Monday, July 6, 2015

Donald Trump is a boon to the GOP

   
     Politics is usually what is called a “zero-sum game.”
     Or in English, “I win/You lose.”
     Something bad for the other guy is good for you.
     A blow to the Republicans is a boon for the Democrats.
     And vice versa.
     But politics isn’t everything.
     Take the latest Donald Trump presidential eruption.
     Common wisdom is that the crass, vain, logorrheic Trump will hurt the Republican Party with his comic opera campaign, his tendency to say almost anything and then stick to it.
     You hear the term “blithering idiot,” but how many times do you actually hear a man blither? Donald Trump blithers.
     But I honestly believe Trump will help the Republicans in their bid to take over the White House after eight years of exile. If not, he’ll still end up helping the country.
     How?
     First, he might win.
     Think back to a previous laughable candidate, who Democrats like me just couldn’t believe was running. He was a rich Hollywood actor who plugged Borax on television and starred in a movie with a chimp. He said so many stupid things — to Democratic ears, anyway — pundits gathered them into books. He was a joke.
     That candidate was Ronald Reagan, of course. While I think Reagan had much more going for him — his folksy charm, his twinkle, as opposed to Trump’s gut-turning hair edifice, his “I’m very rich” shrug and tendency to snarl — Trump taking it from the current field of pygmies is not outside of the realm of possibility. He isn’t even the most ridiculous New York area candidate. That would be New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
     But I don’t think Trump will help the cause by winning.
     He’ll help by being an unavoidable embodiment of his failed beliefs. His presidential announcement contained this jaw-dropping denunciation of Mexican immigrants, not a gaffe or a misstatement, but something he said early on in the speech at Trump Tower announcing his candidacy.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
     This is untrue on so many levels, it’s such a classic piece of xenophobic fear mongering, the media fell to picking it apart. Painting immigrants as criminals is an American tradition. The Irish were criminals. Italians were criminals. Jews were criminals. And while all those groups, being humans, contained criminals, and might be pushed in that direction by the power structure freezing them out of jobs, there was nothing intrinsic about Irish, Italians, Jews — or Mexicans — that made them criminals.
     And, in fact, scholars show that immigration affects our crime rate — which has been tumbling for years — not at all.
     By twirling in the spotlight with his hateful screed — one of my colleagues called it “critical candor;” though were I groping for an alliteration I’d go with “bigoted B.S.” — Trump might help the Republicans finally see that it’s wrong.
     A foul person or act can bring clarity to a moral wrong. Trump’s like the Westboro Baptist Church, which if anything makes people more sympathetic to gays by airing their hatred in such an odious fashion. I’m not comparing Donald Trump to Dylann Roof. But the 21-year-old, by killing nine people in church after embracing the Confederate flag, finally made people understand what the flag is really about. Suddenly, people got it. And Donald Trump, by including the stereotypical sexual panic that is at the heart of so much racism — “They’re rapists” — might make it a little easier to whatever non-loathsome candidate the Republicans end up with (my guess is Jeb Bush) to back away a step or two from the immigration cliff the party seems intent on leaping over again.
     So that’s good for them. And while that might be bad for Democratic chances, it’s good for the country as a whole. Because we are never going to deport those 11 million illegal immigrants. They’re going to gain civil rights, eventually. And their children will, like every other second-generation group, become politically powerful. Donald Trump just doesn’t get it. But he doesn’t get it in such a persistent, public, obnoxious and embarrassing way, he might just help others to finally understand. And that’s good for everybody.

36 comments:

  1. I'm going to break my self-imposed "don't post a comment early on EGD" rule because immigration reform is such an important topic and work is going to keep me off the comments section today (hold the cheering, please!) I don't disagree with anything NS says here about Trump or illegal immigrants. In fact, illegal immigrants not only don't increase overall crime rates, they also don't take more in government services/benefits than they pay in taxes - another myth. There are certain impacts in the schools but they're modest). The problem with both Trump and this column is that they're a distraction from the real issues with immigration: the impact on the working class (the approximately 1 in 5 workers without a high school diploma) and the underclass, and particularly on low-wage or unemployed African-American workers. And the question is NOT whether we're going to deport 12 million people or whether we're going to have a zero immigration policy like Japan, it's whether we grant permanent legal status to these people before any serious border control and employment verification (i.e., sufficient to avoid a repeat of the 1986 amnesty) are in place. With technology replacing many low and mid-skill jobs at an unprecedented rate, a 5-year old economic recovery where unemployment goes down but wages don't rise. and nonparticipation in the workforce is at historic highs, and with young African-American unemployment at third world levels, the Gang of Eight bill would be a disaster. Why do you think the Koch Brothers and US Chamber poured millions of dollars into trying to pass it and continue to fight for something like it? They'll trade minimum wage hikes for a glutted work force that depresses salaries everywhere.

    Here's a suggestion: call Trump's bluff. Offer to "build a wall" if the GOP will raise taxes on energy to pay for it and for robust employment enforcement after it's built (we need an economic stimulus anyway, and that would help with global warming too). It might be the only time you'll ever get those folks to agree to higher taxes. In exchange, let that trigger one last amnesty, a real one with no silly "touchback" trips, fines, requirements to learn English, etc. Because if we end up with the kind of "reform" Jeb Bush would deliver, that will not be "good for everybody."

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    1. No need to worry about paying for that wall. Trump says he'll get Mexico to pay for it. And it will be the classiest wall you've ever seen.

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  2. Advocate of the Anti-ChristJuly 6, 2015 at 6:03 AM

    All the politicians--Democratic and Republican, are essentially all the same and want to continue the rule of the rich in this, the worst country and system in all of history.

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    1. Please explain how Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are "the same," and be specific.

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    2. He/she is the same kind of idiot who voted for Nader in 2000 claiming there wasn't a difference between Gore & Junior Bush.
      History has sadly proven the idiots were utterly wrong & have wrecked this country!

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    3. Clark St.----The reply section needs a "like" or fave option. The "both sides" distraction that is common to the beltway "liberal press" thought process is a prime reason we have so many mis-informed people. Nader showed himself as a selfish egotist, as did the guy in Maine who stayed and gave Paul Lepage a 2nd win. Sanders is not a ruler of the rich and needs to be depicted fairly by the everybody does it crowd. Anti christ is wrong. We are the worst til compared to all others.

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    4. Clark Street - yes, and that was only the most recent example - the same group abandoned Hubert Humphrey in '68 and gave us Nixon.

      Re: Saunders - there's an interesting disconnect between his support for the Gang of Eight bill and executive action on deportations and his rhetoric prior to the senate vote on Gang of Eight. He was making similar economic populist arguments about the bill, particularly the number of work visas. He ended up voting for it though.

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    5. Probably should say "the same type" though I'm sure there was a wee bit of overlap!

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  3. Donald Trump is a rabble rouser in a party without any rabble. Raymond J. Wardingley, during the course of his political career, received more primary and general election votes, then Donald the Clown ever will.

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  4. good points from NS and ANA, especially on the Koch bros.

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  5. good one, troll watch

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  6. The idea of a President Trump is as abhorrent as Governor Rauner. The thought that another wealthy egoist would hold high office is frightening.

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  7. true indeed, Maida

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  8. The photos are of San Simeon, right? The Donald manages to make Hearst seem circumspect.

    Trump's "campaign" is like manna from heaven for the "fake news" shows, at least. As Jon Stewart put it: "America's id is running for President." Well, at least 12% of the Republican id, at this point, I suppose.

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    1. PS - luckily for the GOP, Trump is no Rauner - you can hear the pain in his voice about losing money on this race, and he was never going to spend Rauner-like amounts of his own money to get elected.

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  9. Jakash - he's also a Godsend to Jeb Bush - by sucking all the oxygen from the "base" candidates he not only makes Jeb look moderate by comparison, he makes Jeb's poll numbers look better and has poisoned the base on the one non-Jeb candidate I sense the Dems were most worried about (Rubio). The GOP base hasn't figured out in a decade how to vote strategically and then they wonder why the moderates always win in the end.

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  10. It is an attractive notion that hearing hate speech coming out of the mouth of an idiot will inoculate people against the sentiments being expressed, but one that's liable to be, in the words of Henry James, "a beautiful theory murdered by a gang of brutal facts." There is a deep strain of nativism in American political life going back to the "No nothing" party, and it run's deep in the GOP's DNA. Members of their so-called "base" will make it hard for moderate Republican candidates to convincingly distance themselves from what Trump said, and for the Democrats to let them would be an act of political malpractice.

    The two main takeaways from Mr. Trump's announcement of his candidacy were that he is incredibly rich, and that most of our problems come from a dysfunctional Mexico. That being the case, why doesn't he just buy Mexico and fix it?

    Tom Evans

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  11. I believe that's the "know" nothing party of yore, Tom.

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    1. You're right, of course. Fell into the old homonym trap.

      Tom

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  12. A-N-A, why do you say there's a problem with this problem? That's just a different perspective.

    Jak, good to see you here again.

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    1. I meant a problem with this article, the article not the problem

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    2. I feel it's a problem because attention is a limited resource and what I call the "liberal/progressive argument against immigration reform" is being silenced by the media. Yes, I realize how paranoid that sounds, but consider this: where have you read a column making the populist argument against the Gang of Eight bill in the Sun-Times NS? No. Mark Brown? Heck no. Esther Cepeda? Immigration reform was to her what Likud politics is to Steve Huntley. Jesse Jackson? No. Sue Ontroveros (sp?) No. The editorial board? Haw. Even the aforementioned token conservative Huntley once wrote an article in favor of "reform." Mary Mitchell refuses to say a single word on the subject and I have a pretty good idea why (she did make an anti-illegal immigration comment in a column that predates the most recent debates). My memory has to go back to when Morton Anderson had a column to find a column that was critical of immigration reform (the similar Kennedy-McCain bill). If one or two such pieces ever did appear in the Sun-Times and I missed them they were dwarfed by the all the others.

      That's why the pro-reform crowd loves it, or at least finds an upside, when the nativist element in the Tea Party rears its ugly head. It avoids talking about where the economy is going, the winners and losers in immigration reform, and why a law that the CBO says will only slow illegal immigration by 25% but will waste billions on "border security" has their support.

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    3. Why, thanks, 2:45 Anonymous. As Phillipe noted yesterday, one can be lurking here among the commenters while having nothing to add to the conversation. : )

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  13. are there really 11 million illegal immigrants? or are they the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants and actually undocumented aliens?

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  14. it seems the actual history of the "confederate flag" and what it means will never actually be available, or clear to the average googler. before it is banned will you answer the questions; how long was the American stars and bars flag used by the Ku Klux Klan as it's banner? should it also be removed form use?

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    1. Rather than banning the Confederate flag, which would be unconstitutional, the current focus is on removing it from buildings that represent the government/people in the present day. I'm guessing your final question is rhetorical, but I'll venture that the answer is no, regardless of any group's attempt to usurp its meaning.

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    2. Coey, you are too much of a southern sympathizer. Don't get soft just because some relative lives there and you met some more southerners.

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    3. good point about the KKK, John

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    4. I'm not sure what you find soft and sympathetic about what I said, but hey, I am what I am. Constitutionality aside, I find an individual's display of the Confederate flag to be a helpful early warning sign, like swastikas and truck nuts. That tells me "Do Not Engage."

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    5. The Confederate battle flag, when it was adopted, stood for giving up on membership in the United States rather than giving up on the practice of slavery. For preferring to start a war of treasonous revolt against the U.S. rather than see the institution of slavery threatened, or even prevented from being permitted in new states. It may or may not mean different things to different people now.

      In answer to the questions posed at 4:17: I don't know, and no.

      Here's a question in return. The KKK seemed to like the symbol of the Christian cross a lot, too. Is that relevant to a proper understanding of the original meaning of that symbol?

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    6. How much easier is it to ban the symbol, rather than change the negativity behind it. I so admire Republicans standing up against this flag at the same time they're trying to prevent the minority insulted from voting.

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    7. True. While removal of the symbol is overdue, it's a distraction from the much larger issues.

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    8. Of course, it's a distraction. But you take what you can get, it seems to me. If, 150 freaking years after the end of the Civil War, this horrible tragedy is what it takes to get people to see that flag for what it represents, it'll at least be something. Many, many outrageous shootings result in no appreciable societal change in anything.

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  15. That's cause conservative are usually hypocrites, Wendy.

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  16. Too bad Mr. S. didn't come back to comment.

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  17. They said years back Big Tobacco couldn't be broken and it was.

    One day, it will happen to the NRA and the gun manuf., but it will be a while yet.

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Thanks for commenting. As soon as I vet your remarks, they'll be posted, assuming they aren't, you know, mean and crazy.