOP. It's how they rallied legions of "forgotten" Americans, those disaffected white voters who saw their world changing and didn't like it.
It was white nationalism from the start, doled out mostly in subtle fashion so as not to alarm right-leaning centrists. The message was that Trump's agenda was only about protecting Americans from illegal immigration and refugees who might be terrorists.
This is how his supporters rationalized putting children in cages and separating them from their parents. Some of us weren't buying it, but were told it was only about the illegals and troublemakers. "If they'd come into this country legally, we'd have no problem with it," was the standard line we were given.
That veneer is gone. They have a problem with brown people who come here legally, too.
Trump is a racist who makes no apologies for it. Republicans needn't apologize, either. Embrace what your party has become and say it out loud and proud: A GOP vote in 2020 is a vote for white nationalism.