Unless you’ve somehow, blessedly, shut yourself away from the circus that the 2016 election has become, you’ve probably heard by now that Donald Trump has “hit a new low.”
Oh, you need me to be more specific? I’m referring this time to Trump’s recent suggestion that the US close its doors entirely to Muslim immigrants. It’s not as though he doesn’t understand the historical context of his proposal, either; on Good Morning America, Trump proudly compared his plan to FDR’s forced internment of 110,000 Japanese immigrants following the events of Pearl Harbor back in 1941.
The proposal, as you might imagine, has enraged not just Americans, but our allies around the globe. So the only question left to ask is the one we’ve asked virtually every week since Trump announced his candidacy: has he finally gone too far?
It’s Not Just Trump
To answer my own rhetorical question: No, I don’t think this is one “Trump-ism” too far. This country has had quite a few opportunities to slam the door on a Trump presidency, and we’ve failed to do so at every turn. Why should this particular time be any different?
We could’ve done it when we discovered that he’s a serial misogynist, we could’ve done it when we discovered he had possible anti-semite leanings, and we could’ve done it when he started showing signs that he’s a fascist.
Actually, strike that last one; VICE recently interviewed a fascism expert to answer, once and for all, the question “Is Donald Trump a fascist?” The answer, unsurprisingly, was simple:
No. He’s “not principled enough.”
And that’s really the point here: he’s a man without principles, scruples, filters, or a shred of self-awareness. All rather surprising, really, considering he owns an ego so huge even Kanye West is seething with jealousy. No; there’s no reason to think he actually believes the things he says in public. Trump is, after all, a masterful manipulator—his talent for media savviness far precedes him.
And he can smell blood in the water, too, which is why so many of his remarks focus so heavily on stirring up hatred—hatred of women, people of color, refugees, immigrants, you name it. It’s because he’s found the wounds in this country’s social fabric and he’s slowly picking them open again, stoking the fires of racial unrest and our deeply ingrained fear of People Unlike Us. He’s managed to mobilize the radical fringes of the Political Right so successfully because he doesn’t know how to wrap these prejudices in the careful language of the Politically Correct. The portion of America’s electorate that thrives on hatred and mistrust finally have someone willing to sink to their level.
It’s a game that the rest of the GOP field hasn’t mastered yet, although they’re trying very hard. After all, several of the other Republican contenders have voiced positions very much like what Donald Trump has suggested. Remember: Rand Paul tried very hard to push through an amendment earlier in December that would suspend immigration visas to refugees from so-called “high-risk countries,” and Jeb! Bush, at his Jebbiest, recently stammered something about some kind of religious screening process that would bar entry to the US for refugees who aren’t of the Christian persuasion.
You know: Real American Values.
And that’s to say nothing of the GOP’s proposals to maintain databases of American Muslims who are already here; repeal the ACA, which has provided health insurance to millions of Americans who didn’t have it before; and further uncouple our already shockingly inadequate gun control laws from reality: all proposals that The Donald has enthusiastically given his endorsement. But the difference between the other GOP candidates and Donald Trump is that they’re all too scared to say these things as matter-of-factly as Trump does.
And why’s that? Because they still want votes from the ever-smaller ranks of moderate Republicans. But Trump? I don’t think he cares, really. He’s in it for the camera time. A narcissist through and through.
It’s Time to Stop Covering the Trump Campaign
But here’s the real problem with all of this. Trump’s visibility in the media is a self-fulfilling prophesy. News outlets (and “news” outlets) talk about Trump because he gets them cheap and easy clicks. And the other GOP candidates talk about him because, well, by comparison, they get to look like Moderates for the first time in their lives.
After Trump’s latest new low, the Huffington Post did something rather inspiring: it publicly committed to giving Trump the cold shoulder. The publication will no longer be covering the Trump campaign as “entertainment” or as a serious Presidential bid.
And really, wasn’t that was always the quickest way to end this waking nightmare? When an egomaniacal, attention-starved, media-savvy blowhard, racist, misogynist, and pathological liar decides he wants the national spotlight, do we not have a moral responsibility to deny him an audience?
Let’s do what the rest of the GOP field is too scared to do: denounce the lunatic-who-would-be-President, and denounce the campaign of fear and ignorance, perpetuated by the Right, that distracts us from the real issues by dividing us. In a recent poetic and heartfelt segment for NBC News, veteran reporter Tom Brokaw had this to say:
“Donald Trump’s promise to ban all Muslims from coming to America is more—much more—than a shouted campaign provocation. Trump’s statement, even in this season of extremes, is a dangerous proposal that overrides history, the law, and the foundation of America itself. In my lifetime alone, we have been witness to the consequences of paranoia overriding reason.”
Image by Gage Skidmore.
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