Saturday, August 22, 2015

Trump, Alabama and the ghost of George Wallace

Donald Trump continues to play to the racism that has become one of the strongest undercurrents of today's Republican Party.   Not surprisingly, he found a sizable audience in Mobile, Alabama last night, albeit only about half the numbers Trump had boasted about prior to the event.  I lived in Mobile for four years over three decades ago and in many ways the state is more extreme now than it was back then.  I continue to wonder what is being added to the drinking water.  Perhaps the only good news is that Trumps cavalcade of racism drew a smaller crowd than expected.  Perhaps there is still hope for Alabama.  Here are highlights on the spectacle from Politico:

MOBILE, Ala. — It was immigration, not segregation, that brought some 20,000 southerners — far fewer than predicted — out for Donald Trump on Friday night, but the ghost of George Wallace loomed large.

Wallace, an avowed segregationist, was the last presidential candidate to win electoral votes as a third-party candidate. The threat of Trump doing so, propelled by a hardline immigration stance that many have condemned as racist, looms over the Republican Party now as it did over the Democratic Party then, even as the enthusiasm of his following, for once, fell far short of expectations.

Trump also panned birthright citizenship as a bad deal for the U.S., saying, “We’re the only place just about that’s stupid enough to do it.” Trump’s recently released immigration plan calls for ending birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants, which is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, according to the legal consensus, though Trump disputes that point.

Trump invited Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of Congress’s most ardent immigration hardliners who helped the businessman craft his immigration plan, to the podium, where the two embraced.
He also attacked his favorite punching bag, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, on the issue. “ Jeb Bush, ugh,” said Trump, pausing for dramatic effect, before calling the former governor “totally in favor of Common Core, weak on immigration.”

There were also vestiges of Wallace’s Alabama, including on the sample editions of “The First Freedom” newspaper one man handed out to drivers as they entered the parking lot. The paper’s front page included a story about “black-on-white crime in South Carolina” and an editor’s note about German media’s silence about “the actual programs these peaceful ‘neo-nazis’ stand for.”

The vast majority of supporters where white: of over 1,000 people waiting to enter on the east of the Ladd Peebles Stadium at 5 p.m., eight were black.

Marty Hughes, 47, wore a camouflage hat with Confederate flag detailing and said he liked Trump’s stances on immigration and taxes. He called the removal this year of Confederate flags from government property across much of the South “stupidity” and said he didn’t think a President Trump would stand for it.

[T]he city said it expected 40,000 supporters at the rally, but various media outlets estimated that the total was in the ballpark of 15-20,000, leaving the stadium looking less than half full.

No comments: