So, we are a little over twenty four hours away from the Iowa caucuses, and it would appear that Donald Trump is set to win in my former home state; the Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Trump ahead, and shows that he has held a consistent lead. I suppose this means more cause for me to despair. It may well be that Trump will not be the Republican nominee, but for now, he is doing an excellent job of muddling any appealing Republican general election message, and helping set up the GOP to lose what should be a winnable contest against Hillary Clinton in the fall. Everyone who said “don’t worry, Trump will collapse eventually. He’s just the flavor of the month. It’s too early to anoint a frontrunner, etc.” is curiously silent now.
And of course, it cannot be emphasized enough just how appalling all of this is. After all, it used to be an iron rule of American politics that if a prominent presidential candidate expressed any kind of approbation for, say, white supremacists, said presidential candidate’s campaign would be toast. But the rules just don’t apply anymore:
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump retweeted an account called “@WhiteGenocideTM” on Friday, prompting a backlash on social media over the real estate billionaire’s sharing of an apparent neo-Nazi’s depiction of rival candidate Jeb Bush.
[. . .]
Trump retweeted Donald Trumpovitz, who uses the handle “@WhiteGenocideTM,” gives the location of the account as “Jewmerica” and features an image that references George Lincoln Rockwell, a prominent figure in the neo-Nazi movement in the United States.
The tweet read, “@realDonaldTrump Poor Jeb. I could’ve sworn I saw him outside Trump Tower the other day!” and included a photoshopped image of Bush holding a “Vote Trump” sign.
Tim Miller, communications director for Bush, tweeted in response on @Timodc: “The Godwin’s Double: Trump’s anti-Jeb retweets now include one from a Nazi’s account and another calling Jeb a Nazi.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Of course it didn’t. What could the Trump campaign possibly say? Oh, and in the event that you want more background, read this. Warning: You should probably prepared to be disgusted.
Recently, National Review came out with a symposium featuring conservative and libertarian writers against Donald Trump. You most certainly should read the whole thing, as it is evidence that serious right-of-center intellectuals are prepared to fight the Trump candidacy, and are no longer just waiting/hoping/wishing that it could go away. My favorite passage comes from the piece submitted by David Boaz:
From a libertarian point of view — and I think serious conservatives and liberals would share this view — Trump’s greatest offenses against American tradition and our founding principles are his nativism and his promise of one-man rule.
Not since George Wallace has there been a presidential candidate who made racial and religious scapegoating so central to his campaign. Trump launched his campaign talking about Mexican rapists and has gone on to rant about mass deportation, bans on Muslim immigration, shutting down mosques, and building a wall around America. America is an exceptional nation in large part because we’ve aspired to rise above such prejudices and guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to everyone.
Equally troubling is his idea of the presidency — his promise that he’s the guy, the man on a white horse, who can ride into Washington, fire the stupid people, hire the best people, and fix everything. He doesn’t talk about policy or working with Congress. He’s effectively vowing to be an American Mussolini, concentrating power in the Trump White House and governing by fiat. It’s a vision to make the last 16 years of executive abuse of power seem modest.
Without even getting into his past support for a massive wealth tax and single-payer health care, his know-nothing protectionism, or his passionate defense of eminent domain, I think we can say that this is a Republican campaign that would have appalled Buckley, Goldwater, and Reagan.
Quite right. As awful as I find Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, I would vote for her in a heartbeat over Donald Trump. I wouldn’t be alone, of course; in any general election matchup between Clinton and Trump, my home state of Illinois would go for the former. But I wouldn’t even bother to vote for a third party candidate. I would rather vote for the bad Democrat over the worse faux-Republican, if only to perhaps do my part in shocking the Republican party back to sensibility. If the GOP actually does nominate Trump, then it deserves to be shocked and punished by sensible and decent Republican voters who would be justly and understandably shocked by the way in which their party has been hijacked by complete lunatics.
Indeed, I will go further–and I never thought that I would write anything like this, but here we go: I would vote for Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump. Both of them have crazy and dimwitted policy ideas, and neither evinces a strong–or event decent–understanding of the political and economic challenges of the day. But at least Sanders doesn’t make convenient common cause with white supremacists. In 2016, sad to say, that actually is a differentiator between major and prominent presidential candidates.