There is an Ivy League grad who has spent most of his life in Manhattan, where he is chauffeured around in limousines. He frequently brags to strangers about his massive personal wealth. In public statements, he has advocated government healthcare, a woman’s right to an abortion, an assault weapons ban, and paying off the national debt by forcing rich people to forfeit 14.25 percent of their total wealth. When the man married his third wife, he invited Bill and Hillary Clinton to the wedding, and he has given many thousands to their political campaigns and their foundation. He’s donated many thousands more that helped elect Democrats to the Senate and the House. And George W. Bush was “maybe the worst president in the history of this country,” the man said in 2008. “He was so incompetent, so bad, so evil.”
On paper, this is not someone you’d expect to excel in the 2016 Republican Party primary. But Donald Trump is excelling. Thanks to his celebrity, a few epic flip-flops, and his willingness to pander to the most xenophobic element of the GOP’s base, the real-estate developer and reality-TV star is polling near the top of the field. While he is unlikely to win the nomination, he may well appear at the presidential debates and continue to tarnish the GOP brand in the eyes of Hispanic voters. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said during his official announcement. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems. And they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
As execrable as those highly misleading beliefs would be if earnestly held, it is arguably worse for a man to disingenuously stoke xenophobia to advance his political prospects.
Thus it is worth noting that, after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, Donald Trump told the website Newsmax that Republicans would continue to lose elections if they came across as mean-spirited and unwelcoming to people of color. Democrats were kind toward illegal immigrants, Trump said, whereas Romney “had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal. It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote. He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.” He added that the GOP needs a comprehensive solution to “this incredible problem that we have with respect to immigration, with respect to people wanting to be wonderful, productive citizens of this country.”