After two white racists urinated on a homeless Latino worker and assaulted him with a metal pole, they fulminated, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”
When Republican presidential candidate Trump was asked about the assault he shrugged his shoulders and coldly responded, “It would be a shame…I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”
This is an incitement to violence and green light to scapegoat immigrants. It’s more than xenophobia, it’s the stench of fascism.
The brutal assault was instigated by Trump’s call to deport all 11 million undocumented workers and their children, including those born in the U.S., citizens protected by the 14th Amendment. “They need to go,” he declared. This was on top of earlier racist statements Trump made against Mexican people.
Once one constitutional right is attacked no right is sacred. Once one community is scapegoated, no one is safe. Once violence is acceptable, our democracy is threatened.
Imagine Trump spewing racist hatred from the White House while his Justice Department looks the other way, or worse, abets; while governmental agencies facilitate corporate plunder and extremists are nominated to the Supreme Court.
Trump is not alone. Irrationality and open racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia pervade this pack of Republican presidential candidates. They are appealing to the absolute worst among the Republican primary voters, whipping up a frenzy of hatred.
Trump’s extremist positions are resonating with a section of voters. “It’s what everyone is feeling but afraid to say,” said one woman who attended a Mobile, Ala. rally. The entire field is now scrambling to match his extremist appeal. Jeb Bush, who once denounced the racist idea of “anchor babies,” has done an about face and embraced it.
With an open declaration that the public discourse shouldn’t be restrained by “political correctness,” anything goes now. That none of the candidates challenged Trump’s openly misogynistic statements in the Republican debate proves it.
And “making America great again” implies the U.S. should make ethnic and racial cleansing official policy by deporting undocumented immigrants and unleashing racist police officers in communities of color.
In their haste to outdo each other, the Republican Party candidates are banking on the appeal to fearful and alienated white male working-class voters influenced by right-wing extremist ideology.
Ironically, Trump’s brainlessness at the Mobile rally was too much even for the right-wing National Review: “Trump stood throughout his pageant in a cocksure fighting pose, breaking his stance only to turn around and bathe in the adulation. His thoughts were meandering, irrational, and wholly self-contradictory; his grasp of reality left much to be desired; his aim was to offer up a firework-laden piece of self-serving performance art, aimed squarely at the unserious and the easily led.”
Much of the corporate media is making a spectacle of this, and some well-meaning people are dismissing it as something that will pass. But we dismiss this as the ranting of ignorant candidates at our peril. Similar mistakes were made with George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, who were packaged as folksy and subsequently did great damage.
To fervently appeal to hatred and turn a blind eye to violence is to open the door to a new political dynamic that once unleashed carries unpredictable consequences. It will influence the Republican primaries and the 2016 general elections. It encourages candidates for U.S. Senate, House and state legislatures to do the same.
Such hateful and irrational ranting didn’t come out of thin air. It is the fruit of over 35 years of right-wing extremism, beginning with the right-wing takeover of the Republican Party during the Reagan presidency, massive concentration of wealth, right-wing talk radio and media, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) takeover of state legislatures, NRA pushing fear to remove all restrictions on gun control, the anti-Muslim frenzy, etc.
Right-wing extremism spawned and sustains racist violence, including the Charleston massacre, violence against transgender people, Tea Party, border vigilantes, the “birthers,” violence against abortion clinics, and voter suppression.
Powerful forces including the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Norman Braman, Diane Hendricks and other plutocrats, support it. Forty of the wealthiest Americans have already spent $60 million bankrolling this hate in the Republican primary.
It serves as another warning of the immense stakes in the 2016 elections, which can deliver a resounding repudiation of these ideas and policies and break the right-wing domination of our democratic institutions.
This right-wing frenzy stands in sharp contrast to the majority public support for unions, taxing the rich, raising the minimum wage, criminal justice reform, action on the climate crisis, marriage equality, expanding Social Security, and new awareness of police crimes and institutional racism.
The labor movement and its allies, #BlackLivesMatters, women, LGTBQ, immigrant rights, environmental, student and other movements, are establishing a different framework for the 2016 elections. And the Democratic candidates are responding with bolder positions.
This is the basis for assembling and inspiring a broad multi-class, multi-racial coalition with labor and the democratic movements at the center, which also must necessarily include the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party. Without this outlook, defeating the hate and division championed by the GOP will not be possible.