Friday, June 17, 2016

Trump Is Losing Support


Responding to a question from a reporter Wednesday, Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan said he doesn't plan to vote for Trump. The next day GOP Senator Mark Kirk said that Trump is "too bigoted and racist" for Illinois. Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake went on the radio in Phoenix and called Trump's comments after the Orlando tragedy "beyond the pale" and "disgusting." Ohio Gov. John Kasich sure sounds like he's not able to vote for Trump. I get the feeling an awful lot of Republican elites won't do it in the end, even if they're still too shy about saying so publicly.
Are they going to dutifully follow Trump down this twisted, rapidly descending path to the place where he promises there will be all kinds of winning and “everything is going to be fair” because there’s going to be “total justice”?

Or, like Kasich, are they going to say “enough is enough” and set off in search of higher ground?

...[T]here’s nothing funny about where we are right now. First Trump took credit for his own prescience before the bodies in Orlando could even be counted. Then he reiterated his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States-- a proposal he had walked back because rivals and allies alike rejected it.

In the days since, he’s accused American Muslims of sheltering terrorists and has darkly vowed to keep a closer eye on their places of worship. He’s lied repeatedly about the national origin of the Orlando shooter, who was born in the same New York borough from which Trump himself hails.

He’s banned one of the nation’s premier newspapers, the Washington Post, from covering his campaign events, adding to his growing media enemies list.

...I don’t think Trump is a fascist-- I really don’t. Fascism requires a belief system. All Trump knows is how to read a room and exploit the most powerful emotion lurking in it.

But like a storefront psychic who happens upon a genuine spirit, Trump is now playing with powerful historical currents he really doesn’t seem to understand. I can’t shake from my mind a tweet I saw this week from Jared Yates Sexton, a correspondent for the New Republic, who mingled among the crowd of parents and their children at one of these raucous Trump rallies in North Carolina.

“Overheard: immigrants aren’t people, honey.”

I’m not one to get swept up in the grating hyperbole of our times, but there are moments in history when lines have to be drawn. There are moments by which succeeding generations will judge the moral clarity of leaders, no matter what else those leaders may have achieved in their lives and careers, no matter how rational their reasons for nuance.

History judges harshly the politicians who raised not a finger of objection when Franklin Roosevelt signed off on internment camps for Japanese-Americans. History scorns Joseph McCarthy’s cowering colleagues in the Senate, but it honors the memory of Sen. Millard Tydings, who lost his seat after opposing McCarthy, and the Army lawyer named Joseph Welch, who finally humiliated him.

Kasich is a guy who talks a lot about judgment-- although in his case it usually has more to do with pearly gates than future historians. When I asked him about Trump’s reaction to Orlando, he didn’t bother calibrating.

“Terrible,” he told me. “Terrible. It’s not the way you operate as a leader. Terrible. ‘I told you so’? What’s the magic of that? You know, who doesn’t know we are vulnerable to radical Islam? Everyone knows we are vulnerable to it.

“And then,” Kasich went on, “to somehow insinuate that the president of the United States accepts this or condones this, it’s just outrageous.”

As for American Muslims, Kasich told me: “When they know someone is going to do something to cause violence, they’re going to speak out about it. That’s what I believe.”

I wondered if Trump could win by talking this way.

“I don’t think he can get elected with this rhetoric, no,” Kasich said flatly.

But, once again this year, Kasich is an outlier in his party. More Republicans are thus far following the agonized examples of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who seem to be saying they are bound to support any Republican nominee with human DNA, no matter how many statements they have to cautiously disown.

...[E]vents of the last week have convinced me that history isn’t going their way. We may kindly remember a John Kasich or a Jeb Bush-- guys who had the sense of self-worth to stand up and say they wanted no part of this particular crusade.

The rest will answer for whatever comes of this mess, and depending on the consequences, they may answer to the ages.

And despite his opportunism and demagoguery over the terror attack against the LGBT community in Orlando, Trump's favorable ratings have continued to plummet. A Washington Post poll showed Trump with a startling 70% disapproval rating, The GOP is about to nominate a loose cannon who's viewed favorably by less than a third of Americans. He almost makes Hillary Clinton look popular! In fact, like Hogan, a full third of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Trump. By comparison-- even before the wounds have been worked on with the Bernie supporters-- only 17% of Democrats feel unfavorably towards Hillary.
The survey, conducted Friday through Monday, shows a high level of upheaval within the GOP as Trump trails Clinton by 12 percentage points in the horse race. Among self-described Republicans, 28 percent say they feel unfavorably about their party. Just 4 percent of Democrats say they feel that way.

“You typically see near-universal approval of the party by party members,” Selzer said. “As recently as December of 2014, just 9 percent of Republicans said they were unfavorable toward the Republican Party.”

Sixty percent of likely voters say nominating Trump next month at the party's national convention in Cleveland is bad for the Republican Party. Among likely Republican voters, 27 percent hold that view, while 69 percent say he'll prove good for the party.

...She's perceived as stronger on fighting for the middle class, having the right temperament, being ready to lead on day one in office, getting things done in Washington, being a good role model for children, and possessing the skills needed to conduct foreign policy.

Trump is viewed stronger at knowing what it takes to create jobs, reining in the power of Wall Street, changing the way Washington does business, and combating terrorist threats at home and abroad... She's also viewed as more trustworthy, 43 percent to 37 percent.
Interestingly enough, a brand new CBS News poll-- which shows Hillary beating Trump 43-37%-- most respondents feel Hillary is a better leader on terrorism and national security (50-43%).

Republican elected officials are starting to panic up and down the ticket. Thursday The Hill quoted former Bush press secretary Tony Fratto saying he thinks “the tailspin could be really bad-- historic proportions bad. I think it’ll be a historically bad loss. I’ve said that from the very beginning." Tepidly pro-Trump Tennessee Senator Bob Corker told reporters that that he had been "discouraged by the direction" of Trump’s campaign. "I did not think yesterday’s speech [the one on Monday where Trump came off as generally psychotic] was the type of speech one would give who wants to lead this country through difficult times."

And the Politico gang has been reporting all week on how Trump's problems with the GOP establishment isn't just not healing, it's getting worse. They're claiming that "his campaign’s relationship with the Republican National Committee is increasingly plagued by distrust, power struggles and strategic differences," that Trump has no interest in the RNC's advise and that he appears to be trying to take over the committee without any value-add whatsoever, especially the fundraising aspects. It's not hard to imagine why the RNC is uncomfortable turning that over to a blatant and celebrated crooked operator like Trump, is it?

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At 7:02 AM, Blogger Fiddlin Bill said...

It's a quibble, but I think the best definition of fascism is probably an anecdote from Mussolini. When asked by a reporter what his policy would be if elected, he replied, "Why, to kill you." Fascism is fundamentally about power, not logic. Trump is exactly that, and with his recent assertion that Muslims "can assimilate," he dips his fascism into the vat of Nazism as well. The problem with Jews, said Hitler, was that they "can't assimilate."

At 7:04 AM, Blogger Fiddlin Bill said...

I'd like to fix a typo--Trump has asserted that Muslins can't assimilate. Sorry for the bad proofing before posting.

At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Fascism requires a belief system." I don't agree. I once tried hard in a poli sci ideologies class to track down fascist ideology. There isn't one. It is inherently opportunistic and merely rhetorical. French fascists were more rabidly nationalist than anyone, and especially insofar as their mortal enemies the Germans were concerned. That is, until the Germans took over France. Then they collaborated with the Germans. They're like Texans who loudly proclaim they love America more than anyone, but want to secede from America the next day. I'm with Fiddlin' Bill. There isn't any logic. Except it's not a quibble. Fascists are just the criminal gang that provides a screen between the real ruling class and the citizens of a dead democracy. Trump is a fascist. After all, we already have the corporate state based on military Keynsianism.

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The essential features of fascism:
1) excessive nationalism (as in "exceptionalism")
2) a sense of societal rebirth (as in "make America great again")

I've published here L. Britt's 14 characteristics of a fascist society ... which, if accurate, seems to suggest that the US didn't so much defeat fascism in WWII, but rather subsumed it.

Trump has blown both the GOP cover and that of the sordid truth of this country.

John Puma

At 1:47 AM, Blogger Mf Lehman said...

Yes, John, but in the example of the French fascists I gave above, the "excessive nationalism" was entirely rhetorical: once the Germans were running France, they nuzzled up to their erstwhile worst enemies, the Germans. With the Nazis occupying France, they switched over to hating the British. This pattern was repeated by local fascists throughout Nazi-occupied Europe: they were all comfortable living under German satraps after proclaiming how much they loved Norway, Hungary etc. Societal rebirth is also entirely rhetorical" "Morning in America," as is organicism, "Hitler embodies the will of the German people," etc.

The essence of fascism is that it is opportunistic, faux-populist rhetoric wielded by a gang of criminals to screen the real ruling class from the people in a failed democracy. It has no ideology. That's why Trump can be all over the place and his followers still follow: they are dazzled by the phony rhetorical populism du jour. They are angry because they are getting screwed and some fast-talking fascist helps divert that anger away from the ruling class culprits.


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