Saturday, February 27, 2016
Ranting On...The Trump Dilemma
But I do wonder if Democrats should be playing more of a role right now in the Republican primaries. While Marco Rubio, at least according to pundits, did better in last Thursday's debates and appears extremely likely to emerge as Donald Trump's most formidable challenger going into Super Tuesday and beyond, Trump still stands tall in the Republican contests. He still is leading in nearly every major poll, and even when he's not he's formidable. The man who has spent the past year defying every single political precedent could not be in a better position to win the GOP nomination if he tried. As a result of this, the editorial boards of the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, two of the most decorated newspapers in the country, have called out Republican leaders and voters to stop Trump, whose hate-mongering has entered a territory unusual for a major political party's nominee. The Globe however also called out Democrats whom some might say are clamoring for Trump to best Rubio and Cruz, assuming that he will be easier for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders to beat in November.
My question here is-is this something that should fall upon Democrats? The reality is that most of the time, you're always hoping that the other party nominates someone that is easier to beat. Looking at Senate races like Delaware in 2010 and Missouri in 2012, I was elated that Christine O'Donnell and Todd Akin won the nominations, as it quite frankly made those seats easier to hold (and it's worth noting the Democrats did, despite polls showing other Republicans taking down Chris Coons and Claire McCaskill). The Democrats, of course, don't get to vote in the primaries, or at least they shouldn't, and it's not like they are going to be donating money to Mr. Trump and his campaign. However, I can definitely feel some palpable energy toward Trump from Democratic operatives and supporters on social media, so the Globe isn't wrong here to raise an eyebrow. Trump is good for business not just for the news media, but bringing him up instead of Rubio or Cruz is a great strategy-it means that the news organizations are more likely to publish your stories (love him or hate him, and I definitely am the latter, but the man has charisma and draw in a way no one in this race does), and you're linking the Republicans to a man that most don't want him to be associated with.
The question here, therefore, is whether this is wrong. In some ways, I agree with the Globe. Donald Trump poses a danger to America and in particular its issues with equality that are horrifying, and in many ways are different than certainly John Kasich, and in some ways Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Trump's views on women, immigrants, and in particular Muslim-Americans scares the tar out of me, and should scare the tar out of any supporter of the first amendment. While I think it's a little self-serving that the press only seemed to want to come after Trump when he was targeting them, it's worth noting that his views and his supporters' attitudes toward the media feel dangerous. His rallies have people leering and jeering at reporters, and the Republican debates at this point look less like professional forums and more like indoor riots. Trump is scary, and some of his views border on the fascist, and I think the newspapers, who are supposed to be nonpartisan but still urge civic action, are correct in calling out the Republicans and those who vote.
That being said, I am not putting this entirely on the footsteps of the Democrats, and part of that is because in many ways the media and politicians have created a culture now where it's all-or-nothing. You can see that in the way that Republicans are blocking a Supreme Court nominee that doesn't yet exist from President Obama, or the way that they have battered him relentlessly on everything from his birth certificate to bold-faced lies about his policies. I've watched as more traditional candidates like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and yes, John Kasich as well, have demonized immigrants, women, and the rights of voters. Mitch McConnell talks about how he wants to give the American people a chance to have their voices heard, but he continually dismisses the 65 million of us who elected his president. The Republicans have done too good of a job making them all look uniform that when someone who feels dangerous in a new way, and not dangerous in an old way, like Donald Trump comes onto the political scene, it's hard for Democrats to be able to tell the difference.
I will concede that Donald Trump is an unknown I don't think we should be risking the country on, and part of me wishes that someone like Jeb Bush or John Kasich were heading the Republicans, as that's an opponent I can't stand, but one that doesn't frighten me. But quite frankly, based on the rhetoric of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, it's hard for me to see that they aren't very similar in their approach in a way that Donald Trump isn't. It's hard for me to believe Rubio believes some of the things he says, but he says them and it took being backed into a political corner before he finally decided it was advantageous to attack him. We need a president that is going to go against someone because they feel they are wrong, not because they feel that it's politically worth it. I'm not arguing that Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton are magnanimous or that they aren't career politicians (they are-they've both been in politics for decades and both have personal faults), but the problem for institutions like the Boston Globe is that their handling of the GOP in the past six years (and the GOP's handling of itself) has made Trump possible by making Democrats not be able to see what the result of a Trump presidency would be from a Rubio or Cruz presidency. All they can see is that Trump makes it easier for them to win, and that's a hard mountain for them not to secretly root to face.