One often forgets that not all Americans spend several hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year following the course of politics, mainly Washington D.C. politics. This year there are likely more Americans than usual perusing the daily news to learn what new and outrageous statement is coming from the candidates seeking their party’s nomination. What is fascinating, frankly, is that novice observers and some pundits are shocked and awed by the typically jaw-dropping antics over on the right; specifically Republicans and Donald J. Trump.
For the past several months many observers and commentators, including this column, have opined that everything Donald Trump is saying, and nearly everything he proposes, is part and parcel of the Republican movement. The past week it’s been faux outrage after tacit approval for what many regard as racially insensitive remarks from Trump, and the back and forth about who is really the racist.
Last week there was indignation all around over Trump telling his campaign to turn the tables on journalists posing questions about his comments about an Hispanic judge, and call them racists. Then recently there are questions about Trump’s disregard for the rule of law in questioning the integrity of judges based on their national heritage or religious affiliation. Now, one U.S. Senator has unendorsed Trump for president and a state legislator has severed and disavowed his affiliation with the GOP over Trump’s racism. So the prescient question is this: why all the outrage from Republicans, or surprise from the left?
Republicans have been using racial dog whistles, and outright racially insensitive remarks, about Americans of color for at least a decade and they’ve only ramped it up since President Obama’s election. It’s just how they operate to rile up the white folk to garner electoral support. Not unlike what Donald Trump did to decimate the rest of the Republican presidential field. It is noteworthy that without the GOP laying the groundwork and making blatant racism popular and a campaign asset, Donald Trump would be back negotiating with the networks to host another reality show; he would not be the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee.
Of particular note this week is House Speaker Paul Ryan saying that he doesn’t like Trump’s racist remarks about a federal judge, not one bit, but he will support him all the same because he will aid Republicans in ravaging the poor and enriching the already wealthy. Now the big news is Trump’s people calling Speaker Ryan a racist because he said Trump’s comments are racist.
This is nothing new among Republicans and to punctuate the point a Republican congressman, Lee Zeldin (R-NY) was on CNN defending Trump’s character and said President Obama and the Democratic Party are the real racists. Maybe Americans have short memories, but it’s not been that long ago that anyone complaining about white police officers gunning down unarmed African Americans were called racists for insinuating the trigger-happy cops were driven by racial animus.
In yesterday’s New York Times (NYT), the editorial board wrote that Trump has contempt for the rule of law, and that his kind of logic would be the beginning of “the ethnic cleansing of the court system could [be made to] apply to any unpopular group at any time. “ The day before, the NYT ran a story about Trump having doubts that a Muslim judge could remain neutral in the case. Perhaps it is because Trump is running for the highest office in the land, but this kind of mindset is not unusual for Republicans. It may be outrageous from a presumptive presidential nominee, but it is not unusual from a Republican.
Republicans typically question the integrity of judges, particularly liberal judges, ability to be impartial over a particular case they may have presided over or who they defended when they worked in the public or private legal defense sector.
Congressional Republicans have also rejected highly-qualified individuals’ nominations for federal agencies over their position on an issue that corporations or lobbyists find unacceptable, even if they are unrelated to the position. Remember, Republicans opposed Dr. Vivek Murthy’s nomination as Surgeon General simply because he talked about the pressing need to address the epidemic of gun violence.
Republicans also oppose, out of hand, any jurist’s nomination or appointment if they are advocates for women’s freedom to choose and that opposition is always founded on religious belief. The Republicans opposing the nominee may not cite religion, but it is there all the same.
Of course, the above examples are not the same as blatantly questioning a respected jurist’s integrity based on his or her heritage or religious affiliation, but it is, all the same, casting aspersion on an American based on anything but their qualifications. It is precisely what Donald Trump is doing while Republicans act appalled and some Americans are in a state of disbelief because the presumptive Republican nominee is acting exactly like a Republican.
It is hard to believe that any Americans are unaware that Republicans are typically hypocrites, but their two-faced double standard for Donald Trump’s words is just beyond the pale. Subtle racist Paul Ryan spent over a year pushing the idea that inner city urban males (read Black men) need to learn the value and culture of work. Several Republicans have spent the past six years demonizing Hispanic immigrants as murderers, rapists, and drug smugglers. Nearly all Republicans have spent the past decade decrying Muslims living in America and regard them as terrorists. Throughout it all Republicans were not attacking other Republicans because their racism, religious bigotry, and anti-immigrant rhetoric was not being broadcast on the nightly news or the national stage.
Republicans and their various conservative iterations did not create Donald Trump, but they did systematically cultivate their racist, religious base and prepare them for the Donald. Trump also likely learned, from Republicans, that he can be as racially offensive as possible and when he’s called on it that person is a racist. One suspects that if Donald Trump reins in his racist and offensive rhetoric ever so slightly, Republicans will be hailing him as the second coming because Trump epitomizes a ‘true conservative’ including being a true bigot.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.