Perhaps I am a "commie, nigger loving faggot" to use the type of terminology so favored at Donald Trump rallies, but I find the normalization and often outright validation of racists and white supremacist by Trump and the larger Republican Party both disgusting and frightening. The hatred expressed and on open display, of course, is not reserved to blacks or Hispanics. It ultimately extends to every American who doesn't view those who believe differently or look different to be subhuman and a threat to white conservative Christian privilege. Just ask the 15 year old white girl in Wisconsin who was assaulted and pepper sprayed by Trump supporters. In my years in the Republican Party I am confident that racists were present in the party, but they in general remained hidden in the fringes and tended to be avoided by respectable Republicans (they would never have been invited to a Republican Women's luncheon). Now, Donald Trump has made these self-centered, hate-filled elements of the GOP mainstream. Indeed, if one isn't a racists, white supremacist or right wing Christian extremists, one truly no longer has a place in Trump's GOP. Conservative Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson bemoan this reality. Here are excerpts:
Once upon a time, I thought the repudiation of white supremacists was the easiest layup in U.S. politics. Not for the Trump campaign.
Asked recently whether he considered former KKK leader David Duke deplorable, Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence said he was “not in the name-calling business.” Earlier this year, Donald Trump was posed a similar question and claimed, incredibly and repeatedly, “I don’t know anything about David Duke.” In a particularly revealing campaign moment, Trump was asked to repudiate the anti-Semitic death threats made by some of his followers against a reporter. “I don’t have a message to the fans,” Trump said.
The fans, no doubt, regard this as the gotcha game of a politically correct press. Even if this is true, an initial reluctance to condemn some of the very worst people in U.S. politics conveys a message. Several years ago, researchers developed an Implicit Association Test — a sort of computerized “blink test” measuring how subjects associate positive and negative words with people of different races. The immediate reaction of a politician to the KKK is a kind of political blink test. The right response is revulsion. And there has generally been a Grand Wizard exception to the prohibition on name-calling.
For some of us, this raises the hardest moral and emotional issue of the current campaign. The Republican nominee came to prominence feeding fears of Mexicans, migrants and Muslims. He refuses to engage in the normal moral and political hygiene of repudiating extremism. . . . . [Trump supporters] are willing to tolerate a level of prejudice that should be morally unacceptable in a presidential candidate.
Why is this such a problem? Because racial prejudice is not one problem among many in American history. It is the sin that nearly destroyed us. It is a special category of wrong. It is not sufficient to say: I agree with Trump on 90 percent of the issues . . . . [The] systematic religious discrimination, forced expulsion, war crimes, the demonization of refugees and the general dehumanization of the other. These matters are foundational.
History has little sympathy for those who supported Stephen Douglas for his views on tariff policy or internal improvements while playing down his belief that the rights of minorities should be determined by the majority.
A refusal to aggressively confront a racially tinged extremism has been taken as a source of validation by white nationalists. They feel emboldened. Duke reports being “overjoyed” that Trump has embraced “most of the issues that I’ve championed for years.” No presidential candidate is responsible for the views of all their supporters. But at least since the 1960s, conservative leaders have felt a responsibility to actively oppose and discredit those elements of the right that identify Americanism with ethnic purity and spin conspiracy theories of Semitic control. . . . . The current vacuum of such leadership at the top of the Republican ticket is taken as a cultural signal by both the perpetrators and objects of prejudice.