Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Tuesday condemned Donald Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
“I don’t agree,” Priebus said. “We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values.”…
Priebus, pressed further on the implications of Trump’s plan on the future of the GOP and its presumed battle against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election, declined to answer. “That’s as far as I’m going to go,” he said, referring to his initial answer.
“Oh, for the love of God,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University. “This would not only violate international law, but do so by embracing open discrimination against one religion. It would make the United States a virtual pariah among nations.’’…
“That’s blatantly unconstitutional if it excludes U.S. citizens because they are Muslims. It’s ridiculous,” said Richard Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan. He cited the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the First Amendment’s doctrine of freedom of religion…
“We have treaties, all sorts of relationships with other countries,’’ said Palma Yanni, a D.C. immigration lawyer and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “I’m sure it would violate innumerable treaties if we suddenly started banning citizens of NATO countries, of Southeast Asian countries.’’
Carson, a Republican opponent of Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that he opposes Trump’s proposal in the wake of terror attacks.
“It’s just not who we are,” Carson said. “We are not a people who react in a fearful way. You know, when you talk about prejudice, prejudice is usually born out of fear and ignorance. That’s not who we are.”
He also said Trump’s proposal is unconstitutional.
“We do not discriminate on people based on religion — that’s constitutional, that’s in the First Amendment, so we would never want to do that,” Carson said.
That gleeful, unapolagetic incivility is at the root of what makes him a bad person, and also at the root his approach to politics and policy. Most of his proposals, to the limited extent that they can be understood as remotely serious, are insults in policy form.
In addition to last night’s ban on Muslim travel to the U.S., he has called for the forcible government closure of mosques. When asked recently, he said Muslims should be tracked via government database. He promised that as president he would simply deport 11 million immigrants in short order after taking office, an impossible maneuver intended mostly to demonstrate his disdain for immigrants. He does not merely want to deport people who came to United States illegally; he also wants to deport millions of their children. He has repeatedly voiced enthusiastic support for federal seizure of private property through eminent domain, and, as a real estate investor, taken advantage of it himself.
Each of these moves are designed to denigrate some individual or some group: Muslims, immigrants, the children of people he does not like, private property owners who do not agree with Donald Trump’s real estate. These are power plays that put one party down while elevating and empowering Trump, the man and the brand. He is not just an authoritarian; he is an authoritarian narcissist. (It’s no accident that his speeches almost always involve lengthy disquisitions into his poll numbers.)
Sen. Lindsey Graham ripped into Cruz Tuesday morning for not denouncing Trump’s proposal. “Hey, Ted—this is not a policy debate. Nobody, I mean, nobody believe this works, Ted. The bottom line is that you need to stand up for our party and for our country, and if you want to make America great again, reject this without any doubt or hesitation,” Graham said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It puts our troops and diplomats at risk overseas. I just got back from Iraq a week ago Monday, and they were worried about his behavior and statements even before this.”…
Newt Gingrich, who was previously speaker of the House and made a run for president in 2012, criticized Trump’s tone in his proposal – but that’s about it.
“I think Trump’s idea may be too strong, but I think something jarring is very helpful in leading to a national debate in how big this problem is, and how dangerous it is,” Gingrich said, according to the New York Times. “Nine percent of Pakistanis agree with ISIS, according to one poll. That’s a huge number. We need to put all the burden of proof on people coming from those countries to show that they are not a danger to us.”
Asked whether Trump will have a lasting impact on the GOP and its general election chances, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos says, “He may have; we don’t know.”
“The answer is whether the nominee is a validation of Trump, or whether it is a rejection of Trump,” Castellanos says. “Does somebody absorb him and win, or does someone beat him and win?”…
“Trump’s biggest impact is that he’s moved the conversation in such a conservative and at times xenophobic direction that he’s making a lot of these candidates compete on that same turf,” says Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist in Florida who managed Barack Obama’s campaign there in 2008. “It’s not so much the words Donald Trump has uttered, it’s what the eventual nominee has.”…
“The longer he stays in, the more he represents their brand,” says Max Steele, communications director for the Florida Democratic Party. “We’re a very large and diverse state and the comments Trump has made about a large swath of the Florida electorate will come back to haunt the Republican brand, whoever the nominee is.”
One senior Republican strategist who works for a company that advises campaigns explained why the establishment may be cautious.
Based on his takeaway from focus groups, Trump is “bringing in disaffected Republicans who are fed up with everything. It goes beyond Tea Party,” said the Republican, who requested anonymity to discuss strategy candidly. These supporters “discount what’s being said about him,” he said. “It’s in one ear and out the other.”
The strategist said Trump has a group of “hard-core followers” equal to about 20 to 25 percent of the Republican vote. “In a race of 15 candidates, 20 to 25 percent makes you king,” he observed. “But it doesn’t win you the election.” Republicans have to walk a tightrope, he said. While “it’s dangerous not to come out and disavow some of the things he’s saying,” personalizing attacks on Trump could be counterproductive. Defeating Trump is not a matter of carpet-bombing him, he continued, but rather a matter of winnowing the Republican field and consolidating behind an alternative.
Even before Mr. Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim entry into the United States, his supporters were in favor of the move. His call is unlikely to offend his strongest supporters, and in fact may have been an appeal to the pre-existing attitudes of his core constituency…
To see how these anti-Muslim attitudes relate to support for Mr. Trump, I turned to data collected by YouGov from Nov. 19 through Nov. 23 — a little more than a week before the attack in San Bernardino. The survey of 2,000 people shows that Mr. Trump’s supporters are particularly suspicious of Muslims, and although the numbers get quite small, among all of the other candidates only Ted Cruz’s supporters look similar to Mr. Trump’s on this topic…
Another way to see the importance of Muslim attitudes for Mr. Trump’s voters is to examine how increasing support for him connects to escalating beliefs about a Muslim threat. The data show that nearly half of Republicans who think Muslims pose an immediate threat to the United States support Mr. Trump over other candidates in the race, while only 13 percent of Republicans who think Muslims are not a threat to the country choose him over the others. Likewise, Mr. Trump is winning a majority of G.O.P. primary voters who believe most Muslims worldwide support ISIS.
-67% of his voters support a national database of Muslims in the United States, to only 14% opposed to it.
-62% believe his claims that thousands of Arabs cheered in New Jersey when the World Trade Center collapsed, to only 15% who don’t believe that.
-51% want to see the Mosques in the country shut down, to only 16% against that.
-And only 24% of Trump supporters in the state even think Islam should be legal at all in the United States, to 44% who think it shouldn’t be.
Maybe it’s time for those of us who have predicted Trump’s demise—reporters, liberals, moderate Republicans—to face an unpleasant possibility. Trump isn’t out of touch with the electorate. We are. Trump speaks for a plurality of today’s Republicans, and many independents as well. That’s just as true on the subject of Muslims as on other topics. One of America’s two ruling parties is controlled by voters who are ready to turn the government against a religious minority…
Together, these polls paint a sobering picture of Trump’s party. Forty-three percent of Republicans say the government should monitor most Muslims. Fifty-four percent say they wouldn’t vote for a qualified Muslim for president, even if that candidate were nominated by the GOP. Fifty-seven percent say Islamic values are at odds with American values. More than 60 percent say not only that mosques should be closed based on suspected ties to extremists, but also that Muslims in general think they’re above the law. As for Trump’s proposal to bar Muslim refugees, it’s not even close. When the question is presented without cues, 5 of every 6 Republicans agree with him.
So let’s stop pretending the problem is Trump. The problem is the base—and by many measures, the majority—of the Republican Party. If you think we can’t elect a government in 2016 that would target a religious minority, you’re underestimating Trump. And you’re overestimating America.
Muslims are an unpopular group these days. And I would argue that nonviolent Muslim leaders have a responsibility to call out terror and violence and jihad. At the same time, those of us who are Christians ought to stand up for religious liberty not just when our rights are violated but on behalf of others, too.
Make no mistake. A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies. A government that can close the borders to all Muslims simply on the basis of their religious belief can do the same thing for evangelical Christians.
A government that issues ID badges for Muslims simply because they are Muslims can, in the fullness of time, demand the same for Christians because we are Christians.
It is no accident that President Obama’s America has given rise to Donald Trump. It is an America that is more tribalist, where people feel more racially and religiously divided; more politically correct, where people feel less free to speak their minds; and it is an America where trust in the nation’s elites, whose skills are credentialed but unproven, are at historic lows…
President Obama was supposed to be someone who unified us as a nation; whose eloquence brought us together in harmony and dialogue; he was supposed to be not just smart, but wise and capable. In all these aspects, the professor in chief has failed – and as his failures have increased, so have his inclinations toward anti-Constitutional authoritarianism…
There is a marked frustration in the president’s lectures of the American people, an undercurrent that has only grown over the course of his tenure. At first he was frustrated with politicians in Washington not listening to him. Now he seems more frustrated with the American people for not listening, either. But they have taken a lesson from these lectures over the past seven years that is now very clear, and that is fueling the Trump phenomenon – the lesson that we were wrong about Obama, just as he is wrong about us.
The leftward pressure on the Overton Window has been relentless, with conservatives reduced to applying herculean effort to simply maintain the cultural and political status quo. Yes, the Tea Party has nudged Republicans just a bit to the right, but it’s a sign of the success of the Left that a relatively unchanged GOP can be labeled as ever more extreme and “reactionary.” And few realities show this leftist success better than the fact that the Window now enables expressions of overt leftist hatred and bigotry — against Christians, against conservatives, against whites, and often against Jews.
Then along came Donald Trump. On key issues, he didn’t just move the Overton Window, he smashed it, scattered the shards, and rolled over them with a steamroller. On issues like immigration, national security, and even the manner of political debate itself, there’s no window left. Registration of Muslims? On the table. Bans on Muslims entering the country? On the table. Mass deportation? On the table. Walling off our southern border at Mexico’s expense? On the table. The current GOP front-runner is advocating policies that represent the mirror-image extremism to the Left’s race and identity-soaked politics…
To be clear, this change is occurring both for good and for ill. The shattering of the window reflects the shattering of the American consensus, and the result will likely be deeper polarization, and even less civility, with further strains on the ties that bind our nation together. At the same time, however, the Left’s very success at defining the terms of discourse meant that the price of civility and unity was all too often an acceptance of liberal norms and manners. It meant swallowing liberal pieties and confining your discourse to Left-approved terms. In other words, it often meant surrender.
Trump has dominated the Republican race by channeling the passions of its base more authentically than any other candidate. Trump’s imprint has been felt in ways that go far beyond his mere chances of capturing the nomination, which (I continue to estimate) remain low. Liberals fall into the habit of assuming that the most authentic spokesperson for the party’s base must necessarily be its most likely leader. The vociferous opposition Trump provokes among Republican leaders guarantees the last non-Trump candidate left standing will enjoy their consolidated and enthusiastic support. What Trump has done is to make the Republican party more Trump-like…
Republicans distrust Trump for many reasons, beginning with his short and unconvincing record of loyalty to the party’s well-being. As threatening as they have found Trump’s candidacy, it has the convenient side effect of allowing them to define a general tendency in their party as a personal quirk associated with a buffoonish individual. The antipode of the Democratic belief that Trump is certain to rule the GOP is the Republican conviction that the cancer he represents can be cleanly severed from the body…
Parliamentary systems channel far-right nationalistic movements of the sort Trump is leading into splinter parties. The American winner-take-all system creates two blocs that absorb far-right movements into the mainstream. Rubio, like all the Republican contenders, has promised to endorse Trump if he wins the nomination, a constraint that limits their ability to denounce him. You can’t call a man a fascist while promising to support him if he collects the requisite delegates. Unless Republican elites are willing to actually cleave the GOP in two — and they have displayed no such inclination — they are going to live with the reality that they are part of an entity that is substantially, if not entirely, a party of Trump.