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The Trump Effect On The GOP Future

 

What a week! Trump takes the pole position in the race for the GOP nomination, Republicans in Congress follow Trump’s lead on immigration, Spanish-language media report on it all, and serious Republicans worry about the impact of these remarkable developments on the party’s future.

Below we highlight three pieces that capture the zeitgeist: today’s lead editorial from the New York Times entitled “The Anti-Immigrant Binge in Congress;” a piece by Ed O’Keefe in today’s Washington Post about Spanish language media’s coverage of Trump; and a thought-provoking piece entitled “Why Donald Trump Truly Terrifies Republicans” by the New Republic’s Brian Beutler.

Yesterday, House Republicans passed an anti-immigrant bill, mostly along party lines.  Democrats dubbed the measure the “Donald Trump Act” because it took Trump’s offensive comments about Mexicans as “criminals” and “rapists” and translated them into legislative language.  Today’s editorial from the New York Times, “The Anti-Immigrant Binge in Congress,” points out that the rhetoric coming from House Republicans is “hard to distinguish from the rantings of Donald Trump, who brought his racist road show to Laredo, Tex., on Thursday.” The editorial begins:

Congress is in danger of taking that most cursed of American political disagreements, the debate over illegal immigration, and dragging it farther toward insanity. Bills are being rushed to the floor in the House and Senate in response to a woman’s senseless killing in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant with a long criminal record. That single crime has energized hard-line Republican lawmakers who have long peddled the false argument that all illegal immigrants are a criminal menace, and that the best way to erase their threat is by new layers of inflexible policing.

While the English-language political press is all over the Trump story, so is Spanish-language media.  The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe captures the dynamic:

While the national newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC covered Trump’s visit to Laredo, Tex., coverage of the GOP presidential candidate dominated the national news broadcasts on Univision and Telemundo. Republicans fearful of how Trump is hurting the party’s image with the nation’s fast-growing Latino voting population need only play back Thursday night’s broadcasts as proof.  Univision devoted six minutes of coverage to Trump’s visit, while Telemundo gave him a total of nine minutes. No other Republican or Democratic presidential candidate was mentioned on either program.

In the New Republic, Brian Beutler’s analysis, “Why Donald Trump Truly Terrifies Republicans,” explains that Trump is actually a monster of the GOP’s own making.  After years of indulging Trump as long as he was “outside the tent pissing further out,” Trumpism has become a serious problem for the GOP.  Beutler writes:

Trump is now inside the tent, pissing everywhere. He threatens to neutralize the potential of these [angry white] voters, or train them as a weapon against their own natural party, while bulldozing inroads to minorities. By placing xenophobic immigration politics at the center of the campaign, he’s made it practically impossible for Republicans to convince minorities that there’s a softer side of the GOP. And by condemning him so vocally, his Republican critics are reminding Trump’s supporters of everything they don’t like about the Republican party.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: “Yesterday, we saw the GOP’s chickens coming home to roost.  Donald Trump took his media circus to the southern border to demagogue the immigration issue, while his party back in Washington took to the House floor to do the same.  Meanwhile, the rest of the country—particularly Latino voters and others close to the immigration debate—watched in disgust.  When Steve King and Donald Trump are thumping their chests over an immigration “win” smart Republicans should be very, very worried about the future of the national party.  Voters don’t like to be scapegoated, maligned and misrepresented, and it’s hard to ask for their vote when you do.”

Read on for the full NYT editorial, Washington Post article, and New Republic piece.

New York Times (Opinion)The Anti-Immigrant Binge in Congress
By Editorial Board
July 24, 2015 

Congress is in danger of taking that most cursed of American political disagreements, the debate over illegal immigration, and dragging it farther toward insanity.

Bills are being rushed to the floor in the House and Senate in response to a woman’s senseless killing in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant with a long criminal record. That single crime has energized hard-line Republican lawmakers who have long peddled the false argument that all illegal immigrants are a criminal menace, and that the best way to erase their threat is by new layers of inflexible policing.

On Thursday afternoon the House passed the first of these bills, to punish state and local governments that limit cooperation with immigration enforcement and that forbid their officers to question the people they encounter about their immigration status. It would deny places with such “sanctuary” policies funding from the Homeland Security and Justice Departments for public-safety programs, essentially bleeding them of money to fight crime — in the name of fighting crime. Another measure pending in the House, “Kate’s Law,” named for the San Francisco victim, Kathryn Steinle, would impose mandatory five-year minimum prison sentences for deportees caught re-entering the country.

In the Senate, Charles Grassley of Iowa has offered a bill that combines the sanctuary-city and “Kate’s Law” provisions. Rand Paul of Kentucky and David Vitter of Louisiana have their own sanctuary-city bills, and Ted Cruz of Texas has jumped on the “Kate’s Law” bandwagon.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, is also said to be working on a bill that would require local authorities to work more closely with the federal government on immigration enforcement. She is treading on dangerous ground: However reasonably her bill might be drawn, it will be debated and amended in a body dominated by Republicans who are bent on using the Steinle tragedy to fraudulently amplify the immigrant threat.

This week, in hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee and House immigration subcommittee, the hard-liners made that very clear.

Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina mused about the need to find and swiftly rid the country of criminal “aliens”: “How are we going to identify that universe, however small it may be?” he said, adding, “What is our plan to identify that universe before they reoffend?”

Representative Steve King of Iowa likened crimes by unauthorized immigrants to the 9/11 attacks, “a tragedy that causes my hard heart to cry.”

Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said “someone in this administration probably should be arrested for negligent homicide.”

Language like that is hard to distinguish from the rantings of Donald Trump, who brought his racist road show to Laredo, Tex., on Thursday. But there is room — even in immigration — for sane, sound policy. Immigration officials need to find ways to avoid the bureaucratic mishandling of felons in their custody, while protecting civil liberties. Cities and states should not be penalized for refusing to take on the expense and public-safety consequences of turning their officers into enforcers of civil immigration law. Congress should support the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to focus its limited resources on dangerous criminals and national security threats. It should allow the vast majority of immigrants, who pose no threat, to pass background checks, pay fines and back taxes and live and work in this country openly.

That would be a serious solution, one that gives deserving immigrants a foothold in this country and makes it easier to uncover those who come here to do harm. It is called comprehensive reform, which Mr. Smith, Mr. Gowdy and others in their anti-immigrant caucus, now consumed with exploitive fury over the San Francisco tragedy, have fought at every turn.

Washington PostHow Univision and Telemundo covered Donald Trump’s visit to the border
By Ed O’Keefe
July 23, 2015

Donald Trump’s visit to the U.S.-Mexico border dominated the airwaves on Thursday — in English and Spanish.

While the national newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC covered Trump’s visit to Laredo, Tex., coverage of the GOP presidential candidate dominated the national news broadcasts on Univision and Telemundo. Republicans fearful of how Trump is hurting the party’s image with the nation’s fast-growing Latino voting population need only play back Thursday night’s broadcasts as proof.

Univision devoted six minutes of coverage to Trump’s visit, while Telemundo gave him a total of nine minutes. No other Republican or Democratic presidential candidate was mentioned on either program.

“The magnate said that the United States needs a wall that divides it from Mexico,” co-anchor Jorge Ramos told viewers at the top of his “Noticiero Univision,” the more popular of the two newscasts.

Jose Diaz-Balart, the co-anchor of “Noticiero Telemundo,” anchored his newscast live from Laredo and told viewers that “Trump declared to the press that he’s certain of the Latino vote and insisted that he hasn’t insulted anyone.”

The anchors and correspondents spoke in Spanish. Trump’s remarks in English were translated into Spanish.

Ramos and Diaz-Balart enjoy outsized influence with Latino viewers of nightly newscasts. Their broadcasts air at the same time as the programs on ABC, CBS and NBC and usually win the ratings race in the largest Hispanic markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Dallas and Houston.

On Thursday night, both networks noted that Trump aggressively batted away questions regarding his comments about illegal immigrants from Mexico.

During one of the two news conferences Trump held in Texas, Diaz-Balart reminded the candidate that 53,000 Hispanics turn 18 each month and that many are offended by his suggestion that Mexicans crossing the border are rapists or criminals.

“No, no, no, we’re talking about illegal immigration and everybody understands that. And you know what? That’s a typical case — wait — that’s a typical case of the press with misinterpretation,” Trump shot back in response. “They take a half a sentence — by the way — they take a half a sentence, then they take a quarter of a sentence. It’s a typical thing. And you’re with Telemundo and Telemundo should be ashamed. And I tell you what — what’s really going to be fun? I’m suing Univision for $500 million and I’m gonna tell ya — we’re going to win a lot of money because of what they’ve done.”

“You’re finished,” Trump told Diaz-Balart.

“He never allowed me to finish asking my question,” Diaz-Balart told his viewers.

Notably, neither network included Trump’s reminder to supporters that he’s suing Univision. The network dropped plans to air the Miss Universe pageant — one of Trump’s dozens of business interests — because of his comments about illegal immigrants. In response, Trump has said he will sue the network for breach of contract.

Univision’s first story also mentioned that the local union for U.S. Border Patrol agents changed course and backed out of an appearance with Trump.

“They invited me and then all of a sudden ‘silencio,’ they want silence,” Trump was seen saying in response.

Both newscasts included comments from a small group of protesters who picketed Trump’s visit, many of whom wore stickers supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Ramos asked follow-up questions about security measures taken to avoid violence. The on-scene correspondent noted that local police handled the situation well, and didn’t act aggressively.

“Trump brought his private security that was with him when he landed until he left this city,” the correspondent said.

In its second story, Telemundo correspondent Cristina Londono noted that all day, Laredo was full of “controversy, thanks to Donald Trump.”

“Trump insisted that he has the Latino vote locked up,” she said.

“He said that he’s going to give jobs to all of the Latinos,” Londono added later. “But the majority of people I saw here are opposed to him. This afternoon, they’re celebrating — because he’s left.”

Telemundo also spoke with two lawmakers representing border districts — Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who noted that Laredo is a safer city per capita than Washington and New York and that the region’s economy is doing well — but could be doing better — because of backups at legal border routes.

In Univision’s second story, the network reported that Trump has refused to consider mounting a third-party, or independent presidential bid.

“I want to run as a Republican, and I think I will win the nomination,” Trump was shown saying.

The correspondent noted that Democrats and Republicans dismiss third parties as “a dirty phrase.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told Univision that “Donald Trump would be a threat if he ran as an independent, I hope he doesn’t do it.”

Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), told the network that no third-party candidate has ever won the presidency.

Later in the newscasts, Telemundo also spoke with illegal immigrants living in California who are trying to provide for families back in Mexico and responded negatively to Trump. Univision also told the story of a Guatemalan immigrant living in Brooklyn, who was attacked and severely injured on Sunday by two white men who have yet to be found. In an interview, the man suggested that his attackers might have been inspired by Trump’s comments about illegal immigrants.

After Trump, both newscasts moved on to continuing coverage of the escape of “El Chapo,” Joaquin Guzman, the drug cartel leader who recently escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison.

New Republic (Opinion): Why Donald Trump Truly Terrifies Republicans
By Brian Beutler
July 23, 2015

For almost three years now, Republican strategic thought has been roughly divided between two schools. One, represented by Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser extent Rand Paul, accepts the notion that the party must improve its performance with minority voters, without sacrificing its command of the white vote, in order to remain competitive in presidential elections. The other, represented by Ted Cruz and Scott Walker, rejects this premise.

These Republicans hew to the theory, expressed numerically by RealClearPolitics analyst Sean Trende, that making inroads with minorities is not important. The key to winning, they believe, lies with activating a large block of the white electorate that has stood on the sidelines, but would find a natural home in a Republican party if it were led by someone who could channel the political mood of the white working class.

Donald Trump is currently performing the hugely important political task of adjudicating this intra-GOP debate. Running as a Republican, Trump has made both factions’ goals—and the overarching goal of winning the presidency—more elusive. But by stitching together all the performative qualities Republicans have nurtured on the right over the years—pomp and property worship, xenophobia and anti-establishmentarianism—he’s also showing us what it takes to stir the passions of these missing white voters. Most Republicans, quite sensibly, are horrified by what they see.

In years past, Republicans didn’t think of Trumpism as a liability so long as Trump was outside the tent pissing further out. When Trump was busily whipping up reactionary sentiment, indulging birther conspiracies, Republicans didn’t see a “jackass”—they saw an opportunity. They recognized his appeal to a segment of white voters, and concluded it could be put to good use, so long as he marshaled his followers into the Republican electorate. They didn’t call him a media creation back then—they sought his endorsement.

Trump is now inside the tent, pissing everywhere. He threatens to neutralize the potential of these voters, or train them as a weapon against their own natural party, while bulldozing inroads to minorities. By placing xenophobic immigration politics at the center of the campaign, he’s made it practically impossible for Republicans to convince minorities that there’s a softer side of the GOP. And by condemning him so vocally, his Republican critics are reminding Trump’s supporters of everything they don’t like about the Republican party.

A nationwide Washington Post/ABC poll shows Hillary Clinton running ahead of Jeb Bush in a head-to-head matchup by a healthy but malleable 50-44 percent margin—the kind of margin that might close in a world where Bush manages to both increase the GOP’s share of the Latino vote and bring more members of the white working class along for the ride. But Trump’s primary candidacy is poisoning the GOP’s relationship with both sets of voters.

Republicans are therefore casting about for ways to extirpate the Trump phenomenon. Ideally a serious scandal or the financial consequences of his impolitic outbursts would end his candidacy, and quickly.

But party officials have refused to ask him to leave the race, let alone force him out. To mistreat Trump is to invite him to launch a third-party candidacy, and if he were to run as an independent, as he routinely threatens, the GOP’s narrow path to the presidency would close completely.

That same Washington Post/ABC poll also poses a three-way race between Clinton, Bush, and Trump. In that scenario, Clinton’s vote share drops by only three percent. Bush’s drops by 15. Altogether, Clinton winds up with 47, Bush with 29, and Trump with 19. The Bush and Trump shares combined are larger than Clinton’s, which lends credence to the missing white voter theory. The problem is there’s no way to encapsulate their individual appeals in a single candidacy.

Any Republican running against Clinton and Trump would have to choose between doubling back and fighting Trump for his share of the white vote, or jettisoning the Republican platform and competing with Clinton for Democratic votes. Which is another way of saying the GOP’s only option would be to lose. Even at two or three percent, Trump’s impact on the Republican candidate would be fatal.

If Trump were truly the media’s creation, as nervous Republicans like to claim he is, his candidacy would be a fleeting nuisance to more viable Republicans, and if he drops out early, the damage he’s doing might reverse itself. But Republicans can’t plausibly claim that what’s happening is a purely media-enabled stunt. They’ve recognized Trump’s draw on certain white voters in the past. They’ve tried to capitalize on it. He’s just showing them what it takes to do it for themselves.