So, let’s go through some recent stories concerning Trump and his impact on our day-to-day political life, and despair for our republic in the process.
Let’s begin by noting that Jeb Bush–who would, by orders of magnitude, be a better president on his worst day than Donald Trump could ever hope to be on Trump’s best day–is taking a more aggressive approach in combating Trump’s rise in the polls. Bush understands what Trump does not (or at least, what Trump pretends not to understand); that in order to win a general election in 2016, Republicans have to be able to reach out to the Hispanic vote. So, among other things, Jeb Bush is denouncing Donald Trump in fluent Spanish. Apparently, this hurts Trump’s feelings, causing Trump to lash out in his patented sub-moronic way:
In an interview with conservative website Breitbart, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump dug into his opponent Jeb Bush, saying he should lead by speaking English while in the U.S.
“I like Jeb,” Trump said, according to Breitbart. “He’s a nice man. But he should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.”
Trump’s statements are so confused and ridiculous that one may be forgiven for wondering how good his English is. And Jeb Bush might be forgiven for responding to Trump’s latest verbal burp by saying “you first.” Naturally, there are some who believe that Bush should ignore Trump. But alas, Trump is not (yet) a passing fad on the political scene, and so, I don’t particularly blame Bush for having decided to take Trump on. About the only thing that I would suggest is that Bush should focus on mocking and ridiculing Trump; narcissists like Trump hate being ridiculed, and making fun of him might help contribute to Trump’s eventual implosion–which cannot come soon enough.
Trump’s calculation–as this piece indicates–is that he can defeat Bush among Republican primary and caucus voters (many of whom are white), even though Bush would be the much stronger candidate in the 2016 general election because of his ability to appeal to Hispanics. If Republicans are smart, they will reject the machinations of a candidate whose campaign depends on having the Republican party destroy itself in advance of the 2016 general election. But of course, at times, one wonders just how smart the typical Republican primary and caucus voter is. I mean, consider the following entirely accurate passage from the Washington Post article:
Thus far, Bush and Trump are presenting their party with two distinct paths — a cerebral, proven-commodity governor with a famous name and potential crossover appeal in the general election and a boisterous businessman with no political experience who today would likely underperform even Romney among Hispanics
So far, the party is going with option No. 2.
Democrats must be overjoyed. And who could blame them for their glee?
To the extent that the Trump phenomenon says something about the general state of the Republican party, Republicans ought to be displeased. I fear that Thomas Edsall’s analysis may well be quite accurate:
We have become familiar with Trump’s selling point — that he, more than any other Republican candidate, voices nativist and protectionist views in aggressive and abrasive terms, without qualm: “I Love the Mexican people. I do business with the Mexican people, but you have people coming through the border that are from all over. And they’re bad. They’re really bad.” He has vilified Latin American immigrants as “bringing drugs, bringing crime” and as “rapists.”
Not very subtly, Trump conflates American blacks with Mexican immigrants. “I know cities where police are afraid to even talk to people because they want to be able to retire and have their pension,” he declaredin Nashville on Aug. 29. “That first night in Baltimore,” when rioting broke out in protest over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, “they allowed that city to be destroyed. They set it back 35 years in one night because the police weren’t allowed to protect people. We need law and order!”
Urban gangs, in turn, provide Trump with an opportunity to link immigration and crime. “You know a lot of the gangs that you see in Baltimore and in St. Louis and Ferguson and Chicago, do you know they’re illegal immigrants?” Trump vows that after the election, “they’re going to be gone so fast, if I win, that your head will spin.”
[. . .]
The territory Trump has ventured onto is fertile ground for his brand of demagoguery.
The Pew Research Center found in a 2012 survey that while all respondents were split, 46-48, on the question of whether “the growing number of newcomers threaten traditional American values,” Republicans viewed immigrants as a direct threat to American values, 60-32, and conservative Republicans even more so, 64-30.
A more recent Pew survey in June found that when voters were given a choice between “immigrants burden the country by taking jobs, housing and health care” and “immigrants strengthen the country through hard work and talents,” a majority of those polled, 51-41, chose “strengthen the country.” Republicans, however, disagreed, with 63 percent saying immigrants were a burden and 27 percent saying immigrants strengthened the country.
If this is what the Republican party has truly become, and if the presence of people like me inside the party does nothing to change what the Republican party has become, then perhaps I ought to no longer be a member of the Republican party. Why associate with the garbage that Donald Trump is selling, and why be a member of a party that seems bound and determined to destroy itself by buying that garbage?
This hasn’t been a cheery post, has it? Well, let’s do something about that. To bring a smile on your face, read this. I am betting that Donald Trump knows nothing about Beowulf, or that even if he is familiar with the story, he would not be sufficiently self-aware to understand why Bruce Holsinger’s mockery is so funny.
(Photo via various social media sources.)