There seems to be at least three forms of racism that are fueling Trump’s current hold on power:
First, you have the hardcore racist white supremacists. Not every Trump supporter is a hardcore racist white supremacist, but every hardcore racist white supremacist is a Trump supporter (these are the David Dukes, Richard Spencers, Steve Kings, and Stephen Millers of the world and their followers).
Second, you have those who primarily express their racism through a willingness to use race, racial divisions, xenophobia, and racism in general to gain power. These persons may not understand themselves to be white supremacists, but they are more than willing to use racism as a political tool to gain, maintain, and expand political power (Trump himself and McConnell are at the very least representatives of this form of racism).
Third, you have those who may reject white supremacy and who may not like Trump’s overt use of racism and xenophobia to gain and maintain power, but they have decided that Trump’s policies on taxes, regulations, abortion, and perhaps some other social issues are enough to make up for his use of racial division and unwillingness to consistently denounce white supremacy and his use of racist and xenophobic rhetoric.
Those in the third category likely do not view themselves as racist, but their continuing support of Trump and his agenda that is supported by white supremacists is in effect racist in that it perpetuates experiences of injustice and violence for immigrants, refugees, and persons of color in general. Included in this third form of racism are many corporate supporters of Trump who overlook or tolerate his racism in order to continue to reap the rewards of low taxes and fewer regulations.
These three forms of racism – the first overt, the second crassly utilitarian and Machiavellian, and the third more covert and silent, all worked together to bring Trump to power, and Trump needs all three forms of racism to remain as president. Persons who express the first two forms of racism are for the most part a lost cause in terms of potential conversion, but there may be some hope that some persons in the third group may have had too much of the overt and utilitarian forms of racism to remain silent much longer. Even if that is not the case, as long as Democrats and progressive independents stay united in their resistance to Trump, there is a path that leads us beyond Trump and his racist agenda.
For those in that third category, I would point out that, “If what you believe harms others, then what think you believe cannot be right.” They know this. They still choose not to admit it to themselves. The continue to cling to their opinions and to expect policy to be imposed based on their opinions. An opinion is not fact – opinions are feelings about an issue. That’s the biggest thing Trump does for “the base;” he makes statements and policy predicated on their opinions. Gross Opinion Politics is what the GOP has become.
Consider also the impact of evangelicals, who largely fall into your 3rd category. They may be looking for Armageddon, and the time when they believe Christ will return and reign on earth. They are willing to sell out on racism in order to gain the social conditions they believe will make their lives tolerable until that day. It is very hard to reason with them.