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On Immigration, Don’t Let Trump Distract From The Anti-Immigrant Policies of The Rest of the Field
Last night’s Republican debate made clear—all sights are trained on Donald Trump. As Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz’s performances show, both candidates are trying to claw their way into whatever anti-Trump space there may be left. This all comes as new Washington Post/Univision numbers show abysmal support among Latinos for Trump (80% have unfavorable opinion of Trump) that could spell trouble for the party as a whole in the general election. While the media narrative has portrayed both candidates as viable alternatives to Trump, as Catherine Rampell points out in a new piece in the Washington Post, on key issues and immigration in particular, the three aren’t all that different.
While conventional wisdom has coalesced around the idea that it’s up to Marco Rubio to save the Republican party from Trump, the reality is that Marco Rubio has tacked far-right just like his opponents. On immigration, this shift is no better embodied than last night when Rubio, once considered the GOP’s last great hope for a candidate who might have helped the party embrace the changing face of America, reiterated his recent promise to end DACA, a program protecting some 700,000 young immigrants from deportation, on day one of his presidency.
As Rampell notes, what distinguishes Trump from the others now is not substance, but salesmanship—he may be more overt is his appeals to racism and xenophobia, but when it comes down to policies that jeopardize Latino and immigrant voters, it’s not just Trump, but the entire Republican field that’s to blame.
Rampell’s full piece is available online here and is excerpted below.
I’m not convinced, though, that Trump is so far out on the fringe, especially if you use these also-runners as your reference points. Consider the positions of the three top contenders on a few high-profile issues.
On immigration, Trump wants to build a wall and round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.
You say potato, I say po-tah-to.
On policy matters, there just ain’t much daylight between Trump and the supposed mainstream alternatives. They’re all pretty far to the right.
You could argue that the others have shifted their original positions rightward to pitch-match Trump’s belches of outrageousness. (Cruz only recently endorsed mass deportation, for example.) But regardless of where on the ideological spectrum the candidates started, the fact remains that today the three of them are largely indistinguishable from one another on most major policy stances.
What differentiates Trump from the others is not substance, but salesmanship.
That includes more entertaining oratory and online insults; better campaign swag; and more overt appeals to racism and xenophobia. (He makes dog whistles audible to humans.) Trump may be less civil than the others, but in the age of reality TV, incivility sells.
If the Republican establishment doesn’t want to line up behind Trump, perhaps it’s not because he’s thwarting their most cherished principles or committing some ideological heresy. Maybe he’s just too good at hogging the limelight.