Sorry Mr. Speaker, but at this juncture in the presidential race — and so far into the hate game — your image-cleansing appeal sounds empty.
You’re seven years too late to appeal to sanity and respect in the Republican Party.
The GOP can’t talk like a bigot, act like a bigot, support bigotry — and then, scared of the implications of hate speech and the prospect of losing not only another presidency but congressional seats as well, sound a retreat from that path with a scripted sound-bite on Super Tuesday.
“This party does not prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the Party of Lincoln,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said as a predicted victory in eight of the 11 states holding primaries made the title “Republican nominee Donald Trump” all the more real as of this writing.
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“Today I want to be clear,” Ryan said. “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.”
Too little, too late.
Trump has only put a vulgar face on the party’s now long-standing discriminatory agenda and increasing radicalism since the election of President Barack Obama. A moderate Republican — one that works across the aisle, seeks bipartisan agreement and respects religious freedoms that date to the founding fathers — is a thing of the past.
All of the front-runners, including Miami’s Marco Rubio and Texas’ Ted Cruz, the sons of immigrants, have put on exhaustive anti-immigrant displays to ingratiate themselves with ultra conservatives and evangelicals at every speaking gig that preceded their rise. They were only following the Republican agenda in Washington.
Trump’s wall is the GOP’s wall.
Trump’s initial refusal to condemn former KKK leader David Duke, claiming he hadn’t done enough “research” — in a bid to keep the country’s bigots happy with Super Tuesday on the horizon — is only a reflection of how far the GOP leadership has gone in setting a national tone of disrespect and intolerance.
The party hasn’t led, it has followed and pandered to constituents nostalgic for the days when marriage wasn’t a partnership but a patriarchal order, when a Voting Rights Act didn’t exist, when African Americans couldn’t even dream of voting, much less hold public office.
Before the Trump candidacy, we could have called these types of Republicans a small minority. No longer can we afford to believe that when there’s so much evidence to the contrary. Trump quotes fascist Benito Mussolini, defends doing so, and his supporters like it. Exit polls in South Carolina show Trump won with the support of Republicans who want the undocumented deported immediately and Muslims who aren’t U.S. citizens barred from entering the country. And 20 percent of those who voted for Trump believe that slaves shouldn’t have been freed.
Stalwart Republicans who don’t hold those views are deeply pained by the intolerance, but it’s too late for a rescue. The damage has been done. Trump has claimed wins of double-digit margins. That’s not a minority vote.
The Republican brand of 2016 is what it is — and there’s no savior in sight.