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The GOP Made Donald Trump

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Coddling Anti-Immigrant Extremists, The GOP Has Brought Trump Effect Upon Itself

By indulging, rather than standing up to, the anti-immigrant and nativist sentiments in its midst, the Republican Party has helped catalyze the rise of Donald Trump.  As we head into the first round of presidential primary debates, the Trump Effect threatens to divide the GOP – and potentially destroy the party’s demonstrated need to broaden its demographic appeal in the 2016 general election.

In recent days, a number of observers have picked up on this theme, highlighted that the Republican Party has largely brought this debacle upon itself by its explicit choices and failure to heed recent political history.  Among the key pieces:

Timothy Egan inNew York Times: GOP Has Nurtured its “Vulgar, Nativist Element”: In a New York Times column titled, “Trump is the Poison His Party Concocted,” Timothy Egan notes, “Trump is a byproduct of all the toxic elements Republicans have thrown into their brew over the last decade or so — from birtherism to race-based hatred of immigrants, from nihilists who shut down government to elected officials who shout ‘You lie!’ at their commander in chief.  It was fine when all this crossing-of-the-line was directed at President Obama or other Democrats.  But now that the ugliness is intramural, Trump has forced party leaders to decry something they have not only tolerated, but encouraged…The racism toward Mexicans that Trump has stirred up has been swooshing around the basement of the Republican Party for some time.  Representative Steve King of Iowa did Trump one better in 2013 when he said undocumented immigrants had ‘calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.’ Did this make King a pariah?  Not judging by the number of presidential candidates who showed up at his Iowa Freedom Summit in January, there to curry his favor…All of this overshadowed the entry into the race of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, a sensible conservative who could beat Hillary Clinton.  But he won’t get any traction until Republicans destroy Donald Trump and the vulgar, nativist element in their party that they nurtured — until it became a monster.” 

John Husak on the Brookings Blog, “Donald Trump, Brought to You by 20 Years of Republican Politics”: Husak, a fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings,writes: “the irony is that the party that is now looking for any way possible to cause Trump’s fall is the party wholly responsible for his rise……Trump’s behavior—and his traction in the Republican electorate—was not only foreseeable but tacitly endorsed if not actively encouraged by a transformation in the GOP.  And now, a man who has always behaved in an aggressive, non-politically correct, blunt and outrageous way has found his home in a party that has lamented a president who is weak, a culture that is too P.C., and a society that is more nanny state than self-reliant.  The combination is one that Republicans look at mouth agape and seemingly caught off guard.  Yet, one has to look back with equal shock at how the party never saw this coming……If the GOP doesn’t like Trump, the party should look inward at what choices and political dynamics have encouraged a wave of their voters to support Trump’s candidacy.  They shouldn’t blame Trump for being the same person he always has been.  Donald Trump hasn’t changed; it is the Republican Party that has.  It is a difficult time for the Republican Party as the candidate currently rising above the pack seems just as comfortable attacking fellow Republicans as he does President Obama or Hillary Clinton.  However, Trump won’t stay atop the polls forever, and he surely will not be president.  But until then, the GOP field—despite the presence of many qualified and competent candidates—looks like a circus, and Donald Trump is the ringleader who the party has inadvertently apprenticed.”

Joe Trippi inLos Angeles Times: GOP Following Wrong 1994 Model on Immigration: Pete Wilson Instead of George W. Bush:  Veteran Democratic strategist Joe Trippi writes in the Los Angeles Times about the parallels for the Republican Party between 1994 and today.  Trippi writes, “In 1994, two future GOP presidential hopefuls, Pete Wilson of California and George W. Bush of Texas, formed near-opposite relationships with the Latino community.  Their fates, and the fates of their state parties, should tell the national GOP everything it needs to know about how best to handle immigration…So the inclusive approach, derided by many conservatives today, led to dominance for the Republican Party in Texas.  And the exclusionary approach, which seems to please the base, led to its virtual extinction in California.  This election cycle, the national Republican Party must decide how it will address the very real problem of the 8.8 million Latin American immigrants in the U.S. illegally.  If the past is prologue, it should be an easy choice.”