The results from “Super Tuesday” are in. Mexican Americans went for Senator Clinton overwhelmingly. Cruz beat Trump, even in Hidalgo County.
Did Cruz’s Hispanic surname help? That was probably irrelevant in the Republican primary. But Trump, a disciple of “unapologetic nativism,” had insulted Mexico, immigrant workers; Jorge Ramos of Univision; and withdrew from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (Julia Preston, Salon, 20 November 2015). So the largest contingent of Hispanics — Mexican Americans — were already aware of his racist attitudes.
More recently, Trump has even excoriated the Latin American Pontiff, Pope Francis. So, many Catholics and most Mexican Americans are justifiably turned off. Eight out of ten Latinos see Trump in an “unfavorable” light, seven out of ten in a “very” unfavorable light (Rafael Romo, CNN, 25 February 2016). Polls change and there is always a 20-something percent who vote for him. This figure is nigh inexplicable, unless we factor in higher incomes and/or self-hating attitudes among some Mexican Americans.
I could not let this campaign season go by without putting my position “out there” regarding the rising fortunes of Donald Trump (and the declining quality of political discourse in the United States). I would not forgive myself if I did not register, for the record, this writer’s disgust for — and warning about — a possible Trump presidency.
If that comes to pass, history will not forgive the fawning mobs and pandering Republican officials who have endorsed Trump. I was (I have checked) one of the first who noted — with my students and here, in print, his unmistakable Mussolini-like posturing. I could understand his Fascist appeal, based on his big business-oriented, wealthy celebrity egomania; viz: the “Apprentice;” his shoddy/shady/bankrupt business “experience” e.g., using Polish immigrant labor (some sources allege some of them were left unpaid by sub-contractors) to build Trump Towers (Linda Qiu, in Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact, 25 February 2016).
One could (and should) go on and on. But for a long time, what eluded me were reasons for the adulation of him by such a large plurality of Republicans. But, now I understand, increasingly well I think, some of those emotions and actions. They are the result of a perfect storm of racism; Bush-induced war; economic crash and resulting misery; Fox TV/Limbaugh Radio; complicity by other media (sell-out from MSNBC); and an appalling lack of appreciation of the value of education; e.g., denial of science, of statistics and ridiculing of credible experts in those areas.
I am advancing here my kindest theory to help us understand the mob’s sycophantic idolizing of Trump. Somehow, in their hearts, if not their heads, Trumpsters know Trump is hollow. At the same time, the mobs, as mean-spirited, as un-critical of a demagogue as they may be, seem to have a deep faith in America that sees them through this process.
That is, they love, need and will, I hope, fight to keep their Social Security and Medicare, even their health care. Whatever their careless actions bring, they will be taken care of. They trust – in unspoken ways – in the resilience of America and the ability of its institutions (Balance of Power; Supreme Court; Critics and Media; the Constitution and Society; even their churches and their religious Hope). Indeed, their faith, ironically, gives them the liberty to be sheep-like followers of Trump, devoid – temporarily we hope – of sound judgement.
There is yet another possible explanation for the hope. General Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA, repeated it in an interview with Bill Maher (“Real Time”, 26 February 2016). Say we are faced with a “President Trump.” Say he gives an illegal, immoral order to water board suspects, even to kill their families. Say he orders an unwarranted nuclear strike. The military might not obey. Hayden demurred on calling it a coup d’etat. Let us hope there are such sane patriots. You might not believe it as a credible hope, coming from a former CIA Director, yet recall General Haig alerted the military to refuse to obey any unhinged orders from Nixon.
Heaven help us from reaching that precarious point. We see the Trump rallies: “reactionary patriotic theatre,” where he offers up the lone Muslim, a protestor or a disabled reporter to the angry crowd for them to harass and expel. And, aren’t we all tired of endless “debates”—what is left to say? They are more like “WWE wrestling bouts” (Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 24 February 2016). No substantive issues explored—mere name-calling spectacles.
We have seen the “reality” of the campaign and some of the responses by the media. We expect political campaigns to be rough (witness our local, south Texas campaigns). They have not reached the depths of this current national presidential campaign. Whom do we blame? The media? Yes, in part. “Evangelicals”? Some, (not all) join Trump because he hates all the people they hate—gays, ethnic minorities, immigrants, women and others who oppose sexism and racism. They — and their charlatan leaders — share much of the blame.
The rise of the role of celebrity in politics (Ronald Reagan, Hollywood endorsements) as a phenomenon shares some of the blame. But the “Trump uprising is first and foremost a Republican and conservative problem.” There might not be so much Trumpism “if George W. Bush’s presidency hadn’t cratered’ (Ross Douthat, 2 February 2016, New York Times). We are left with a “right-wing Caesarist,” oozing an authoritarian style, spewing outrageous promises.
If the nightmare of a Trump presidency should come to pass, I needed to register my opposition here before it happens. For the folks who hate and hinder immigrants and Muslims (and liberals and President Obama and Senator Clinton) it might be useful to recall the famous theologian, Reverend Martin Niemoeller’s warning about the rise of NAZISM:
They first came for the Socialists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me; but there was no one left to speak for me.
Those who remember history are committed to preventing subversion of the Constitution and of America. They are the last bastion now aware of the “writing on the wall.” There are only two parties. One must defend the rest of us from the danger, should the Republican Party embrace Trump. Sane voters must act. They have no choice but to vote Democratic in November. They must overlook flaws in both current candidates and resolve to unify and fortify. Save Mexican Americans or South Texas only? No! God save these entire United States! As President Kennedy once said, “God has no hands but ours to do His will.”