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Trump Giving The People What They Want

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Trump Giving The People What They Want

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“You got to give the people what they want.”
—O’Jays

Even by his standards, it was an astounding performance.

Over the course of just two days last weekend, Donald Trump spewed bigotry, venom and absurdity like a sewer pipe, spewed it with such utter disregard for decency and factuality that it was difficult to know what to criticize first.

Shall we condemn him for retweeting a racist graphic on Sunday filled with wildly inaccurate statistics from a nonexistent source (“Whites killed by blacks — 81 percent”)?

Or shall we hammer him for tacitly encouraging violence when an African-American protester was beaten up at a Trump rally in Birmingham on Saturday? “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Trump told Fox “News.”

Shall we blast him for telling ABC on Sunday that he would bring back the thoroughly discredited practice of waterboarding — i.e., torturing — suspected terrorists?

Or shall we lambaste him for claiming — falsely — at the Birmingham rally that “thousands and thousands” of people in Jersey City, New Jersey, applauded the Sept. 11 attacks and reiterating it the next day, telling ABC that “a heavy Arab population … were cheering.”

Trump is a whack-a-mole of the asinine and the repugnant. Or, as a person dubbed “snarkin pie” noted on Twitter: “Basically, Trump is what would happen if the comments section became a human and ran for president.”

Not that that hurts his bid for the GOP nomination. A Washington Post/CNN poll finds Trump with a double-digit lead (32 percent to 22 percent) on his nearest rival, Ben Carson, who is his equal in nonsense, though not in volume. Meantime, establishment candidate Jeb Bush is on life support, mired in single digits.

And the party is panicking. In September, Bobby Jindal called Trump “a madman.” Two weeks ago came reports of an attempt to lure Mitt Romney into the race. Candidate Jim Gilmore and advisers to candidates Bush and Marco Rubio have dubbed Trump a fascist. Trump, complains the dwindling coven of grown-ups on the right, is doing serious damage to the Republican “brand.”

Which he is. But it is difficult to feel sorry for the GOP. After all, it has brought this upon itself.

Keeping the customer satisfied, giving the people what they want, is the fundament of sound business. More effectively than anyone in recent memory, Trump has transferred that principle to politics. Problem is, it turns out that what a large portion of the Republican faithful wants is racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, the validation of unrealistic fears and the promise of quick fixes to complex problems.

That’s hardly shocking. This is what the party establishment has trained them to want, what it has fed them for years. But it has done so in measured tones and coded language that preserved the fiction of deniability. Trump’s innovation is his increasingly-apparent lack of interest in deniability. Like other great demagogues — George Wallace, Joe McCarthy, Huey Long, Charles Coughlin — his appeal has been in the fact that he is blunt, unfiltered, anti-intellectual, full-throated and unapologetic. And one in three Republicans are eating it up like candy.

Mind you, this is after the so-called 2013 “autopsy” wherein the GOP cautioned itself to turn from its angry, monoracial appeal. Two years later, it doubles down on that appeal instead.

And though candidate Trump would be a disaster for the Republicans, he would also be one for the nation, effectively rendering ours a one-party system. But maybe that’s the wake-up call some of us require to end this dangerous flirtation with extremism.

“You got to give the people what they want,” says an old song. Truth is, sometimes it’s better if you don’t.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.) (c) 2015 THE MIAMI HERALD DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex in Birmingham, Alabama November 21, 2015. REUTERS/Marvin Gentry

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Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a nationally syndicated commentator, journalist, and novelist. Pitts' column for the Miami Herald deals with the intersection between race, politics, and culture, and has won him multiple awards including a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

The highly regarded novel, Freeman (2009), is his most recent book.

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21 Comments

  1. Daniel Max Ketter November 29, 2015

    Tell Mr Trump we need more sanctuary cities for the evacuees. Why not build one here in Colonial Williamsburg? Heck, its just a tourist trap anyways.

    Reply
  2. @HawaiianTater November 29, 2015

    Donald Trump running for president is the best thing that could have possibly happened for the future of our country. He is single-handedly destroying the Republican party and I couldn’t possibly be enjoying it any more than I already am. The only way this could possibly be any better is if he actually gets the GOP nomination. Every day that passes makes that outcome look increasingly more likely. Considering his lead in the polls and the amount of support he has, if the nomination somehow goes to someone else, he’ll just claim the RNC rigged it against him and will run third party. Either way, we have Trump to thank for the GOP having zero chance at taking the WH next year.

    Reply
    1. joe schmo November 29, 2015

      Of course it is because the liberals will implode when he wins. Paybacks are a bitch!

      1. @HawaiianTater November 29, 2015

        LMAO! Thanks, Joe Schmuck. Your stupid always entertains me. “President Trump” hahahahaha!

      2. Insinnergy November 29, 2015

        I’ll be here waiting for you, when all your polls say in 2016 that you’re going to win, Joe… then your party fails spectacularly.

        Your tears will make me very happy.
        I’ll be excited to see what pearls of wisdom you have after that.

      3. SecludedCompound November 30, 2015

        Hahaha! It’s a statistical impossibility for trump to win the general. You realize we love it that he’s leading you people into irrelevance and recognition as the white supremacist party you are, right?

      4. jmprint November 30, 2015

        You are right paybacks are a bitch, so you better stock up on meds, you’re going to need them for your depression.

      5. CrankyToo November 30, 2015

        Many “liberals” are rooting for Trump to win the Republican nomination because that will virtually guarantee that the evangelical segment of the GOP base will stay at home on election day. Can you imagine Christians (even hypo-Christians) turning out to vote for him?

      6. Daniel Jones November 30, 2015

        Oh, Tailgunner, soon you too will end up in the asylum with your namesake, Sen. (censured) McCarthy.

    2. Insinnergy November 29, 2015

      An excellent summary… and I agree.

  3. joe schmo November 29, 2015

    I guess the majority is not part of the liberal agenda? LOL

    Reply
    1. Insinnergy November 29, 2015

      Trump and the previous knuckle-draggers espousing coded racism are leading your party into a disaster.
      I, for one, approve heartily.

    2. SecludedCompound November 30, 2015

      You realize that Trump is winning 35% of a party that represents 40% of voters, correct? How 14% of the electorate makes up a majority in your mind says a lot more about conservatives than it does about liberals.

      1. Paul Bass November 30, 2015

        Joe, and most GOP suffer from innumeracy, they are illiterate with numbers and DO NOT realize that 14% is less than a majority.

        So any argument with ACTUAL numbers in them, he won’t understand.

    3. jmprint November 30, 2015

      No, the majority of idiots are republican, you are right about that. Enjoy your laughter, come March, you will have to pick another clown.

  4. bcarreiro November 30, 2015

    Join the fight against terrorism instead of creating it.

    Reply
  5. bcarreiro November 30, 2015

    What’s so civil about war. ACTS OF KINDNESS COULD BE THE ANSWER.

    Reply
  6. ps0rjl November 30, 2015

    The Republican Party has no one to blame but themselves for this debacle.

    Reply
    1. plc97477 November 30, 2015

      Their worship of wealth is at least partly to blame for their problem.

  7. FT66 November 30, 2015

    I have to say it loudly: “GO TRUMP GO”. This man came with a new different kind of politics: “WINNING BY SUBSTRACTING”. It has been his pattern right from the beginning. I don’t need to mention by substracting the Latinos and.. and.. and…you name it. This was accepted by his Party as no one raised a bit of noise to stop him. Am wondering why do they think he is wrong now and not that time when he entered the race with his bombastic words to Latinos?

    Reply
    1. jmprint November 30, 2015

      Yes I say “GO TRUMP GO”, all the way to hell, where evil people like him can feel right at home.

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