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More Reminders About the Dangers of Donald Trump

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Washington, DC – Across the ideological spectrum, columnists and political observers are coming to the conclusion that Donald Trump is a radical demagogue, advancing noxious and dangerous ideas.  With Trump’s fellow Republican contenders either following the anti-immigrant course Trump has charted or too timid to sufficiently confront and denounce the candidate and his ideas, the Trump candidacy poses an existential threat to the Republican Party’s brand image and electoral prospects in 2016.  

See below for key excerpts from columns making similar assessments about the dangers of Donald Trump:

Bret Stephens writes in a Wall Street Journal column titled, “The Donald and the Demagogues”:

“When people become indifferent to the ideas of their would-be leaders, those leaders become prone to dangerous ideas.  Democracies that trade policy substance for personal charisma tend not to last as democracies.  They become Bolivarian republics.  Donald Trump may be America’s Hugo Chávez, minus the political consistency.

“…Still, Mr. Trump’s political star is rising in a period when fringe politics, both on the right and the left, are making a comeback in the West…

“…Republicans like to think of America as an exceptional nation.  And it is, not least in its distaste for demagogues.  Donald Trump’s candidacy puts the strength of that distaste to the test. “

The new syndicated column from Michael Gerson, titled, “Trump Declares War on America’s Demography”:

“The pertinent question is not: Can the Trump movement win? Rather: Can any political coalition that includes and accommodates the Trump movement win?

“Trump and his supporters on immigration hope to change the demographic playing field in future elections through restrictions — essentially trying to expand the Republican appeal in the white working class while limiting the total number of Hispanic voters.  But declaring war on demography is like declaring war on gravity — all your victories are temporary.  A populist, right-wing, anti-immigration party would eventually be voted into irrelevance.

“The alternative is for the GOP to accommodate demographic and cultural changes within the boundaries of a principled conservatism.  The goal would be to compete on America’s changing demographic playing field.  This would require crafting a working-class appeal that does not use Hispanic immigrants as foils and tries to win the support of 40 percent or more of Hispanic voters through ethnic outreach and innovative policy that addresses the needs and aspirations of new Americans.

“And the rise of Trump makes all of it more difficult.”

Eugene Robinson writes in a Washington Post column titled, “Republicans are Digging Themselves a Hole Over Immigration”:

“The catalyst for the current eruption of anti-foreigner bombast is, of course, Republican front-runner Donald Trump.  His rhetoric blaming undocumented Mexicans for a crime wave and insisting — without a shred of evidence — that the Mexican government is deliberately sending miscreants across the border has struck a nerve. What Trump says about immigration is nonsense and his proposed remedies are infeasible.  Yet GOP voters are eating it up.

“…as long as other candidates are competing to sound tougher-than-thou, as long as the conversation is about how high to build new walls and blame is ascribed to immigrants for not assimilating quickly enough, the GOP is digging itself a hole that will be hard to escape.

“In his last election, President Obama won 73 percent of the Asian American vote and 71 percent of the Hispanic vote.  If the message Republicans send to these groups sounds like ‘we don’t want any more of your kind,’ the Democratic nominee, whoever it is, will have a hard time losing.”

On his blog at New York magazine Jonathan Chait criticizes the Jeb Bush campaign’s tepid response to Trump’s Willie Horton-style attack ad.  Writes Chait:

“There are a few ways Bush could respond to this.  He could point out that Trump’s ad is viciously dishonest.  Bush was correctly saying that breaking immigration law is not a felony.  He was not denying that murder is a felony.  Better still, Bush could point out the sick undertones of conflating anybody who crossed the border illegally in order to give their children a better life — a choice many Americans would make had we not enjoyed the good fortune to be born here — with murderers.

“Instead Bush hits back at Trump by calling him … liberal:

‘While Donald Trump was still supporting liberal, soft-on-crime politicians, Jeb Bush accumulated an eight-year record of cracking down on violent criminals as governor of Florida. Mr. Trump’s immigration plan is not conservative, would violate the constitution and cost hundreds of billions of dollars, which he will likely attempt to pay for through massive tax hikes,’ said Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell in an email.

“So the only response to this kind of crude, dishonest nativism is to get to your opponent’s right?  Nice party you’ve got here, Republicans.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Donald Trump is a walking third rail for the Republican Party, yet many of his fellow Republicans seem intent to grab ahold with both hands or are flummoxed and flat-footed in determining their response.  Regardless of Trump’s party affiliation and standing in the polls, there should be no place in our society and our country for a bigoted bully who uses racism as a central component of his campaign strategy.” 

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

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