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Donald Trump Expressing “Moral Vision Once Confined To The Fevered Fringe”

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New Yorker Article Captures Trump’s Popularity with White Nationalists; GOP Brand Image Tarnished to Latino and Other General Election Voters

 Donald Trump has long-since moved from a sideshow that shouldn’t be taken seriously into something much more ugly and corrosive to the country, our politics, and the Republican Party’s future.

In a deeply reported piece in this week’s issue of The New Yorker, Evan Osnos explores how the white nationalist and anti-immigrant movements view Donald Trump as a “standard-bearer,” capable of delivering “the appearance of legitimacy to a moral vision once confined to the fevered fringe.”  Writes Osnos:

“Ever since the Tea Party’s peak, in 2010, and its fade, citizens on the American far right—Patriot militias, border vigilantes, white supremacists—have searched for a standard-bearer, and now they’d found him…

… Ordinarily, the white-nationalist Web sites mock Republicans as Zionist stooges and corporate puppets who have opened the borders in order to keep wages low.  But, on July 9th, VDARE, an opinion site founded to ‘push back the plans of pro-Amnesty/Immigration Surge politicians, ethnic activists and corrupt Big Business,’ hailed Trump as ‘the first figure with the financial, cultural, and economic resources to openly defy elite consensus.  If he can mobilize Republicans behind him and make a credible run for the Presidency, he can create a whole new media environment for patriots to openly speak their mind without fear of losing their jobs.’  The piece was headlined ‘WE ARE ALL DONALD TRUMP NOW.’

…When Trump leaped to the head of the Republican field, he delivered the appearance of legitimacy to a moral vision once confined to the fevered fringe, elevating fantasies from the message boards and campgrounds to the center stage of American life.  In doing so, he pulled America into a current that is coursing through other Western democracies—Britain, France, Spain, Greece, Scandinavia—where xenophobic, nationalist parties have emerged since the 2008 economic crisis to besiege middle-ground politicians.  In country after country, voters beset by inequality and scarcity have reached past the sober promises of the center-left and the center-right to the spectre of a transcendent solution, no matter how cruel.  ‘The more complicated the problem, the simpler the demands become,’ Samuel Popkin, a political scientist at the University of California in San Diego, told me. ‘When people get frustrated and irritated, they want to cut the Gordian knot.’

Trump has succeeded in unleashing an old gene in American politics—the crude tribalism that Richard Hofstadter named ‘the paranoid style’—and, over the summer, it replicated like a runaway mutation.

…Trump’s candidacy has already left a durable mark, expanding the discourse of hate such that, in the midst of his feuds and provocations, we barely even registered that Senator Ted Cruz had called the sitting President ‘the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,’ or that Senator Marco Rubio had redoubled his opposition to abortion in cases of rape, incest, or a mortal threat to the mother.  Trump has bequeathed a concoction of celebrity, wealth, and alienation that is more potent than any we’ve seen before.  If, as the Republican establishment hopes, the stargazers eventually defect, Trump will be left with the hardest core—the portion of the electorate that is drifting deeper into unreality, with no reconciliation in sight.”

As a result, it’s little wonder that what animates the nativist rightwing threatens to drive away millions of Latino and other mainstream, general election voters.  In an interview with CNN, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos called Trump’s immigration policy stances “absurd” and reminded viewers why immigration, and Trump “spreading hate” on the issue, is such a defining concern for millions of Latino voters:

“This is not politics for us, this is personal.  When he’s talking about immigrants, he’s talking about me.  He’s talking about the half of the Latino population in this country who is 18 years or older that was born in another country…it is having an immediate political impact…it is impossible for him to win the White House without the Hispanic vote.”

New Gallup polling of U.S. Latinos gauges how Latinos view the 2016 presidential contenders and underscores the point made by Ramos.  Gallup finds that Trump has a whopping negative 51-point favorability with Latinos, with only 14% of Latinos viewing Trump favorably and 65% viewing him unfavorably.  Meanwhile, Latinos view Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly favorably, with Clinton receiving a 40-point positive favorability (58% of Latinos view her favorably, 18% unfavorably).

In a new column in The Atlantic, titled “Can the Republican Party Survive Trump?” Molly Ball captures the fact that while Trump most acutely harms the GOP with Latino voters, the damage also extends to other parts of the electorate:

“The harsh immigration rhetoric doesn’t only offend Latino voters, they say—it hurts the party with other minority groups, with moderates and independents, with young voters and with women.  And as other candidates have been pushed to take sides on Trump’s plans, they, too, have wandered into problematic territory.  Several have said they agree with parts of his immigration agenda.”

“The Trump Effect is having a negative impact on the rest of the Republican field, as they agree with him on explosive issues such as denying citizenship to babies born in America. It will also have a negative impact on the Party writ large, when it’s time to face the broader electorate after spending months and months demonizing Latinos, Asians, immigrants, and the people who care about them,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice.  “That’s a bigger group of the electorate than the restrictionist hard right.”