Pieces from Dara Lind and Brian Beutler Unveil the Ugly Truth of Today’s GOP
Day one of the Republican Convention may have been overtaken by Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, but most of Monday’s program featured raw expressions of anger, racism and xenophobia. The theme seemed to be “they” (read: black, brown and Muslim people) are a danger to “us” (read: white people).
New pieces from Brian Beutler and Dara Lind unveil how the Trump campaign has mainstreamed racism in an unprecedented way. As Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell prepare to speak at the convention today, the authors make clear that the responsibility for this dangerous shift doesn’t lie solely with Trump, but with the Republican party as a whole.
Key excerpts from Beutler and Lind’s analyses follow below.
Brian Beutler at the New Republic, “Trump Has Made America More Racist. Republicans Are OK With That.”:
In a news environment that’s saturated with fleeting outrages, false equivalences, and fluctuating poll numbers, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Republicans aren’t just ratifying a new set of policy ideas and crudities. Trump has already awakened and sanctioned a kind of latent social disorder among his supporters, many of whom harbored racist sentiments silently or privately, but who now feel emboldened to act upon their views in public: in classrooms; at cash registers, and kiosks around the country.
It is difficult, but not totally impossible, to quantify this Trump effect, but if you simply listen to the experiences of people in the communities Trump has vilified, his influence over minority experience in American life is easy to characterize. It is ugly and nefarious. And Republicans have decided to normalize it.
Sarah Ibrahim, the mother of a fourth-grade boy whose classmates told him his mother would be deported, explained to Reuters, “What Trump did was make these hidden thoughts public. He gave people permission to speak out loud, he removed the shame associated with being prejudiced. People know that they won’t be punished.”
These are the wages of the Republican Party’s decision to indulge Trump. And the doubly horrifying thing about it is that the GOP’s most influential officials have been candid the whole time about the threat he poses to American social cohesion.
… The convention in Cleveland is their way of saying they’ve seen the impact he’s having on the country, and despite their misgivings, it’s something they can live with.
Before Donald Trump’s movement was about anything else, it was about this: the fear that unauthorized immigrants would victimize — even kill — Americans.
That’s how he first went from a joke celebrity candidate to a man who could fill stadiums for campaign rallies. It’s how he won the Republican nomination. And it’s how he opened his Republican National Convention.
…Despite the months-long inter-pundit argument about whether, and to what extent, Trump supporters are motivated by “economic anxiety,” politicians have tried to power anti-immigration movements on economic anxiety before. It didn’t work. Trump powered his movement on anxiety about the immigrant threat.
…Trump has recently taken to calling himself the “law and order” candidate — deliberately using a phrase Richard Nixon used in 1968, when he too tapped into white Americans’ fears of cultural instability through racially coded language. By claiming the “law and order” mantle, though, Trump was just making the subtext text. The ability to tap into white Americans’ cultural anxieties about nonwhites destroying America is something he’s been doing, to great success, all along.
…Trump, at least by all appearances, has emboldened a kind of hate crimes of everyday life: immigrants and Latinos being taunted at school basketball games, or discriminated against at drugstore pharmacies.
And even though Trump has been much less interested in dogwhistling about African Americans than he has in dogwhistling about Latinos and Muslim Americans (who he says are all unassimilated at best and potential terrorists at worst), black voters know dogwhistling when they see it, and they’re well aware that the people Trump has activated don’t love black people either.
For more examples of the “Trump Effect” across the country, view America’s Voice’s “Trump Hate Map”, a comprehensive look at the locations and events where Latinos, immigrants, and other people of color have been harassed or attacked by Trump or his supporters.