I try to avoid national politics wherever possible. I mean, I’ll tweet the shit out of a presidential debate (especially the GOP ones), but on the whole, I find our federal government to be just shy of useless. It matters to me – greatly – who is in the White House. I understand the way that agencies work, and the importance of appointment power. Not to mention appointments to courts. But on the whole, the issues that impact our communities most are most directly impacted by local elections and local action.
Instead, we see a clown car where the closest thing to sane voices are getting booted first, and the real clowns are successfully sticking it out. But the frightening part – these clowns, particularly Donald Trump, really aren’t all that funny.
Of course, I do agree with Robert Kagan - Trump's rise is a direct result of actions by the GOP. As stated much more eloquently by Mr. Kagan, the disinterest in governing, disinterest in collaboration and compromise, and huge interest in scoring political points (by doing things like shutting down the government and refusing to fill judicial slots) led us to this point. While we have a Tea Party of the Left, Democrats (to the chagrin of many) have never been willing to be so uncompromising as to get nothing done.
I know, comparing someone to Hitler or the Nazi’s implicates Godwin’s law. To some, this means that I have automatically lost the debate about Trump. But I disagree.
For starters, the rise of Donald Trump is eerily similar to that of Adolph Hitler. Initially seen as a bit of a joke, Mr. Trump has ridden a wave of demagoguery, blatant racism and xenophobia, with a large helping of misogyny, to a position wherein he might actually be successful in his quest to become President.
His promises: ban Muslims from entering the United States; deport millions of hardworking people (who pay taxes for benefits they won’t receive); massive tariffs; building walls; and setting the United States up on an international collision with the rest of the world. Eliminate the ACA, defund Planned Parenthood, and engage with Congress not as a co-equal branch of government, but something that will get in the way of his final solution – and use whipping up people in fear and panic as his tool to undermine our democratic-republic way of governance.
His campaign is an extension of this. Encouraging assaults on people protesting his language, accusing all Muslims of being terrorists, calling Mexicans rapists and murderers, attacking Meghan Kelly in the manner he does. Mr. Trump, with purpose, moves swiftly and bluntly to stamp out any attempt at dissent or questions that are uncomfortable. I suppose this could be chalked up to living in a world of no consequences (considering his and his family's wealth), and applying to lead a Party that is losing its taste for consequences.
I believe Trump is worse than Hitler. With Hitler, we didn’t have the internet, or clear history – particularly the history of the rise of Adolph Hitler. With Trump, we have that forewarning. We have the ability to learn from the past, and avoid going down this dark path. But so many who are participating in the Republican primaries – upwards of 34% - are absolutely OK with a KKK-endorsed candidate. We have every reason to know better, but he's still continuing his march through the GOP.
What’s scarier – if Trump secures the Republican nomination, there is a path to victory for him. While I believe that either Sanders or Clinton could win in November, the hysteria that Trump whips up – particularly among white, male voters – could well be enough to damage our coalition in the Democratic Party.
In 2012, white voters made up 72% of the overall electorate, and went to Romney 59-39%. While I believe Democrats can build on our numbers for other groups (in 2012, we received 93% of the African American vote, 71% of the Hispanic vote, 73% of the Asian vote, and 58% of all others), the belief that Trump will continue to instill in white voters is that it is the people of color that are costing them their ability to see an increase in pay. As we all know, unemployment is down, but wages continue to lag – particularly for middle to low-wage workers. 41% of voters in 2012 made less than $50,000 per year, and went 60-38 Obama, but Obama lost higher income groups. If those higher income groups stay the same or stay home, and our side loses low-wage workers, we’re hosed.
This notion that we should just ignore Trump, or that he is nothing to worry about, is 100% false. The demographics of his supporters mean that November is going to be a fight. And the tenor of his campaign style means we will need to be ready to punch back, and punch back hard. Fact is, sometimes politics is dirty work. When you have an opponent that is going to behave like an adult, and is willing to have substantive policy debates – that’s awesome. We don’t get that with Donald Trump.
Of course, a refrain we hear often: if Trump wins, I’m moving to Canada. I think my friend Linh Thai summed my feelings up perfectly:
I reminded of a line from Ani DiFranco: This may be God’s country, but this is my country, too. I’m not willing to give it up and allow the Fourth Reich to occur where I grew up. I know my country is better than this, and am ready to put in the work necessary to ensure we don’t have to stand in the face of oppression and hatred under President Bush, but instead will be able to call our President – either President Sanders or President Clinton – our ally.