Racism is and always will be Donald Trump’s signature political position, but he has to find a few other official campaign issues, and right now, it’s drinking straws. Trump’s campaign is working to tap into the cultural resentments and “own the libs” mentality of so many on the right by making a giant issue over some cities’ efforts to replace plastic drinking straws. How’s that for a president really drilling down to the issues that affect Americans most?
The Trump campaign has sold $670,000 worth of plastic Trump-branded straws—44,700 packs of 10 at $15 apiece. “With the Trump straws, the campaign tapped into widespread disdain for paper straws that simply don’t work,” campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told The Washington Post. “People don’t like being told they can’t do simple things, and so the Trump straws were born.”
As the Post points out, there’s a lineage to using such minor regulations of consumer habits as wedge issues, including Sarah Palin’s grandstanding with a Big Gulp at CPAC in 2013. But in the Trump campaign’s case, of course, it’s using paper straws as a way to appeal to an angry, resentful base while distracting from all the overt racism. The big stuff Trump is engaging in includes putting kids in cages and telling Democratic women of color to leave the U.S. (racism and also racism), but straws make for a nice little distraction—a play to the same general sense of grievance, but in a way that people can brag publicly about and use to highlight their bond with Trump. They’re not going to let these damn liberals force paper straws on them, no sir!
But while straws might be a moneymaker for the Trump campaign and a nice talking point, it cannot run from Trump’s constant stream of racism.