To understand precisely how Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has changed America, one need only look at a new pair of surveys. In April the Southern Poverty Law Center discovered that the Trump campaign has triggered an unprecedented wave of bigoted bullying in American schools: More than two-thirds of the teachers surveyed have had immigrant, Latino and Muslim students express fear about what will happen to them or their families if Trumps wins, while more than one-third have directly witnessed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant prejudice.
“What would it take for you to vote for a third-party candidate?”
This question was posed to me by a good friend who, after supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign, became so disenchanted with the political process that he backed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in 2012 (not surprisingly, he plans on doing so again this year). Because I’m a progressive and he’s a libertarian, we naturally don’t see eye-to-eye on many policy issues. Nevertheless, he respects those differences of opinion as healthy and productive. What he doesn’t seem to respect, though, is my determination to vote for Hillary Clinton instead of a candidate who better reflects my own values – be it by supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein or writing in Bernie Sanders, my personal choice during the primaries.
As The New York Times recently reported, there are an awful lot of social issues in which Donald Trump doesn’t now or didn’t in the past line up with his new vice presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. These range from abortion and gay rights to whether smoking kills people. Considering that Trump has flip-flopped on a number of issues in this election cycle alone, it may not seem particularly noteworthy that he has chosen a veep whose views are so out of whack with what he used to believe.
As America celebrates its 240th anniversary, the Donald Trump campaign confronts us with the vivid possibility that our democracy could look vastly different if he’s elected.
No, I’m not implying that Trump is another Adolf Hitler. You don’t need to be a latter-day Fuehrer to hold positions antithetical to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. That said, when you look at Trump’s avowed ideology, it becomes apparent that he has inadvertently aped the very tyrant whose reign prompted the American Revolution in the first place… King George III.
If Bernie Sanders supporters can learn anything from Brexit, it is that the English-speaking world is in the mood for a certain type of right-wing populism. On one side of the pond, the anti-immigrant and anti-free trade sentiment that swept the United Kingdom prompted that nation to vote for a historic exit from the European Union. In the United States, this phenomenon has manifested itself in the historic presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, who as I’ve explained before is the most anti-free trade major party candidate since Herbert Hoover.
Back in March, I observed that Donald Trump had transformed the Republican Party in a similar way as Barry Goldwater. For those of you unfamiliar with the reference, Goldwater was a plucky arch-conservative Senator from Arizona who defied the GOP establishment by winning their party’s presidential nomination in 1964. Although Goldwater was subsequently trounced in the general election by President Lyndon Johnson, his influence lived on in the policies pursued by Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushes.
It’s hardly surprising, that Breitbart recently referred to William Kristol as a “renegade Jew” in one of its headlines. The conservative website has been shilling pretty hard for Donald Trump over the past year, so it makes sense that the less savory aspects of Trump’s political style would eventually rub off on them.
What is that style, though? Outlets from The Washington Post to The Atlantic have spilled plenty of ink describing The Donald as un-politically correct, but Trump’s rhetoric does more than simply transgress the boundaries of polite conversation. From the moment he launched his presidential campaign until the present, Trump has repeatedly used ethnic labels and stereotypes to both define his opponents and discuss major policy issues. In the process, the Trump movement has trafficked a distinct brand of racial and religious tribalism into American life, one that is entirely comfortable with forgetting about who a person is and instead collectively defining individuals based on what they are.
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley were unified on one topic during the last Democratic presidential debate of the year Saturday night: The toxicity of Donald Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. Each candidate seized on the opportunity to decry racial and religious bigotry — and encouraged the rest of America to follow their example.
O’Malley set the tone in his opening statement when he discussed a recent visit to a mosque in Northern Virginia and talked about “the danger that democracies find themselves susceptible to when unscrupulous leaders try to turn us upon each other.”