A broken clock is right twice a day, and Saturday night Van Jones was that malfunctioning timepiece. On CNN’s coverage of the South Carolina GOP primary results, he’d had enough of the media’s placating Trump’s antics and the teeming hordes who eat it up.
Jones is absolutely right that the media has “adapt[ed] to the absurdity” of Trump’s campaign. One of the worst ways they’ve done this is by accepting the premise that his popularity is a reaction to the GOP’s failure to enact change or stop Obama over the last 7 years. As Erick Erickson put it six months ago: “The Republican Party created Donald Trump, because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them.”
What a load of hogwash. Here’s why.
Republicans have been campaigning since 2009 on a few major issues: stopping or repealing national healthcare reform, securing the border, protecting gun rights, fighting terrorism, and reducing spending. Trump’s premise is that they have failed on these and other promises.
Have elected Republicans failed on any of these items, and is Trump any better? Let’s see.
Obamacare hasn’t been repealed, but it can’t be without a supermajority in Congress and/or control of the presidency. The border isn’t 100% secured, of course, and Obama has unconstitutionally enacted an executive amnesty program, but illegal immigration is down, and executive amnesty is on hold in court.
Obama has also passed a couple rounds of executive orders on guns, but none of them do much to curtail gun rights, and both gun sales and concealed carry permits are through the roof. Many Republican-led states have also further expanded gun rights with open carry laws and concealed carry reciprocity.
National security and fighting terrorism are largely executive responsibilities, so it would be hard for Republicans to have failed there. And as tragic and shocking as they are, terrorism deaths are so rare as to be statistically insignificant.
Finally, while federal spending is up, the Republican-led Congress has kept it from increasing as much as Obama’s budget requests would like, including the first net reduction in federal spending in decades through sequestration. The deficit has decreased every year since Republicans won back the House of Representatives, and those elected at the state level have been even better at reducing government spending and programs in their states.
More importantly than Republican success on (or lack of power to address) these issues, where does Donald Trump stand on them? I suppose first we have to ask which day it is.
While Trump vows to repeal Obamacare, he supports an alternative national government-funded and mandated healthcare plan. Trump now swears he’s a “Second Amendment guy” but has supported any number of gun regulations in the past, not to mention contributed to Democrats for decades as they tried to restrict those rights.
Trump doesn’t really have a foreign policy or counterterrorism plan, other than to ban Muslims from the country and let Russia deal with Daesh. He also has yet to articulate a small government vision over the last nine months, so he can’t possibly be counted on to reduce spending.
On these issues and others, it becomes clear that Trump’s supporters simply don’t care about his (total lack of) actual ideas and policy. Where it can be argued that Republicans have been less than successful, Trump is either worse or was recently enough to not be trusted. So what’s left?
Blatant xenophobia. Whether it be Mexicans, Muslims, or even the people primarily responsible for his success, our problems are always someone else’s fault, and Trump is going to punish them for it. And brutally.
On Friday as an example of “tough” counterterrorism policy, Trump cited an urban legend about a US general shooting terrorism suspects with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. The presumably largely Christian crowd erupted in thunderous applause, of course. Never mind that the event never took place and Muslims don’t care any more about being shot with swine-tainted bullets than with regular ones.
That anecdote, his tendency to retweet his white supremacists, and the primary focus of Trump’s campaign - the myth of the ongoing criminal alien invasion - should be all the evidence that anyone needs. Trump voters aren’t well-meaning aggrieved conservatives. They’re not enough conservative, and neither is Dear Leader.
Trump voters are largely just racists who’ve been without someone insane enough to explicitly cater to their base desires in a very long time. Their savior has come, only this time he’s not wearing a white hood.