Wednesday, October 19th, 2016...5:10 pm
Editorial: Trumpism after Trump
It looks at this writing (just prior to the third presidential debate) that Donald J. Trump, the deranged bête noire of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is headed for a crushing defeat.
The recent release by the Washington Post of a 2005 audio recording of the GOP nominee discussing how as a “star” he “can do anything” he wants with women — kiss and grope them without their consent — has caused Trump to plummet in the polls.
On Tuesday, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com put Hillary Clinton’s chance of winning the election at 87.4 percent, to Trump’s 12.6 percent chance.
Editorial: Elections 2016
The race had narrowed precipitously in late September, according to FiveThirtyEight’s number crunchers, after Clinton had enjoyed a huge lead in the polls the previous month.
You might recall that, in August, Trump engaged in one of his notorious Twitter feuds, after he was called out, in a speech at the Democratic National Convention, by Khizr Khan, the father of Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim U.S. Army soldier who died in Iraq, in 2004. Many folks thought it was unseemly of Trump to impugn the reputation of Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, the grieving parents of an American patriot who had given his life heroically in service to this country. Of course, like all bullies, Trump possesses a thin skin; he can dish it out, but he can’t take it.
In my Aug. 12 editorial, I noted that Hillary Clinton was holding a commanding lead in the polls, which, if it held, would result in something like a 1984 Ronald Reagan landslide victory over Minnesota favorite son Walter
I wrote: “Hopefully, Trump will experience a similarly crushing defeat in November. His campaign of anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican bigotry, misogynistic comments, baiting the press, inciting crowds to violence and generally degrading the political atmosphere has already done its damage. The Trump campaign richly deserves to end up in the garbage can of history.”
Really, the Trump presidential campaign is the greatest con job in this nation’s history. And given the varied cast of crooks and incompetents (and some good people) who have ascended to the presidency, that’s quite an accomplishment.
The prospect of a Trump presidency is frightening in its catastrophic potential for this country and for the wider world. Trump has shown himself to be a complete ignoramus in the realm of foreign policy; in truth, nobody knows what he would do in office, given his incessant lying and frequent shifting positions on issues.
The pressing question lately for many political observers is what will happen to the Trump fraction after their hero goes down to ignominious defeat. What will be the future of Trumpism after Trump? The orange-hued bloviator has painted a distorted picture of a dystopian American society, where crime has become epidemic, Islamic terrorists are posing an existential threat to the country’s survival, and Mexican criminals are pouring across the border. Trump has said a lot of things, and “none of it is true,” to quote Hillary Clinton’s offhand comment in the last debate.
In preparation for this issue of the Jewish World, which features an “Elections 2016” special section, I conducted an interview with a knowledgeable observer of national politics, Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minnesota’s Fifth District in Congress.
Ellison was the second member of Congress to endorse Bernie Sanders (after Rep. Raúl Grivalva, Democrat of Arizona, who, with Ellison, co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus). He is now strongly backing Hillary Clinton for president.
And as Minnesotans know, Ellison became the first-ever Muslim member of Congress, following his election in 2006. I know him as a person with a passion for peacemaking, especially in Middle East affairs. He has visited the region many times; most recently in the spring of this year, as part of a J Street-sponsored delegation of activists from the U.S. that included Ambassador Sam Kaplan, his wife, Sylvia, from Minneapolis; and two other members of Congress, Robin Kelly, D-Ill., and Karen Bass, D-Calif.
Getting back to the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, Ellison comments, “Bernie knows and I know, and a lot of people know that we’ve got to support Hillary Clinton. With Hillary Clinton we have a chance to do something about debt-free college, we have a chance to increase the minimum wage, we have a chance to get a good trade deal for Americans; and with Trump we have no possibility of any of that.”
Ellison adds that it’s “not reasonable not to support Hillary Clinton… supporting Donald Trump or not voting at all is putting our country in jeopardy. I believe that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the republic. I really believe that. I think he is an authoritarian, I think he has no respect for the First Amendment, or the second one. He admires people like Vladimir Putin… he’s horrendous.”
Regarding Trump’s bogus claim that he opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, in 2003, and that he would keep this nation out of needless conflict, Ellison says, “I don’t believe that for a second. I think that he would hit countries, he would get us into conflicts, because he has no idea what that even means.”
And on the charge of sexual predation — backed up by Trump’s own words — Ellison comments, “This groping thing, this is no isolated incident — this is his M.O. [modus operandi], this is how he does business. And the Republicans who are now acting all shocked, I’m disappointed in them: what did they think about the kind of guy he was when he said [Fox News anchor] Megyn Kelly had ‘blood coming out of her wherever.’ What did they think? ‘Oh, he’s probably a fine upstanding person, respectful of women.’ Come on!”
Hillary Clinton is “the only viable option here,” Ellison continues. “And she’s not the lesser of two evils; she’s actually a good candidate, very well prepared, a long history of service, demonstrated commitment to young people and families. I’m proud to be supporting her.”
When I mention that Trump has inflicted great harm on society by normalizing bigoted and racist speech, regarding ostensible threats from Muslims and Latinos, Ellison offers his thoughts on a related topic.
He refers to Trump’s December 2015 speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which employed classic stereotypes about Jews and money. The GOP candidate said, “I’m a negotiator like you folks, we are negotiators.” When he talked about renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal, he asked: “Is there anybody that doesn’t renegotiate deals in this room? This room negotiates them — perhaps more than any other room I’ve ever spoken in.”
“And then he had some literature that had a Star of David on it…. He has been [dog-whistling] anti-Semitism. That’s my opinion.”
Ellison adds the fact that Trump feigned ignorance of David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, and had to be prompted to disavow the support of this egregious racist politician. “He’s got a lot of support from neo-Nazis and the Klan, and these people are openly anti-Semitic,” Ellison points out.
On this theme, Jewish World readers can turn back to the Page 1 story, which concerns Trump’s charge, delivered in a speech last week in West Palm Beach, Fla., that “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.”
Trump’s campaign team, @TeamTrump, later tweeted out that key line from the Florida speech, according to JTA.
In response, Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, tweeted: “@TeamTrump should avoid rhetoric and tropes that historically have been used against Jews and still spur #antisemitism. Let’s keep hate out of campaign.”
“Trump did not seem amenable to that kind of advice,” writes JTA’s Ron Kampeas. “If not hate, precisely, he was ready to indulge a willingness to blame a mysterious cabal.”
Trump’s foray into classical anti-Semitic tropes raises a question: How could any Jew support Trump?
How can anybody support Trump?
— Mordecai Specktor / editor [at] ajwnews [dot] com
(American Jewish World, 10.21.16)