Saturday, August 29, 2015

Editorial: Anger Babies Roil GOP

Donald Trump has staked out a so-far successful campaign to attract American xenophobes, white supremacists and low-information voters who form an increasingly large base of the Republican Party.

Two weeks after the first Republican debate, despite the controversy over his past sexist comments and his baiting of Fox News host Megyn Kelly, Trump has solidified his frontrunner status, as polls have showed him the choice of 24 to 32 percent of Republican voters, far ahead of the 16 other presidential candidates.

Trump has set much of the tone for the race with his call to deport an estimated 11 million undocumented aliens, as well as an estimated 4.5 million children who were born in the US and thus claim citizenship under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Most of his Republican rivals joined in the immigrant bashing.

The real estate mogul and reality show celebrity has picked up support from white supremacists, including David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who said Trump was “the best of the lot” running on the GOP side.

“Immigration is an existential threat for our people in every way,” Duke said during his radio show on Aug. 18.

“I’ve said from the beginning I think his campaign is good in the sense that it’s bringing these issues to a discussion which we have to have in America,” Duke said, referring to Trump’s high-profile immigration remarks. “And he’s continuing to move the envelope further and I think he understands the real sentiment of America.”

Latinos also appear to understand the sentiment of the Republican Party. They comprise the largest ethnic minority in the US, with 54 million, or 17% of the population. In 2012, Latinos amounted to 9.2% of voters in federal elections and they helped President Obama win re-election despite getting only 39% of the white vote. Mitt Romney got just 27% of the Latino vote.

Republicans need 42 to 47 percent of the Latino vote to win in 2016, the polling firm Latino Decisions says. Latino voters may put the swing in several purple states next year, including Colorado, Florida and Nevada.

Trump insists that Latinos love him, but actual Latinos have a different opinion. A Gallup poll of 2,183 Hispanic adults in all 50 states and D.C. conducted July 8 to Aug. 23 found that Trump was by far the best-known Republican, as 79% of Hispanics were familiar with him, but 65% had an unfavorable opinion. Only 14% were favorable, for a net 51 points unfavorable.

Jeb Bush, the only other Republican recognized by a majority of Hispanics, was known to 57%, with 34% favorable and 23% unfavorable, or a net 11 points favorable — though most of the survey occurred before Bush referred to the children of undocumented immigrants as “anchor babies” on June 19.

Latinos were unimpressed with the two Cuban Americans in the race: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were known to 43% of US Hispanics; 24% like Rubio, for a net 5 points favorable, while only 18% like Cruz, for a net 7 points unfavorable.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was familiar to 76% of Hispanics, and 58% like her, for a net favorability of 40 points. Only 25% knew of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and 15% were favorable, for a net favorability of 5 points.

Trump didn’t help his standing among Latinos when Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos was forcibly ejected from his news conference June 25 in Dubuque, Iowa, after Ramos repeatedly tried to question Trump about immigration issues. “Go back to Univision,” Trump yelled at Ramos, as Trump’s bodyguard pushed him out of the hall.

After other reporters asked Trump why he would not take questions from the newsman, Ramos was allowed back in a few minutes later. He asked Trump about his comments about “anchor babies,” his plans to build a 1,954-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border, and Trump’s assertion that many Mexican immigrants are criminals.

Trump said he plans to deal with immigration problems “in a very humane fashion,” adding, “I have a bigger heart than you do.”

Ironically, while the incident probably will further alienate Latino voters, it could help Trump secure more white supporters in his race for the nomination.

The next morning, Trump told NBC’s Today show that Ramos was “ranting and raving like a madman” and “totally, absolutely out of line.”

Ramos replied on Twitter, “What’s ‘totally out of line’ is to eject a reporter from a press conference for asking questions.” Ramos has two million nightly viewers and 1.48 million Twitter followers. He is often called variations on “Latino Walter Cronkite.”

In an essay written for before his confrontation, Ramos noted that deporting all undocumented immigrants would cost an estimated $137 billion, or $12,500 per immigrant, according to estimates from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Building the wall along the border would cost more than $300 billion. And that still wouldn’t stop the 40% of undocumented immigrants who enter the US by airplane and then simply overstay their visas. In 2013, he noted, more undocumented immigrants entered the US from China (147,000) than from Mexico (125,000), according to the Wall Street Journal.

Republican candidates also have opened up a new front for attack: Asian immigrants and the general threat from China. Bush tried to recover from his gaffe of using the term “anchor babies” to refer to children of Latino immigrants by saying on Aug. 24, “What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts and, frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country.”

Paula Young Lee noted at (Aug. 25), “In one sentence, Jeb not only managed to unify all of Asian-America into a single voting bloc, he made that bloc highly disinclined to be voting Republican in the next election.”

That bloc includes Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Koreans, Japanese, Asian Indians, Malaysians, Pakistanis, and so on, under this “Asian” umbrella, Lee noted. “Each country of origin has a distinct language, cuisine, history, and culture, but once these groups become US citizens, they are all ‘Asian-American’ — currently a population of 20.5 million, and one of the fastest growing voting groups in the US.

“And yet a Bush just told the highest income-earning, best-educated minority group in America that Asians of all kinds don’t really belong in this country, including the legal ones.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed up by demanding that President Obama cancel his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the Chinese stock market plunge apparently initiated a correction in Western stock markets, including New York’s.

Despite his own business ties with China, Trump returned to bashing the communist-capitalist hybrid, which has been a feature of his xenophobia. “I’ve been telling everybody for a long time,” he said, “China’s taking our jobs; they’re taking our money. Be careful — they’ll bring us down. You have to known what you’re doing — we have nobody that has a clue.”

The crazies in the GOP race for president have gone a long way toward ruining the Republican brand. This isn’t Dwight Eisenhower’s Republican Party. It isn’t even Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party. This is the John Birch Society’s Republican Party, sponsored by Charles and David Koch.

We’d like to think that the Trump-inspired madness will make it easier for Democrats to retain the White House and perhaps regain control of Congress next year. But ever since George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004 we have found it hard to trust in the good sense of the American electorate (or the integrity of the vote counters) to carry the day. The only good thing about Donald Trump is we don’t think the Republican power brokers, or the Koch Brothers, trust him either.

Organize for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, or whoever you prefer on the left, but don’t make the fatal error of thinking that the 2016 election won’t matter. Don’t leave the election up to the anger babies. — JMC
From The Progressive Populist, September 15, 2015

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