Friday, November 06, 2015

Why Carson and Trump Are Not Going Away

As a former Republican activist years ago, I often lament the insane asylum that the Republican Party has become.  No better proof of the party's descent into insanity exists than the continued support shown for Donald Trump and Ben Carson in polls of Republican voters.  Today's GOP base is terrified about the demographic and social changes overtaking the country and long for the bad old days of the 1950's and view anyone deemed other - read non-white, non-heterosexual, and/or non-far right Christian as a threat to themselves, their fairy tale religious beliefs, and their warped version of of what western civilization should be.  Trump and Carson more than most others in the GOP clown card have read this mood and open insanity (and racism in the case of Trump) and are riding  it to the top of the polls.  A column in the Washington Post looks at why neither of these highly undesirable candidates are going away any time soon.  Here are excerpts:
Why haven’t Donald Trump and Ben Carson faded away? Because they’re saying what much of the Republican Party base wants to hear on such emotional issues as immigration, gun rights and opposition to President Obama.

Trump and Carson are also fortunate to be outsiders at a time when the GOP is in chaos and the party establishment is discredited in the eyes of many voters. And the two improbable leaders in the race for the presidential nomination are compelling characters — Trump the brash and blustery billionaire, Carson the gentle and pious man of medicine.

According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Carson is at 24.8 percent and Trump at 24.6 percent — a dead heat.   And they are lapping the field. Marco Rubio is a distant third at 11 percent, which is well below where he stood in May. And poor Jeb Bush, with his not-so-shiny new campaign slogan — “Jeb Can Fix It” — has slid all the way to 5.8 percent.

Trump pledged to do two things: Deport the estimated 11 million men, women and children living here without papers; and build a “great, great wall” along the 2,000-mile southern border, with the Mexican government paying for its construction. Critics immediately pointed out that neither is remotely feasible, let alone wise. Yet Trump has never wavered. In speeches, interviews and debates, he still promises mass deportation and a wall. 

Why? Because he knows that illegal immigration is a galvanizing issue for some in the GOP base. A Pew Research Center survey in September found that 73 percent of Republicans “favor building a fence along the entire Mexican border.” Pew also found that 32 percent — a third of the party — opposed any kind of legal status for undocumented immigrants.

[N]o one can get to the right of Trump on immigration. If this is an issue you really care about, and you feel betrayed by the way establishment Republicans have handled it in the past, Trump is your guy. Even if he can’t do all the things he promises, maybe he’ll do something .

Similarly, Carson has gone where others fear to tread on the issue of gun rights. A Pew Research Center survey last year found that 76 percent of Republicans believed it is more important to “protect the right of Americans to own guns” than to “control gun ownership.” . . . Carson outflanked the field when he opined that gun control laws imposed in Nazi Germany in 1938 enabled the Holocaust. This aligns nicely with the tea party argument that Americans must be armed in case a tyrant comes to power and has to be overthrown.

Majorities of Republicans do not favor deporting 11 million people, reject all gun control legislation or believe Obama is a psychopathic slave master. But enough do hold such views to make it unlikely that the Trump and Carson campaigns will collapse of their own weight. The outsiders look to be settling in for a long stay.

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