Donald Trump has been soaring for months now, ever since he trademarked the phrase “Make America Great Again.” He’s surged in polls and primaries alike off the blatant fear mongering and intolerant rhetoric that has been the foundation of his campaign since day one. The fact that Trump will likely be the Republican nominee for president is not inherently bad. The idea that he will become nominee because of a culture of fear is.
“All we have to fear is fear itself,” said famous Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That same man went on to put a majority of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. These people were not criminals or spies, they were ordinary people. Above all, they were Americans, and they were interned, isolated without due process.
If someone with the best intentions could sign an executive order to detain an entire demographic, someone that openly proclaims his prejudices could potentially do much worse.
It comes down to the electorate to step back and assess the state of America and find out for themselves if Trump’s ideals are needed. Do we need a wall along the American border, even though the Pew Research Center reports that the unauthorized immigrant population growth rate has stabilized, and the Mexican portion of that population has declined in recent years?
The answer is a resounding no.
His plan to deport 11 million immigrants is as rash and economically unsound as it is patently racist. Not since the terribly-named Operation Wetback in the 1950s, detailed in part in Mai M. Ngai’s “Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America,” has the United States been so consumed by such an unjust fear.
That particular endeavor ended tragically, with more than 80 dead from the heat and with perfectly legal immigrants mistakenly sent back to Mexico. Immigrants were dumped on the shores of Mexico, transported on ships that a congressional investigation likened to the slave ships of the 17th and 18th centuries.
The plan is not feasible and is driven wholly by an irrational fear.
Do we, as Americans allow fear and hate to make judgments for us, we the country that so often claims to uphold the ideals of freedom and equality of all humans? The majority of America would like to say no; however, 35 percent of Republican voters support Trump, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.
Trump’s campaign trail has been a colorful one to say the least, and Americans are proud of a candidate that speaks his mind. Often times Trump speaking his mind is equated with speaking the truth, but in the spirit of Trump himself that’s patently false. According to politifact.com, 78 percent of Trump’s statements are at best mostly false and at worst a pants on fire lie.
When it comes to serious topics like the Ku Klux Klan’s support of Trump’s proposed policies, he dodges the topic claiming ignorance of the group’s members and refuses to acknowledge his role in the incitement of hate.
The KKK, it goes without saying, is an organization founded on fear and hate. Its very existence stands as an insult to the progress that America has made since the end of the Civil War, and Trump’s refusal to immediately condemn them stands as a stark marker of his own lack of conviction. He would rather have votes than have honor.
This is an often overlooked aspect of Trump’s campaign in which he dodges direct questions and redirects to an issue into which he can pump fear. One might also recall instances in which Trump has exploited the underlying racism of some of his supporters, such as when he berated Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish.
Trump’s style of campaigning is based mostly on the use of what many Americans would deem unfit behavior for a president — violent and rash decisions mixed with a unhealthy dose of subtle racism that seem to slip past the average American.
Every member of the Grand Old Party should examine Trump’s tactics on the campaign trail, and denounce his use of fear and loathing as a platform to be America’s commander-in-chief.
The editorial board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.