No Courage Shown by GOP Field*
A major reason why Jorge Ramos’s back and forth with Donald Trump mattered was because he stood up to the bully and didn’t back down.
As Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, noted yesterday, Donald Trump doesn’t just have a hard-edged immigration stance. He is calling for the mass deportation of 25% of the nation’s Latino population. He is calling for the roundup of 11.3 million undocumented immigrants and 4.5 million of their U.S. born children. He is calling for the rollback of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship, one of our nation’s greatest victories in the quest for equality for all Americans. As the recent hate crime in Boston and the emergence of white nationalist and neo-Nazi support for Trump shows, he is fostering a climate that demonizes and dehumanizes 55 million Latinos because of the way they look or speak, even if their families have been here for centuries.
In the face of this ugly nativism and in contrast to Ramos, we’ve seen more cowardice than leadership from the Republican Party and its leading candidates with respect to Trump. The Republican field has been largely silent in the face of the Trump Effect, couching any objections in careful doublespeak and even moving right on immigration, seemingly pulled by the Trump-generated undertow (*Lindsey Graham excepted). When finally weighing in to criticize Trump, as Jeb Bush did yesterday, the objections are modest, policy-based and cost/benefit, rather than a forceful denouncement of Trump’s embrace of nativism.
This kowtowing and tiptoeing around Trump comes on the heels of a Congress in which Republican leaders such as John Boehner bowed to anti-immigrant forces and refused to pass a popular immigration reform package. We understand there’s an ongoing debate about whether Trump’s rise will harm the GOP among Latino voters next election. For us, it’s not even close. The rise of Trump and the failure of Republican leaders to sufficiently denounce both his immigration stance and his corrosive worldview threatens the GOP’s hopes at making new electoral inroads and its overall chances in 2016.
See the following new assessments, excerpted below, for additional evidence:
“The damage radiating outwards from the epic slow-motion disaster otherwise known as Donald Trump is only just beginning. Or at least Democrats hope this will prove to be the case — and they are now taking new and active steps to make that happen.
“If you want to get a sense of how Democrats hope to use the rise of Donald Trump to damage the GOP among Latinos — a project that will probably continue for many months, deep into 2016 — take a look at this new ad from the Hillary Clinton-allied Super PAC Priorities USA (link):
“…We really don’t know if Trump-ism — which consists not just of Trump’s vile rhetoric, but also the apparent need his GOP rivals feel to gravitate towards the Trump Death Star — will end up significantly damaging the GOP among Latinos. Recent Gallup polling suggested that other candidates are escaping his taint — for now.
“But Dems apparently think they’ve been handed an opportunity to change this, and it looks like they’re leaning harder into exploiting it. We’ll see if they keep it up.”
“Every sulfurous belch from the molten interior of the volcanic Trump phenomenon injures the chances of a Republican presidency. After Donald Trump finishes plastering a snarling face on conservatism, any Republican nominee will face a dauntingly steep climb to reach even the paltry numbers that doomed Mitt Romney…
“…If the Republicans’ 2016 nominee does not do better than Romney did among nonwhite voters, he will need 65 percent of the white vote, which was last achieved by Ronald Reagan when carrying 49 states in 1984. Romney did even slightly worse among Asian Americans — the fastest-growing minority — than among Hispanics. Evidently, minorities generally detected Republican ambivalence, even animus, about them. This was before Trump began receiving rapturous receptions because he obliterates inhibitions about venting hostility.”
“…the character of the candidates already has been revealed. Trump is acting like a sexist and a bigot — and the rest of the candidates are, with occasional exceptions, too timid to call him what he is.
“Over the weekend, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus even praised the contribution made by Trump’s candidacy. ‘I think it’s a net positive for everybody,’ he said in a radio interview.
“A net positive? That’s an intriguing calculation, considering all the gross negatives…
“…The way to combat Trump’s bigotry and misogyny is to denounce it as loudly as he spews it.”
“…it’s time to stop giving Trump a free ride. Groups committed to the policy positions Trump trashes should speak up, or see causes to which they are devoted go down the drain.”
“Trump is the revenge of the party’s non-insiders who are tired of being used.
“But there’s a major problem with all of the Trump coverage: It’s based on the assumption that he is leading a formidable mass movement when his following is nothing of the sort. The Trump partisans are, in fact, a very small minority of Americans. Do the math. The polls show that Trump is supported by about 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who, together, account for somewhere between 40 percent and 45 percent of the country.
“So, generously, the Trump insurrection is built on the backing of all of about 11 percent of Americans.”
And National Journal columnist Ron Brownstein captures the impending danger to the Republican Party’s 2016 chances in a piece titled, “Trump Preaching to Shrinking White Electorate Creates Problems for GOP”:
“Perceptive conservative essayist Ben Domenech recently warned that Trump is leading the GOP ‘toward a coalition that is reduced to the narrow interests of identity politics for white people.’
“Yet on immigration and other issues, the GOP has already conceded much to the angry and often economically squeezed voters demanding exactly such a politics. Pacifying them won’t be easy now that Trump is promising even greater exertions (mass deportation, ending birthright citizenship) against the ethnic diversity recasting America.
In practice, no policy agenda can stop that demographic transformation. But Republican leaders may prove equally ineffectual at containing the white racial anxieties swelling Trump’s support.”