Growing Conservative Anti-Trump Movement Welcome, But Should Have Started Nine Months Ago
The growing conservative movement to oppose Donald Trump begs the question: with the exception of a few brave conservatives, where have most of these opponents been for the past nine months of Trump’s openly nativist candidacy?
Just in the past few days, Trump has refused to disavow the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke; retweeted a quote from fascist leader Benito Mussolini; trumpeted the endorsements of rabidly anti-immigrant lawmakers Jan Brewer and Jeff Sessions; garnered the support one of Europe’s most prominent anti-immigrant and xenophobes,Jean-Marie Le Pen; and noted his desire to punch a protester in the face. Yet these newest incidents simply do not reflect a tipping point of Trump moving into unacceptable territory or finally going too far – it’s been the case all along.
Michael Strain of the conservative American Enterprise Institute writes in The Washington Post today that, “In the beginning, it was very entertaining … the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump was funny … it isn’t funny anymore.” Sorry, Mr. Strain. It wasn’t funny when Trump came down the escalator and used his campaign announcement speech to label Mexican immigrants as rapists. And with his daily offenses, it has been crystal clear since the Trump announcement that he is intentionally running an avowedly racist and divisive campaign without parallel in recent American history.
In early December, Dana Milbank wrote in a Washington Post column, “Donald Trump is a Bigot and a Racist:”
“Let’s not mince words: Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist. Some will think this an outrageous label to apply to the frontrunner for a major party’s presidential nomination. Ordinarily, I would agree that name-calling is part of what’s wrong with our politics. But there is a greater imperative not to be silent in the face of demagoguery.”
Milbank went on to highlight just a partial rundown of the disturbing parts of Trump’s candidacy, writing that, as of December:
“Trump led the ‘birther’ movement challenging President Obama’s standing as a natural-born American; used various vulgar expressions to refer to women; spoke of Mexico sending rapists and other criminals across the border; called for rounding up and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants; had high-profile spats with prominent Latino journalists and news outlets; mocked Asian accents; let stand a charge made in his presence that Obama is a Muslim and that Muslims are a ‘problem’ in America; embraced the notion of forcing Muslims to register in a database; falsely claimed thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey; tweeted bogus statistics asserting that most killings of whites are done by blacks; approved of the roughing up of a black demonstrator at one of his events; and publicly mocked the movements of New York Times (and former Washington Post) journalist Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition limiting mobility … Though all Trump supporters surely aren’t racists or bigots, even a cursory examination of social media reveals that many are.”
America’s Voice has been warning against Trump and his mainstreaming of hate since he announced his candidacy. Frank Sharry sounded the alarm last June, soon after Trump entered the race:
“The lowest possible bar for the Republican Party to clear should be standing up to bigotry and sticking up for the Latino community by denouncing the abjectly racist remarks from Donald Trump. Unfortunately, the GOP’s silence and, in Ted Cruz’s case, defense of Trump, is a disturbing indication that they just don’t get it. Republicans are failing in spectacular fashion to meet a very basic threshold of dignity and respect.”
Throughout last summer and fall, we noted that the emergence of white nationalist and neo-Nazi support for Trump showed that “he is fostering a climate that demonizes and dehumanizes 55 million Latinos because of the way they look or speak, even if their families have been here for centuries.” We warned against the fact that the Trump’s campaign was bleeding into civil society to dangerous effect, introducing the “Trump Hate Map” (a comprehensive look at the locations and events where Latinos and immigrants have been harassed or attacked by Trump or his supporters. Available and updated here). And we assessed that that the “The Trump Effect” threatened to destroy the party’s evident need to broaden its demographic appeal in the 2016 general election and beyond.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Donald Trump has been unacceptable all along. We welcome anyone to oppose Trump’s dangerous blend of nativism, demagoguery, and authoritarianism. But let’s not engage in revisionist history about the type of campaign Trump has been openly running since last June, nor let those who have refused to denounce him escape a certain degree of culpability for Trump’s rise. No one should stand by idly and watch as Trump attempts to mainstream noxious ideas formerly restricted to the fringes of the white nationalist and anti-immigrant movements. Let’s hope it isn’t too late for us all to stop Trump and stand up for a better vision of America.”