Those are some of the views Republicans endorse by uncritically embracing and supporting President Trump. He is leading his party down a sewer of unabashed racism and willful ignorance, and all who follow him — and I mean all — deserve to feel the mighty wrath of voters in November.
I’m talking to you, Sen.
- Susan Collins of Maine. And you, Sen.
- Cory Gardner of Colorado. And you, Sens.
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina,
- Martha McSally of Arizona,
- Joni Ernst of Iowa,
- Steve Daines of Montana,
- Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and
- John Cornyn of Texas.
And while those of you in deep-red states whose reelection ordinarily would be seen as a mere formality may not see the giant millstones you’ve hung around your necks as a real risk, think again. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina and even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, you should look at the numbers and realize you are putting your Senate seats — and the slim GOP majority — in dire jeopardy.
You can run and hide from reporters asking you about Trump’s latest statements or tweets. You can pretend not to hear shouted questions as you hurry down Capitol hallways. You can take out your cellphones and feign being engrossed in a terribly important call. Ultimately, you’re going to have to answer to voters — and in the meantime you have decided to let Trump speak for you. Best of luck with that.
It is not really surprising that Trump, with his poll numbers falling and his reelection in serious jeopardy, would decide to use race and public health as wedge issues to inflame his loyal base. That’s all he knows how to do.
Most politicians would see plunging poll numbers as a warning to try a different approach; Trump takes them as a sign to do more of the same — more race-baiting, more authoritarian “law and order” posturing, more see-no-evil denial of a raging pandemic that has cost more than 120,000 American lives.
Racism is a feature of the Trump shtick, not a bug. He sees the nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd as an opportunity not for healing and reform, but to stir anger and resentment among his overwhelmingly white voting base. Trump wants no part of the reckoning with history the country seems to crave.
This week, city officials in Charleston, S.C. — the place where the Civil War began — took down a statue of John C. Calhoun, a leading 19th-century politician and fierce defender of slavery, from its 115-foot column in Marion Square and hauled it away to a warehouse. Also this week, Trump reportedly demanded that the District’s monument to Confederate Gen. Albert Pike, toppled last week by protesters, be cleaned up and reinstalled exactly as it was.
Trump went to Arizona not just to falsely claim great progress on building his promised border wall, intended to keep out the “hombres,” but also to delight fervent young supporters by referring to covid-19 as “kung flu.” Weeks ago, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said that racist term was clearly offensive and unacceptable. But since Trump has made it into a red-meat applause line, Conway now apparently thinks it’s a perfectly legitimate way to identify the virus’s country of origin.
All the other Republicans who fail to speak up while Trump runs the most nakedly racist presidential campaign since George Wallace in 1968 shouldn’t kid themselves. Their silence amounts to agreement. Perhaps there’s enough white bitterness out there to carry the Republican Party to another narrow win. But that’s not what the polls say.
Trump’s antics are self-defeating. He’ll put on a racist show for a shrinking audience, but he won’t wear the masks that could allow the economic reopening he desperately wants. He may be able to avoid reality, but the Republican governors — including Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida — scrambling desperately to contain new outbreaks cannot.
It’s almost as though Trump is determined to destroy the Republican Party. Let’s give him his wish.
But after doing all this reporting, we think what Bannon does is often tactical. (40 min)
.. Bannon and the Mercers actively supported with publicity and money people tied to white supremacists. Like, maybe he doesn’t really agree with those white supremacists who helped with the rise of people like Milo Yiannopoulos, the rise of Breitbart News and the rise of Donald Trump. Maybe those people are just numbers to him. I mean, I guess if you’re down with white supremacists, you’re down with white supremacists and no one should care why you’re down with them. But if you are tactical, that means you can change.
.. You wanted to be the Leni Riefenstahl for George Bush, then you wanted to be the Leni Riefenstahl for the Republican Party. Now you want to blow up the Republican Party. The world moves fast. The attention span is not long. I mean, this is a guy who’s invested in Biosphere 2, nasal spray, the San Diego Chicken and “World Of Warcraft.” Like, maybe after he gets tired of hashtag #WAR, Steve Bannon will move on to something else.
On CNN in 2015, I said: “If Hillary Clinton paid somebody to try to destroy the Republican brand, they would do exactly what Donald Trump has done.”
.. In May 2016, I warned: “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cannot destroy the conservative brand. Donald Trump can. Donald Trump can redefine what it means to be a Republican and what it means to be in a conservative. In a way, Trump is more dangerous to conservatism than Obama and Hillary because he is posing as a conservative.”
.. Trump has had six months to learn the job, improve, and advance a conservative agenda. He’s 0-for-3. What is more, if even his new chief of staff Gen. John Kelly cannot fix this mess—and it is now incredibly clear that even he cannot perform miracles!—it won’t be fixed. At some point, it’s time to pull the plug. That time is now.What exactly do I mean by “pull the plug”? These three things
- As former McConnell chief of staff Josh Homes suggests, Republicans should “reassert an identity without Donald Trump.” What this means to me is that Republican politicians should pursue their own agenda, independent of concern about Trump’s plans or legacy. In other words, act as if he doesn’t exist—as if he’s irrelevant.
- All good-thinking conservatives should now commit to supporting a viable and serious primary challenge to Donald Trump in the GOP primary. This should not be a perfunctory exercise, but rather, a full-throated attempt to replace him as the nominee. Further, where you stand on this should be considered a defining moment. Personally, I would nominate Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska as the kind of person conservatives should back.
- It’s time to quit making excuses for Trump apologists and enablers. Although I always try to be civil to everyone, those who defend the indefensible do not deserve our respect. Further, aside from chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster—people we should be begging to stay on duty—anyone who continues to serve Donald Trump’s political agenda (and here, I would also grant a waiver for serious professionals working for, say, Health and Human Services) have cast their lot.