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Four years ago, soon after Donald Trump kicked off his presidential candidacy by slandering Mexicans as “rapists,” America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry said of Trump:
He is challenging the American people, and the Republican Party specifically, by putting down the dog whistle and picking up the bullhorn … We’re talking about a frontrunner throwing a match on the racialized fumes of modern-day nativism. Let’s not kid ourselves. This rhetoric and radicalism is something new, something dangerous, something that deserves to be aggressively countered by people who believe in an America that is permanently evolving in order to become a more perfect union.
Since that day, Trump has expanded the focus of his racist and xenophobic attacks – from the “both sides” equivalency regarding neo-nazis and violence in Charlottesville; to the “shithole countries” referring to African, Caribbean and Latin nations; to his “go back where you come from” attacks on four women of color who are duly elected members of Congress; to his most recent racist vitriol against Rep. Elijah Cummings and the city of Baltimore. It’s not just ugly rhetoric; it’s ugly policies. Trump has embraced and advanced a dizzying collection of cruel policies pulled from the fringes of the anti-immigrant and nativist movements.
In the face of these vile and escalating racist attacks over the past four years and over the past four days, Republican Party candidates and elected officials have remained silent, complicit, or even worse: defenders of Trump.
All agree that racial incitement and xenophobia will be the animating force of Trump’s 2020 re-election. Many pundits seem to believe the Trump spin that this is savvy, strategic politics (read our take here on why that’s overblown and unproven and read a new assessment from Greg Sargent of the Washington Post on why it’s better seen as a sign of Trump’s weakness, not strength).
But separate from the political implications and efficacy of Trump’s attacks, is the still-jaw-dropping realization that the President of the United States of America is attacking American citizens, American cities, and American elected officials … and doing so through overt racism.
And meanwhile, the Republican Party remains willing enablers, complicit defenders, and co-conspirators of Trump’s vile ugliness.
According to Sharry, “Four years ago, Republicans didn’t lock arms to stop Trump’s racism and xenophobia when they had a chance to stop Trump’s rise. Now, they have embraced it or submitted to it. As a result, the GOP has permanently lashed themselves to the mast of Trump’s racist presidency. The current Republican Party – the so-called Party of Lincoln – is now indistinguishable from Trump and Trumpism. When historians look back, the inevitable conclusion will be that at this critical moment of truth, Republicans not only refuse to stand up to it, they are it.”