As I have traveled around the world in recent weeks, I am repeatedly asked two questions: Is it conceivable that Donald Trump could win the US presidency? And how did his candidacy get this far in the first place?
As for the first question, though political forecasting is even more difficult than economic forecasting, the odds are strongly in favor of Hillary Clinton. Still, the closeness of the race (at least until very recently) has been a mystery: Clinton is one of the most qualified and well prepared presidential candidates that the United States has had, while Trump is one of the least qualified and worst prepared. Moreover, Trump’s campaign has survived behavior by him that would have ended a candidate’s chances in the past.
So why would Americans be playing Russian roulette (for that is what even a one-in-six chance of a Trump victory means)? Those outside the US want to know the answer, because the outcome affects them, too, though they have no influence over it.
And that brings us to the second question: why did the US Republican Party nominate a candidate that even its leaders rejected?
Obviously, many factors helped Trump beat 16 Republican primary challengers to get this far. Personalities matter, and some people do seem to warm to Trump’s reality-TV persona.
But several underlying factors also appear to have contributed to the closeness of the race. For starters, many Americans are economically worse off than they were a quarter-century ago. The median income of full-time male employees is lower than it was 42 years ago, and it is increasingly difficult for those with limited education to get a full-time job that pays decent wages.
Indeed, real (inflation-adjusted) wages at the bottom of the income distribution are roughly where they were 60 years ago. So it is no surprise that Trump finds a large, receptive audience when he says the state of the economy is rotten. But Trump is wrong both about the diagnosis and the prescription. The US economy as a whole has done well for the last six decades: GDP has increased nearly six-fold. But the fruitsof that growth have gone to a relatively few at the top – people like Trump, owing partly to massive tax cuts that he would extend and deepen.
At the same time, reforms that political leaders promised would ensure prosperity for all – such as trade and financial liberalization – have not delivered. Far from it. And those whose standard of living has stagnated or declined have reached a simple conclusion: America’s political leaders either didn’t know what they were talking about or were lying (or both).
Trump wants to blame all of America’s problems on trade and immigration. He’s wrong. The US would have faced deindustrialization even without freer trade: global employment in manufacturing has been declining, with productivity gains exceeding demand growth.
Where the trade agreements failed, it was not because the US was outsmarted by its trading partners; it was because the US trade agenda was shaped by corporate interests. America’s companies have done well, and it is the Republicans who have blocked efforts to ensure that Americans made worse off by trade agreements would share the benefits.
Thus, many Americans feel buffeted by forces outside their control, leading to outcomes that are distinctly unfair. Long-standing assumptions – that America is a land of opportunity and that each generation will be better off than the last – have been called into question. The global financial crisis may have represented a turning point for many voters: their government saved the rich bankers who had brought the US to the brink of ruin, while seemingly doing almost nothing for the millions of ordinary Americans who lost their jobs and homes. The system not only produced unfair results, but seemed rigged to do so.
Support for Trump is based, at least partly, on the widespread anger stemming from that loss of trust in government. But Trump’s proposed policies would make a bad situation much worse. Surely, another dose of trickle-down economics of the kind he promises, with tax cuts aimed almost entirely at rich Americans and corporations, would produce results no better than the last time they were tried.
In fact, launching a trade war with China, Mexico, and other US trading partners, as Trump promises, would make all Americans poorer and create new impediments to the global cooperation needed to address critical global problems like the Islamic State, global terrorism, and climate change. Using money that could be invested in technology, education, or infrastructure to build a wall between the US and Mexico is a twofer in terms of wasting resources.
There are two messages US political elites should be hearing. The simplistic neo-liberal market-fundamentalist theories that have shaped so much economic policy during the last four decades are badly misleading, with GDP growth coming at the price of soaring inequality.Trickle-down economics hasn’t and won’t work. Markets don’t exist in a vacuum. The Thatcher-Reagan “revolution,” which rewrote the rules and restructured markets for the benefit of those at the top, succeeded all too well in increasing inequality, but utterly failed in its mission to increase growth.
This leads to the second message: we need to rewrite the rules of the economy once again, this time to ensure that ordinary citizens benefit. Politicians in the US and elsewhere who ignore this lesson will be held accountable. Change entails risk. But the Trump phenomenon – and more than a few similar political developments in Europe – has revealed the far greater risks entailed by failing to heed this message: societies divided, democracies undermined, and economies weakened.
The more this debate continued, the more we saw how little Donald J. Trump knows. As he did in the first debate, he is never able to speak in specifics. He thinks that if he blurts out key words and insults, that will be enough to reach undecided voters. Instead, he is speaking only to his base, making them froth with even more hatred. A debate is designed to allow us to learn more about the candidates. Tonight we’ve learned or been reminded that Mr. Trump doesn’t know how American governance works — assuming that alone, as one senator, Hillary Clinton could impose her will upon the entire Congress and the Republican president at the time.
He is unfamiliar with where America’s tax rate stands in a global context. He has no understanding of what it would take to ensure that all Americans can receive health care without a federal mandate. He has no understanding of international relations and the travesty that is taking place in Syria or what the word “humanitarian” means. The list goes on, and on. It is crystal clear that a Trump presidency would lead both the United States and the rest of the world into a dystopia the likes of which even the darkest of novelists cannot fathom.
Hillary Clinton is dealing with a unique challenge — having to stay sharp with an incompetent opponent. She managed to remain on message throughout the debate. She offered several specifics while always clearly demarcating the difference between her and Mr. Trump. She demonstrated grace under pressure. And in the end, when asked to say something positive about her opponent, she reminded us of just how much she outclasses Mr. Trump as a political candidate. She complimented his children despite how easy and satisfying it would have been to say the truth — that no, there is nothing commendable about Donald Trump.
Roxane Gay is an associate professor at Purdue University, the author of “Bad Feminist” and the forthcoming “Hunger,” and a contributing opinion writer.
Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the debate ten minutes ago (as I begin writing) because she showed that, at last, someone knows how to stand up to a macho bully. She talked; he interrupted. She persisted; he went on interrupting. In this fashion, she dominated. She affirmed; he complained. Eventually an aura emanated from her side of the stage. It signified self-confidence. She banged her biggest drum on the topic of NATO’s and America’s leadership in world affairs. “Our word is good,” she said about the United States and its treaties—which is to say, she spoke for America. Then again, she herself made the point about her domination when she responded to his accusations about her stamina. She cited certain things she has done—her world tours as Secretary of State, her ability to withstand eleven hours of questioning from the House committee on Benghazi. And she said that, when he has done anything similar, “he can talk to me about stamina.” That was the powerful line. The tough guy at Hofstra University was Hillary Clinton.
Toughness has been the issue all along in this campaign, and it has been Trump who insisted on making it so. Exactly why he has had a success in making this the issue is not entirely clear to me. Maybe it is because of a revulsion on some people’s part to President Barack Obama and his personal style—a revulsion not only because Obama is black but also because he is professorial and cerebral, unlike, say, his predecessor, George W. Bush. In any case, Trump with his rude behavior and outrageous remarks throughout the campaign has thrown down a challenge to one presumably tough character after another, to require everyone to respond. And no one has shown an ability to do so.
Trump said unforgiveable things to Jeb Bush about the Bush family and even about Jeb’s wife, and Jeb remained painfully courteous and placid. Trump’s insults of John McCain were preposterous; and McCain responded by endorsing Trump. Marco Rubio endorsed Trump. Paul Ryan endorsed Trump. The president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, having listened to Trump insult Mexico and the Mexican immigrants, responded by greeting him as if no insults at all had been said (to which Trump responded by returning to his insults later in the day). The only person to come under Trump’s insults who seemed to respond halfway admirably was Ted Cruz—and yet, in the end, Cruz, too, fell to his knees and endorsed Trump.
Why has this been so exciting to Trump’s supporters? Surely it has been because everyone has recognized that Professor Obama is on his way out, and the ultimate battle was always going to be the Battle of the Sexes—the battle between macho masculinity in the old-fashioned street-corner style, which is Trump’s, and the modern era that, having already allowed Obama to become president, is preparing the way, at last, for a woman.The purpose of Trump’s campaign until now has been to show that he is tougher than all of the men in the campaign, and therefore to show that he alone is capable of triumphing at the showdown.
But just now was the showdown, and she was tougher. She even looked like she knew it, too—Hillary smiling as if she were enjoying herself at one moment or another, Trump interrupting yet again to complain about how he was treated. She was tougher without being grotesque—tougher because she knew how to control herself, how to be humorous without going too far, how to be more disciplined than him in her responses. She was tougher because she knew how to speak for the United States.
I do not know why the male v. female issue should be so much alive in the United States, when the world long ago underwent the spectacle ofMargaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, and when Angela Merkel has for many years now been the most powerful person in Europe—even apart from the world’s experiences in observing Golda Meir in Israel and Michelle Bachelet in Chile and many other women leaders. But, for whatever reason, in America the male v. female issue has remained, in fact, alive. The election has been turning on this issue from the start, which is why Trump had his successes in out-machoing Jeb Bush and John McCain and everyone else. He was the Great Male Hope. And one hour ago—time has been passing—Hillary Clinton brought him down. At least, for the moment.
To read more of Paul Berman’s political and cultural analyses in Tablet magazine, click here.
Paul Berman writes about politics and literature for various magazines. He is the author of A Tale of Two Utopias, Terror and Liberalism, Power and the Idealists, and The Flight of the Intellectuals.
In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year. A comparison like that would be an empty exercise in a race where one candidate — our choice, Hillary Clinton — has a record of service and a raft of pragmatic ideas, and the other, Donald Trump, discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway. (We will explain in a subsequent editorial why we believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.)
But this endorsement would also be an empty exercise if it merely affirmed the choice of Clinton supporters. We’re aiming instead to persuade those of you who are hesitating to vote for Mrs. Clinton — because you are reluctant to vote for a Democrat, or for another Clinton, or for a candidate who might appear, on the surface, not to offer change from an establishment that seems indifferent and a political system that seems broken.
Running down the other guy won’t suffice to make that argument. The best case for Hillary Clinton cannot be, and is not, that she isn’t Donald Trump.
The best case is, instead, about the challenges this country faces, and Mrs. Clinton’s capacity to rise to them.
The next president will take office with bigoted, tribalist movements and their leaders on the march. In the Middle East and across Asia, in Russia and Eastern Europe, even in Britain and the United States, war, terrorism and the pressures of globalization are eroding democratic values, fraying alliances and challenging the ideals of tolerance and charity.
The 2016 campaign has brought to the surface the despair and rage of poor and middle-class Americans who say their government has done little to ease the burdens that recession, technological change, foreign competition and war have heaped on their families.
Over 40 years in public life, Hillary Clinton has studied these forces and weighed responses to these problems. Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience, toughness and courage over a career of almost continuous public service, often as the first or only woman in the arena. Mrs. Clinton’s work has been defined more by incremental successes than by moments of transformational change. As a candidate, she has struggled to step back from a pointillist collection of policy proposals to reveal the full pattern of her record. That is a weakness of her campaign, and a perplexing one, for the pattern is clear. It shows a determined leader intent on creating opportunity for struggling Americans at a time of economic upheaval and on ensuring that the United States remains a force for good in an often brutal world.
Similarly, Mrs. Clinton’s occasional missteps, combined with attacks on her trustworthiness, have distorted perceptions of her character. She is one of the most tenacious politicians of her generation, whose willingness to study and correct course is rare in an age of unyielding partisanship. As first lady, she rebounded from professional setbacks and personal trials with astounding resilience. Over eight years in the Senate and four as secretary of state, she built a reputation for grit and bipartisan collaboration. She displayed a command of policy and diplomatic nuance and an ability to listen to constituents and colleagues that are all too exceptional in Washington.
Mrs. Clinton’s record of service to children, women and families has spanned her adult life. One of her boldest acts as first lady was her 1995 speech in Beijing declaring that women’s rights are human rights. After a failed attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system, she threw her support behind legislation to establish the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which now covers more than eight million lower-income young people. This year, she rallied mothers of gun-violence victims to join her in demanding comprehensive background checks for gun buyers and tighter reins on gun sales.
After opposing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants during the 2008 campaign, she now vows to push for comprehensive immigration legislation as president and to use executive power to protect law-abiding undocumented people from deportation and cruel detention. Some may dismiss her shift as opportunistic, but we credit her for arriving at the right position.
Mrs. Clinton and her team have produced detailed proposals on crime, policing and race relations, debt-free college and small-business incentives, climate change and affordable broadband. Most of these proposals would benefit from further elaboration on how to pay for them, beyond taxing the wealthiest Americans. They would also depend on passage by Congress.
That means that, to enact her agenda, Mrs. Clinton would need to find common ground with a destabilized Republican Party, whose unifying goal in Congress would be to discredit her. Despite her political scars, she has shown an unusual capacity to reach across the aisle.
When Mrs. Clinton was sworn in as a senator from New York in 2001, Republican leaders warned their caucus not to do anything that might make her look good. Yet as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she earned the respect of Republicans like Senator John McCain with her determination to master intricate military matters.
Her most lasting achievements as a senator include a federal fund for long-term health monitoring of 9/11 first responders, an expansion of military benefits to cover reservists and the National Guard, and a law requiring drug companies to improve the safety of their medications for children.
Below the radar, she fought for money for farmers, hospitals, small businesses and environmental projects. Her vote in favor of the Iraq war is a black mark, but to her credit, she has explained her thinking rather than trying to rewrite that history.
As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton was charged with repairing American credibility after eight years of the Bush administration’s unilateralism. She bears a share of the responsibility for the Obama administration’s foreign-policy failings, notably in Libya. But her achievements are substantial. She led efforts to strengthen sanctions against Iran, which eventually pushed it to the table for talks over its nuclear program, and in 2012, she helped negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
Mrs. Clinton led efforts to renew diplomatic relations with Myanmar, persuading its junta to adopt political reforms. She helped promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an important trade counterweight to China and a key component of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia. Her election-year reversal on that pact has confused some of her supporters, but her underlying commitment to bolstering trade along with workers’ rights is not in doubt. Mrs. Clinton’s attempt to reset relations with Russia, though far from successful, was a sensible effort to improve interactions with a rivalrous nuclear power.
Mrs. Clinton has shown herself to be a realist who believes America cannot simply withdraw behind oceans and walls, but must engage confidently in the world to protect its interests and be true to its values, which include helping others escape poverty and oppression.
Mrs. Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, governed during what now looks like an optimistic and even gentle era. The end of the Cold War and the advance of technology and trade appeared to be awakening the world’s possibilities rather than its demons. Many in the news media, and in the country, and in that administration, were distracted by the scandal du jour — Mr. Clinton’s impeachment — during the very period in which a terrorist threat was growing. We are now living in a world darkened by the realization of that threat and its many consequences.
Mrs. Clinton’s service spans both eras, and she has learned hard lessons from the three presidents she has studied up close. She has also made her own share of mistakes. She has evinced a lamentable penchant for secrecy and made a poor decision to rely on a private email server while at the State Department. That decision deserved scrutiny, and it’s had it. Now, considered alongside the real challenges that will occupy the next president, that email server, which has consumed so much of this campaign, looks like a matter for the help desk. And, viewed against those challenges, Mr. Trump shrinks to his true small-screen, reality-show proportions, as we’ll argue in detail on Monday.
Through war and recession, Americans born since 9/11 have had to grow up fast, and they deserve a grown-up president. A lifetime’s commitment to solving problems in the real world qualifies Hillary Clinton for this job, and the country should put her to work.
That sounds good, right? Especially after all it took to pull out of the Bush recession. During the month Bush left office, 818,000 Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment increased to 10 percent before President Obama’s stimulus programs started ratcheting it down to the current 4.9 percent. Now, wages are beginning to rise again. It seems like an event that Ronald Reagan might call morning in America. But not the current Republican nominee. Trump says, “This country is a hellhole, and we’re going down fast.”
To hoist America up out of that bogus hellhole, Trump proposes the same tired-and-untrue tax- and regulation-cutting formula that Bush did.The one that actually did drop the country into a hellhole – the Wall Street collapse, massive foreclosures and high unemployment.
Trump offered yet another tax plan last week – the third of his campaign. This one, just like Bush’s, lavishes tax cuts on the rich. He would hack the 35 percent business tax rate to 15 percent. He would eliminate the estate tax paid only by the nation’s richest 0.2 percent. So, basically, Trump would cut taxes for himself – a 10 billionaire.
In Trump’s previous tax plan, low-income people, those in the lowest taxbracket, would have paid 10 percent, but now Trump makes them pay more. They’ll have to cough up 12 percent.
At the same time, Trump said, he’d eliminate all that pesky government regulation that’s getting in the way of business doing whatever it wants. So, for example, he’d abolish that annoying regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s the one that just fined Wells Fargo $100 million, part of a total of $185 million in penalties, for issuing credit cards and opening accounts without customers’ consent, sham accounts that customers learned about only after they started accumulating fees and damaging credit. Republicans like Trump have tried to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the day Democrats created it.
By cutting taxes on the rich and letting businesses run roughshod over consumers, Trump claims he would create 25 million jobs over a decade. This is Reagan and Bush trickle-down economics. It worked great for the rich. They got richer and richer. It never worked for the rest. The rest always do better when there’s a Democrat in the White House, as there is now. The Census report issued last week showing progress on wages is testament to that. But there’s more. Far more.
Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found in 2013 that since World War II, the economy performed significantly better under Democratic presidents, regardless of the measurement used. For example, Democratic presidents average 4.35 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Under Republicans, it was 2.54 percent.
Democratic presidents presided over higher stock market returns and corporate profits, greater compensation growth and productivity increases.
Economist Steven Stoft analyzed 72 years of jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, during which Democrats controlled the White House for 36 years and Republicans for 36 years. He found that 58 million jobs were created under Democrats and 26 million under Republicans. That means Democratic presidents created more than twice as many jobs.
And here’s another noteworthy fact as Trump runs around claiming he’s going to bring manufacturing back, even though he manufactures his own signature suits and ties and shirts offshore in places like China and Mexico and Bangladesh: Democrats create manufacturing jobs; Republicans destroy them.
Bloomberg news service analyzed data from the past eight decades and found manufacturing jobs increased under each of the seven Democrats and decreased under the six Republican presidents.
Even as employment expanded, manufacturing jobs declined under Republican presidents. The largest losses occurred under Reagan and the two Bushes – an average of 9 percent.
Republicans are bad for jobs. They’re bad for manufacturing. They’re bad for the GDP in general. Trump’s 25 million job promise? Malarkey.
Americans should reject Trump’s Republican trickle-down promises that have done nothing for workers in the past but swipe their cash and flood it up in torrents to billionaires like Trump.
Americans who want a job, a raise, improved GDP, more American manufacturing, better health insurance – just improved security in general – should look to the Democrats. They’ve got a long track record of actually delivering on those promises.
Leo W. Gerard is president of the United Steelworkers union. President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. Follow him on Twitter @USWBlogger.
As word spread of Hillary Clinton’s characterization of half of Donald Trump’s supporters in her in a September 9 speech, the right-wing outrage machine went into overdrive. Half of the Repubican standard-bearer’s followers, Clinton said, were “a basket of deplorables,”while the rest were simply people who felt let down by the government and were desperate for change. With the help of mainstream media, focus turned to the “deplorables” part of her comments. The Trump campaign texted supporters a link to a video ad that mischaracterized Clinton’s remarks. In response to the right’s fury, Clinton gamely stated that maybe she shouldn’t have said “half.”
Truth is, we don’t really know what percentage of Trump’s current crop of supporters belong in the “deplorables” basket, but what we do know is this: There are a goodly number of public figures and leaders of odious white-supremacist organizations who love them some Trump, and Trump has either embraced them or declined to disavow them. Here we list some of the biggest eggs in the deplorables basket.
1. Stephen K. Bannon: When Trump hired Bannon, then the chief executive of Breitbart News, as his campaign CEO in August, you couldn’t ask for a clearer sign that the GOP standard-bearer was staking a potential victory on igniting the racist resentments of the right-leaning faction of the electorate. During an event in Cleveland the week of the Republican National Convention, Bannon boasted to journalist Sarah Posner that since he took the reins at Breitbart News, the site had become “the platform for the alt-right.”
The alt-right, or alternative right, is a loose affiliation of groups and publications that advance a white nationalist or white supremacistideology, often characterizing the more established conservative movement as being weak or “cuckholded.” Bannon has written and directed a number of films designed to frighten viewers into thinking their culture is being extinguished, such as Torchbearer, his latest project with Citizens United. That film features horrific scenes of violence, and stars Phil Robertson, the patriarch of “Duck Dynasty,” a reality television show that was temporarily suspended after GQ published an interview in which Robertson made anti-gay comments, and said blacks were all happy and singing “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare.”
2. Richard Spencer: President of the innocuous-sounding National Policy Institute, Spencer, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), advocates for an Aryan homeland for the supposedly dispossessed white race and calls for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to halt the “deconstruction” of European culture. He’s one of the leading figures of the white nationalist “alt-right” that Trump has courted. At a press conference Saturday, Spencer said of Trump, “Certainly we have been, you could say, riding his coattails, there’s been more interest in us because we’re generally pro-Trump, because we’re inspired by him and things like that.”
Even in all his vulgarity and I would never deny him, this is what we want in a leader. This is someone who can make the future. So I think that is the way I would define our love of Trump, is that he seems to be willing to go there, he seems to be willing to confront people. And that is very different from the cuckold.
3. Pamela Geller: A New Yorker with an Ayn Randfetish, Geller wandered around the right for a while before she found her calling: rallying the forces of hatred in opposition to an Islamic community center that was being developed in lower Manhattan in the early aughts. Together with Spencer, Geller took over the group, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), using it as a platform for opposing the Cordoba House development and spewing hatred against Muslims, even falsely suggesting they practiced bestiality, according to the SPLC. She and Spencer falsely described the planned community center as a “victory mosque” created to celebrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Eating pork and depicting the Prophet Muhammad are both forbidden to practitioners of the Muslim faith. Yet Geller combined the two proscriptions in a cartoon on her website depicting the prophet with the face of a pig, according to SPLC, which lists SIOA as a hate group.
In Cleveland, the week of the 2016 RNC, Geller was a featured speaker at an event sponsored by the group Gays for Trump, which was hosted by Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart News.
4. Milo Yiannapoulos: Described by Peter Montgomery of People for the American Way as the alt-right’s gay enfant terrible,Yiannapoulos, the technology editor of Breitbart News, has become semi-famous simply for being an awful person. He was banned from Twitter for his racist dogging of the actor Leslie Jones, and he is known for his anti-Muslim invective.
Yiannapoulos likes to play his gay identity for laughs, often in the service of mocking Muslims. At an “America First” rally in Cleveland co-hosted by radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that took place the first day of the Republican National Convention, Montgomery reports, Yiannapoulos said: “Die on your feet or live on your knees. Well, I do live on my knees, but that’s all right. That’s all right. As long as I’m not facing Mecca, I guess I’m all right with you guys.”
5. Jared Taylor: Editor of the “racialist” American Renaissance magazine, Taylor is an unabashed Trump supporter. He even has a strategy suggestion for Donald Trump, as he told the Washington Post’s David Weigel:
[Taylor] said that Trump should “concentrate on his natural constituency, which is white people,” suggesting that winning 65 percent of the white vote would overwhelm any Democratic gains with minorities.
Watching Trump’s attacks on non-white immigrants and his courtship of the alt right—of which Taylor is a part—it would be safe to deduce that Trump and/or his advisers have been working that very strategy for a while now.
In an August 29 appearance on “The Diane Rehm Show” on NPR, Taylor discussedhis opposition to Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights act, which bars private businesses that serve the public from racially discriminating against their customers. “[I]f I am a private club, a private business, I should have the right to discriminate for good reasons, bad reasons or no reasons at all,” Taylor said. “It’s part of the essential freedom of making choices as a human being.”
During the same segment, Taylor explained his rationale for ranking racial groups differently:
“Among the many positions held by the alt-right, we reject the notion that race is some sort of sociological optical illusion. Race is a biological fact, whether we wish to recognize that or not, and we completely reject the idea that all races are exactly equal and equivalent and in effect interchangeable.”
6. Alex Jones: The radio host and conspiracy theorist is an anti-government ranter, seeing every terrorist attack as a “false flag” event that was actually conducted by the government. In 2014, Dave Niewert reported that Jones was pushing the narrative that President Obama and the media were in cahoots trying to foment a race war.
When Republicans converged on Cleveland for their convention, Jones headlined an “America First” rally that featured a number of groups with the words “for Trump” in their name: Bikers for Trump, Gun Owners for Trump, Gays for Trump. He complained that his constitutional rights were abridged when he couldn’t get permits for several of his efforts, including the small planes that were flying over the city trailing “Hillary for Prison” banners. It was, of course, all a conspiracy.
Jones also contended that Jared Loughner, the gunman who, in January 2011, shot and critically wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six in Tucson, was actually part of a government plot. Jones contends that the 9/11 attacks were part of “an inside job” by the government. And before Trump got around to it, Jones accused Raphael Cruz, father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) as being part of the plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
Trump appeared on Jones’ InfoWars radio program in December, praising Jones for his “amazing reputation,” and promising not to let him down.
7. Roger Stone: Even Roger Stone probably thinks he’s deplorable. A famous Republican operative and dirty trickster, Stone is perhaps most famous for having organized what became known as the “Brooks Brothers riot” in 2000, at the Miami-Dade election board, where votes were being recounted in the Bush v. Gore presidential election whose outcome was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.
It was Stone who, during the 2008 presidential campaign, took to Fox News to advance the false narrative that a tape existed of Michelle Obama referring to white people as “whiteys.”
In 2015, he was an official member of the Trump campaign, but later resigned to run a pro-Trump PAC. However, he remains close to the campaign. At the “America First” rally in Cleveland, he apologized for his tardiness, offering the excuse that he had been delayed because he was meeting with the Trump campaign team.
8. Roger Ailes: If you’ve been reading Gabriel Sherman’s outstanding reporting for New York magazine on the scandal that forced Ailes out of Fox News, you know just how despicable he is. After former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson accused Ailes of sexual harassment, other women came forward, including one who said Ailes had videotaped her when they had sex with the threat of using the tape against her should she cause him any trouble. (Fox has since settled with Carlson for a reported $20 million.) Sherman revealed that Ailes also illicitly acquired the phone records of journalists who had been critical of Fox News.
Ruport Murdoch, chair of Fox’s parent company, News Corporatin, is said to have been unhappy that Ailes was using Fox to support the Trump campaign. Now that Ailes is out of Fox, guess who the campaign’s latest high-profile deplorable adviser is? Roger Ailes.
9. Troy Newman: The president of Operation Rescuejumped aboard the Trump train this week. An anti-choice extremist, Newman even co-authored a book with a would-be domestic terrorist, Cheryl Sullenberger, who in 1988 was sentenced to three years in federal prison for conspiring to blow up an abortion clinic. In that 2003 book, Newman and Sullenberger argue, according to People for the American Way, “that the government has a responsibility to execute abortion providers.”
10. Ann Coulter: Where does one begin with the big, steaming pile of deplorable that is Ann Coulter? Her demonization of LGBT people at the 2006 Values Voter Summit? Her 2007 use of the word “faggot” from the stage of a major conservative conference? Her use of the word “raghead” to describe Muslims? Her creation of the false narrative that undocumented Mexican immigrants are purveyors of violent crimes and thieves of American jobs? How about her assertion that abortion clinic workers murdered by zealots “had a procedure performed on them with a rifle.” Gentle reader, I’ll leave it for you to decide.
Coulter has hitched her fading star to the Trump train, having released in August her latest spittoon of venom encased between the covers of In Trump We Trust: More fun, though, is watching her bomb of a performance at the Comedy Central roast of Rob Lowe, as comics and celebrities on the dais take her down.
11. Mike Pence: The Indiana governor and Trump running-mate is a favorite of the Koch brothers’ ground-organizing group, Americans for Prosperity. In March, Pence signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, even prohibiting women from aborting a fetus because of a major defect or disability. He’s also something of a right-wing hero for his crusade against gun control. If all that isn’t deplorable enough for you, consider Pence’s response to the endorsement his ticket received from former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke. Twice asked if he would describe Duke as “deplorable,” Pence demurred, saying he isn’t “in the name-calling business.”Because Trump has disavowed Duke’s support (albeit petulantly) and Pence has oh-so-politely said he doesn’t accept Duke’s support, I have not included the odious, disgusting, despicable, DEPLORABLE David Duke on this list. Pence may have a hard time calling him such, though, because it’s hard to refute Duke when he says Trump has “embrace[d] most of the issues that I’ve championed for years.” Duke added: “My slogan remains ‘America first.’” Funny thing: Donald Trump uses that slogan as well.
12. Donald Trump, Jr.:The candidate’s oldest son, as Right Wing Watchtermed it, “has got a white supremacist problem.” Most recently, as the campaign tried to make hay of Hillary Clinton’s remarks, Junior posted a meme on Instagram featuring the tagline, “The Deplorables,” featuring his father, his brother Eric, and a number of his father’s surrogates and associates, emulating the movie poster for The Expendables, about a band of merceneries. Also included in the lineup was the Trump version of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that has been appropriated by white nationalists as a sort of mascot. (The Trump version of Pepe sports a cartoon rendering of Trump Senior’s trademark hairdo.)
On Thursday, Junior compared the treatment Republicans receive from the media with that European Jews received at the hands of the Nazis.Speaking with host Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, the chip off the old block complained that media had “built [Hillary Clinton] up,” even overlooking what he said was the Democratic National Committee’s attempt to get Bernie Sanders out of the nomination contest. “If Republicans were doing that,” Donald Trump Jr. said, “they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now.”
In March, [Donald Trump, Jr.] appeared on a radio show with James Edwards, host of the white supremacist radio show Political Cesspool.
Less than two weeks ago, he retweeted a prominent white supremacist. And that wasn’t even the first time he’s done so: Trump Jr. once retweeted a white supremacist’s false claim that a Trump
supporter pictured giving the Nazi salute was actually a Bernie Sanders fan in disguise.
13. The Man Himself, Donald J. Trump: You really don’t have time to read in one article all of the things that make Trump deplorable. Suffice it to say, all of the above and more. If you don’t believe me, check out this MTV compilation of racist statements, actually made by Donald Trump and interpreted by an actor.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet’s senior Washington editor, and a weekly columnist for The American Prospect. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.
Time was when a presidential candidate who played footsie with segregationists and white supremacists would have banished to the fringes of the American political scene. But Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has changed all that.
Oh sure, there have been plenty of codes telegraphed to the anti-black base of the GOP’s southern flank: Ronald Reagan’s choice of Philadelphia, Mississippi, as the place to make a “states’ rights” speech in his 1980 presidential campaign; Richard Nixon’s southern strategy and “Silent Majority” framing. But after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, expressions of outright racism were frowned upon in presidential politics. And articulations of misogyny were generally doled out in the form of withering condescension.
I don’t need to recount for you Trump’s friendliness with the alt-right, the white nationalist movement that was given a platform at Breitbart News by Stephen K. Bannon, the man Trump hired as his campaign CEO. You don’t need to take my word for it; Bannon has boasted of this fact. And you surely know of Trump’s numerous retweets of posts and memes from white supremacist websites. And who can forget all of the lovely things he’s said about women, calling them fat pigs and demeaning them for having menstrual periods?
Just yesterday, Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, declined for a second time to say that former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke was “deplorable,” stating that he isn’t “in the name-calling business.” Isn’t it enough, Pence asked, that he and Trump have disavowed Duke’s endorsement?
On Friday, Donald Trump appeared before evangelical Christians assembled at the Values Voter Summit, an annual confab convened by FRC Action, the political arm of the Family Research Council. The conference exhibit hall featured the booths of such co-sponsors as Tradition, Family and Property, a paleo-Catholic cult whose founder described the Spanish Inquisition as the church’s most glorious moment, and the conspiracy-theorist and segregationist John Birch Society, which William F. Buckley thought he had managed to purge from the conservative movement in 1962. This was the first time the JBS appeared in the Values Voter hall of sponsors. It could be said that the Trump candidacy helped pave the way, what with his embrace of the conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones, and his numerous winks to white nationalist extremists.
The following day, FRC President Tony Perkins, who has endorsed Trump, defended the alt-right when I asked him about the movement at a press conference. Its existence, he seemed to say, was the fault of President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, for having “snuffed out” the voices of people who disagree with the administration’s policies.
To lay all of this at Trump’s feet would be to give him too much credit. As I’ve argued before, the misogynist, racist, nativist, anti-LGBT right wing that took over the GOP in 1980—of which Perkins himself is evidence—has much to answer for, not least of all, the rise of Donald Trump as the party’s standard-bearer. Trump may not have been the first choice of right-wing leaders, but they created the conditions that cleared his path to the nomination, and most have lined up behind him since he won it.
But mainstream media are also complicit in this normalization of hatred, allowing it to masquerade in the guise political positions. For decades, when reporting on the Christian right, for example, media have treated it as a religious movement, barely mentioning—if at all—the roots of movement positions in the segregationist backlash of the South. Instead, media executives allowed themselves to be cowed by the right wing’s outrage machine, every time it cranked up its conveyor belt of allegations of the anti-religion bent of reporters.
Today, the same tendency is evident in the false-equivalence reporting prevalent in the degrees to which media cover different stories. Questions about Clinton’s emails demand teams of reporters toiling for months; scandals involving Trump are too often written as one-off reports—so fearful are mainstream editors of fielding an accusation of liberal bias.
In the meantime, a monster has been allowed to grow in our midst. Bannon take an obscure fringe of the right and elevates it to a platform that garners tens of millions of pageviews per month. Trump hires Bannon. Media say, hey, that’s interesting, do one story, and say, “Next?”
Covering the Values Voter Summit this September 9 and 10 was downright depressing. Trump addressed the conference on Friday, and Pence on Saturday—meaning that the conference attendees represent a legitimized constituency of the GOP, as they have for 30 years. The founders of the religious right are passing onto their just rewards. Organizers Paul Weyrich and Howard Phillips died in 2008 and 2013, respectively; Phyllis Schlafly died on September 5 (but not before she took the opportunity to endorse Trump). The movement they founded, however, continues to wreak the havoc of hate on the American political landscape, and the media dare not call it by its name.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet’s senior Washington editor, and a weekly columnist for The American Prospect. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.