Conservative, liberal, and every type of political operative and pundit have commented and strategized for months on how to dethrone billionaire Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP presidential nominees.
They even drug up Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, saying that Trump wouldn’t be good for the party or the nation. That didn’t work.
Trump knocked out 16 GOP competitors, winning enough caucuses, primaries and delegates for the party’s nomination. Teflon Don has defied the political gravity that would have caused other candidates to crash and burn.
He has said terrible things, questioning the objectivity of a Mexican American judge hearing lawsuits against Trump University. He has criminalized Mexican immigrants and insisted on building a wall on the Mexican border and having Mexico pay for it.
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Because of terrorist attacks, Trump wants to bar immigration by Muslims into the U.S. and require Muslims who are here to be registered. That would take the U.S. back to the way it treated Japanese Americans during World War II.
Trump has said horrible things about women, including that those who have abortions should be punished. He later recanted. In addition, he received support from white supremacist David Duke and took way too long to denounce that backing.
But people who are angry, frustrated and anxious about things in the U.S. have grabbed onto Trump’s candidacy as someone who’s finally speaking against political correctness to “tell it like it is.”
His campaign appearances attract protesters, counterprotesters, police, some violence and arrests.
Trump’s campaign reminds me of the “Reception Analysis” in Carlos E. Cortés’ book, “The Children Are Watching: How the Media Teach About Diversity.” He writes about Norman Lear’s weekly TV series, “All in the Family,” which starting in 1971 after the civil rights movement ended depicted Archie Bunker as the show’s antihero — an “equal opportunity bigot.”
Bunker “embodied racism, sexism and just about every other imaginable kind of ‘ism’ and ‘phobia,’” Cortés said. The sitcom’s goal was to show through Bunker’s acts how “comically absurd” bigotry was.
“Lear consciously tried to reduce prejudice — a clear case of a mediamaker using entertainment TV for multicultural pedagogical purposes,” Cortés wrote. But like Trump, who is a master at media manipulation, Lear’s efforts backfired.
Studies of “All in the Family” showed that viewers who already were “highly prejudiced or dogmatic tended to admire Bunker, condone his racial and ethnic slurs and identify with his beliefs.”
So opponents’ criticisms of Trump only strengthens the grip of his supporters to him. They aren’t just low-brow, low-intellect voters.
They are among the people who hate President Barack Obama because he did the unthinkable in 2008 and 2012, becoming the nation’s only African American to win the White House. Obama’s leadership caused people like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to first vow to make Obama a one-term president, and then to insist that Republicans do nothing to back what Obama wanted.
That included giving no hearing to Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this year. That resistance will continue through the end of Obama’s presidency.
That GOP hate is in Trump’s campaign and threatens to be the wave of racism that washes him into the White House. To keep it from happening, Trump opponents will have to develop a new strategy other than just trashing Trump.
Name-calling hasn’t worked. It only makes Trump stronger.