It Started a Year Ago When Trump Descended That Escalator
In the aftermath of the worst mass-shooting in American history, Donald Trump has, once again, proved himself dangerously unfit to lead. That he would use the worst mass-shooting in American history – an anti-LGBT hate crime in a supposedly safe space for the community – to sow further division and fear in our nation should be disqualifying for the presidency.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “America is a permanently evolving country powered by a “can-do” optimism. But ever since he descended by escalator a year ago, Trump has been peddling a dark vision of an America in decline. In doing so, he has done his best to drag our democratic norms, political institutions, and American values down with him. Beyond his noxious policy ideas, Trump is seeking to redefine the conception of what a “true” American is and proposing a sharp break from our nation’s core and cherished principles. Bigotry. Racism. Fear. Trump has come to embody everything America does not want to be. Will we follow Trump’s vision of a scared and paranoid America cleaved along racial and religious lines? Or fight for a multi-ethnic America that values diversity and equal opportunity? Since much of the Republican Party has decided to embrace Trump, it is up to the rest of us to win what has become a battle for the soul of our nation.”
The condemnation of Trump’s post-Orlando comments and speech has been widespread. The consensus assessment of many leaders observers, excerpted below, is that Trump’s speech reaffirms that he is a man fundamentally unsuited for the presidency. Among the key voices speaking out against Trump and his vision for America include:
Washington Post editorial, “Donald Trump’s Assault on Our Values”:
“It had not seemed possible, but Donald Trump descended this week to a new low of bigotry, fear-mongering and conspiracy-peddling. Republican leaders who said last week that they expected a change in tone after Mr. Trump’s racist attacks on a California judge quickly received their answer. What can House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) possibly say now? As the country mourned the wanton slaughter of 49 people early Sunday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee took a victory lap, hinted darkly that President Obama is an enemy of the nation, libeled American Muslims and, in grotesque punctuation, finished up with a vindictive attack on the media … Before the Orlando shooting, Beltway analysts speculated about how a terrorist attack might affect the presidential election. Now we know at least part of the answer: Mr. Trump would reveal himself more clearly than ever as a man unfit to lead.”
Bloomberg opinion column by Frank Wilkinson, “Trump Is Not a Loose Cannon”:
“The presumptive Republican nominee moves from offense to offense so rapidly that a new shock eclipses the first before it can be mentally processed. Tweets and oral speech are Trump’s natural media. Many Republicans are still seeking rationales to help them overlook the threat carried by these casual messages. They hope that Trump will somehow prove more responsible, and less toxic, if he has a political party or a White House staff or some other mediating institution to constrain his worst impulses. But Trump’s worst impulses are his truest. His campaign Sunday issued an official statement — written and vetted — on the Orlando attack. It confirms what his apologists are desperate to ignore: that Trump operates with malice aforethought … These are not the thoughtless, off-the-cuff remarks of a blowhard. They are written and vetted by his staff. So if you want to know what Trump will do, don’t go looking for expressions of responsibility or contrition or vague hints that he might prove willing to be constrained by democratic political norms. Trump has published his road map. It goes to a destination many will find familiar.
We are under existential threat. Our leaders have betrayed us. Everyone is laughing at us. With my superior wisdom and unbending will, I’ll resolve the Islamic question and save the nation.
There is no ambiguity about this campaign.”
Vox analysis by Dara Lind, “Donald Trump’s Idea of What “American” Means Is Itself Un-American”:
“Trump has called repeatedly to ban Muslim immigration to the United States. As his policy speech Monday in response to the Orlando shooting made clear, he sees the ban as his cardinal foreign policy proposal. But he’s not being honest about it. Donald Trump has shown, time and time again, that he doesn’t believe the descendants of immigrants — whether they come from the Muslim world or from Mexico — are necessarily Americans. At best, he needs them to prove their loyalty. At worst, he sees non-European immigrant heritage and Americanness as a zero-sum identity game — someone with the former can never truly claim the other. For more than 200 years, ‘American’ has been about something more than blood and surname. By accusing second-generation Americans of being un-American, Donald Trump, the son of an immigrant mother, might be one of them himself.
…We’ve seen this distinction before. Gonzalo Curiel is a federal judge. Before being appointed to the federal bench, he was a distinguished prosecutor. Curiel is a second-generation American. He was born in Indiana; his parents were born in Mexico. Shortly before the Orlando attack, Donald Trump spent more than a week saying that Curiel couldn’t be objective toward Trump in a class-action suit because Trump wanted to build a wall with Mexico — implying, in a not-even-veiled way, that Curiel would put Mexico’s interests in front of America’s. Trump and his supporters pointed to Curiel’s membership in a Latino lawyers association, calling it a ‘radical’ Latino organization. So Curiel, too, in his way, was accused of being a member of the radicalized second generation.
…The equality of all citizens is the cornerstone of American law. It is certainly the cornerstone of American immigration policy …This is fundamental to how Americans understand their country. Most Americans (certainly most white Americans) believe in the idea of their country as a “nation of immigrants”: the place where generations of people came from other countries to build a better life for themselves and their families, where the heritages of the ‘old country’ were quietly subsumed by a broader American identity. America is where you go to become an American; if you want to become an American, the doors are (in theory) open to you. Because the debate over immigration to the US (prior to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump) focused on unauthorized immigrants, it’s often been characterized as a debate over the ‘rule of law.’ (As a matter of fact, one of the most common lines heard among opponents of legalizing unauthorized immigrants is, ‘My ancestors came here the right way’ — an acknowledgment that someone can become American from immigrant stock.) Trump has blown the cover off that, by impugning the Americanness of legal immigrants and American citizens just as much as he’s attacked unauthorized ones.”
MNSBC analysis by Steve Benen, “After Orlando Massacre, Trump Faces Leadership Test – and Flunks”:
“Yesterday offered Trump an opportunity of sorts. With the nation stunned by such senseless brutality, the Republican candidate, who speaks frequently about his ability to bring people together, could have taken the high ground and responded to the bloodshed with dignity and empathy. This was Trump’s chance to show that he can dial down the clownish antics, recognize the anguish Americans were feeling, and show that deep down, beneath the television personality, there’s still some honor and decency. Instead, Trump did the opposite. He just couldn’t help himself.
If the slayings in Orlando were a leadership test for would-be presidents, Donald Trump failed spectacularly.”
New York Times editorial, “What Donald Trump Gets Wrong About Orlando”:
“All mass shootings convulse the nation, but this one falls in the middle of one of the nastiest, most divisive presidential campaigns in memory. And if there is anyone who might try to turn one of the worst atrocities in modern American history to his own warped ends, who could draw all the wrong lessons from the horror of what happened in Orlando, it is Donald Trump. One can take the measure of a leader from his or her response to national trauma. So what did Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, do first? He congratulated himself, on Twitter, for having predicted such an assault and called for President Obama to resign. On Monday, he said, cryptically, ‘Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or he’s got something else in mind.’
In a speech Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump doubled down on his outrageous call to bar all Muslims from entering the country. ‘When I’m elected I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States,’ he said. ‘We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer.’ Aside from being offensive and un-American, this would do nothing to stop people like the shooter in this case, Omar Mateen, an American citizen born in New York and living in Florida. (To evade this inconvenient fact, Mr. Trump said in his speech on Monday that Mr. Mateen was born in Afghanistan — or ‘Afghan,’ as he put it.)”