Why Republican Leaders Won’t Condemn Trump

Some agree with him. Many others are cowards. But there's more to it.

This work is in the Public Domain, CC0

It’s frustrating to those of us who long supported the Republican Party that essentially none of its delegation in Congress have been willing to condemn President Trump’s bigotry. Obviously, some outright agree with him and many, like the spineless Lindsey Graham, are simply afraid to risk the outrage of primary voters. But there’s more to it than that.

CNN’s Harry Enten argues “Most moderate GOP voices on immigration were wiped out in the 2018 Democratic wave.”

It would be easy to say the minimal response from Republican lawmakers is because they don’t go after Trump in general. But that ignores Republicans who vocally disagree with him on trade, for example.

We can peg Republican silence (for the most part) on the fact that many Republicans who might be willing to go after Trump on issues related to immigration are no longer in Congress. They either retired, died or were beaten in the 2018 midterm elections.

Last year, I looked at a group of 23 of the most pro-immigration House Republicans. These were lawmakers “who signed onto a discharge position to force a vote on a bill that would have created a [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program] fix,” after Trump terminated DACAthrough an executive order and asked Congress to act.

Of this group of 23, 14 (61%) are no longer in the House, including Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Of those nine remaining, a number have come out against the President. Rep. Will Hurd of Texas called Trump’s tweet “racist.” Rep. John Katko of New York said, “The President’s tweets were wrong.” Another, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, said he was “appalled by the President’s tweets.”

Outside of this group, a low percentage of Republicans commented on the President’s tweets. One of the few was Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, who said they were “racist.” Rogers, like many of that group of 23, has a history of taking more moderate positions on immigration.


Turner’s record is closer to those Republicans in 2018 whose seats are now held by Democrats. Among that group, their average score was a C+. Additionally, eight of the 16 who had a D or worse are no longer serving.
In other words, the House lost a lot of moderate Republican voices on immigration.

We see basically the same pattern when we expand our analysis to the Senate. The elected Republican senators who stepped down, died or were defeated in 2018 tended to be more moderate on immigration. Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi (C+), Bob Corker of Tennessee (C+), Jeff Flake of Arizona (C-), Orrin Hatch of Utah (C), Dean Heller of Nevada (C) and John McCain of Arizona (D) were all below the average Republican senator’s score of a B.

Now, you can obviously critique Trump’s tweets, even if you are hawkish on immigration. Rep. Pete Olson of Texas did so.

For most Republican lawmakers, however, there isn’t much electoral incentive to call out the President. Just three Republican House members in Congress are from districts Trump lost in 2016. That means most of the electoral pressure comes from intraparty (i.e. a primary). Only 11% of Republican voters nationally called Trump racist in a 2018 Quinnipiac University poll. Just 15% of Republicans disapproved of Trump’s job performance on immigration in a June 2019 CNN poll.

Arguably, that’s just cowardice by another name. But it’s also circular: the party leadership is more supportive of Trump because moderates either lost to Trumpists in the 2018 primaries or to Democrats in the 2018 general.

Enten’s colleague Ron Brownstein points to an additional, related factor: “Republicans represent almost none of the places most immigrants live.”

President Donald Trump’s openly racist and xenophobic attacks on four Democratic House women of color, like his threatened immigration enforcement raids in major cities and the sweeping proposed new restrictions on asylum seekers that he announced Monday, underscores his transformation of the Republican Party into a coalition centered on the voters and places in America most hostile to immigration in particular and demographic change in general.

This latest flurry of activity continues the drive by Trump and other Republicans elected mostly from the parts of America least touched by immigration to impose a restrictionist agenda on migration over the nearly undivided opposition of Democrats elected by the areas where most immigrants, both undocumented and legal, actually live. Though greeted without complaint by Republicans in Congress, Trump’s promised raids provoked astoundingly open resistance from the mayors of virtually every large American city, from New York and Los Angeles to Chicago and Houston.


This week’s stark divide on both fronts, coming immediately after battles that also polarized the parties over Trump’s border detention policies and his failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, crystallize how Trump is accelerating a long gestating shift in the axis of American politics from class interests to cultural attitudes.

As I’ve written before, attitudes toward demographic, cultural and economic change have become the central fault line between the parties. Republicans mobilize what I’ve called a “coalition of restoration” centered on older, blue-collar, evangelical and non-urban whites who polls show are uneasy or frightened about the fundamental demographic, cultural and even economic trends reshaping America in the 21st century.

Democrats counter with a competing “coalition of transformation” revolving around the groups — young adults, minorities, singles, secular voters, and college-educated whites, mostly concentrated in large metropolitan areas — who are most comfortable with the change.

“Clearly we’re headed down a path where there is one party for older white Americans and then there’s another party for people of color and immigrants,” says Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican US representative who was defeated last fall in a heavily diverse Miami-area district. “And this is very dangerous. It divides our society in a dangerous way. It paralyzes our political system.”

Both parties have doubled down on appealing to their base, seeing that as more fruitful than courting the mythical moderate voter. While both focus too much for my tastes on identity politics, at least the Democratic version has the virtue of trying to expand the American ideal rather than hew to an outdated vision of it. While both are too intolerant of diverging viewpoints, I prefer an over-eagerness to charge bigotry against those insufficiently woke to, well, bigotry.

The silver lining, perhaps, is that at least some Republican leaders seem to understand that this is all bad for the party.

Over at POLITICO, Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan note that “After a day of silence, many GOP lawmakers harshly criticized the president.” They argue that Trump’s scurrilous attacks on minority Democratic lawmakers came as a shock.

The ambush plunged Trump back into a political crisis with his own party, with no coherent GOP response and little apparent coordination between the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill over how to grapple with Trump’s comments that the liberal lawmakers, all women of color, “go back” to where they came from.

Senate GOP leaders briefly discussed the matter on Monday afternoon in a private meeting as they compared their responses to the tweets, according to two attendees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave no indication of how he plans to respond at his weekly news conference on Tuesday.

That largely left it up to GOP senators and House members to devise their own responses to Trump’s latest firestorm. And so after a day of silence, congressional Republicans began to harshly criticize the president — with some GOP lawmakers decrying his comments as “racist” and calling on him to apologize and delete his tweets.

Monday’s pushback marked some of the strongest condemnations Trump’s received from his party, which began with a trickle and then widened as Trump escalated his attacks in remarks to reporters.

“Yeah, I do,” Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, a member of GOP leadership, said when asked whether Trump’s tweets attacking the House Democrats were racist. “They are American citizens.”

Several additional GOP lawmakers, such as Rep. Mike Turner of -Ohio, called Trump’s comments “racist,” a description rarely used against the president by members of the GOP.

Others wouldn’t go that far, but Republicans were downcast Monday as they moved to respond to the president’s remarks, which Trump refused to back away from. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called Trump’s comments “a mistake, an unforced error” but said he does not “think the president’s a racist,” declining to elaborate.

And Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he would vote to condemn Trump’s tweets if such a measure came before the Senate, adding that straying from the unifying principles of the United States “for political purpose is, in my opinion, a very grave mistake.”

“A lot of people have been using the word [racist]. My own view is, that what was said and what was tweeted was destructive, was demeaning, was disunifying and, frankly, was very wrong,” Romney said. “It’s clearly destructive and it has the potential to being dangerous as well.”

Alas, even that tepid criticism was often tempered with bothsiderism.

Still, much of the congressional GOP is still navigating the episode gingerly — trying to break with Trump’s rhetoric while avoiding blowback from the president. It’s a familiar quandary made more difficult than most of the daily controversies of the Trump presidency given the inflammatory nature of his latest statements.

“It just really, really grates on him that they are beating on the people at the border trying to do the best they can,” said Graham, who largely defended Trump on Monday. “The rhetoric is over the top. But the underlying problem is real.”

As much as I hate it, Trump is the face of my old party. And Graham is its spine.

Hat tip to Taegan Goddard for all three links.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. An Interested Party says:

    And Graham is its spine.

    Not really…rather, he’s its invertebrate…

  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


  3. DrDaveT says:

    I honestly can’t tell any more which Republicans actually share Trump’s disgusting views, which have no principles at all, and which still honestly think America is better off in the long run with tax cuts for the rich, xenophobic immigration policies, and theocratic SCOTUS appointments offsetting the trashing of our alliances, our political norms, our social contract, and the budget.

    Pro tip, you GOP Congressbeings: in the end, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a monster, a sociopath, or a dupe.

  4. KM says:

    As much as I hate it, Trump is the face of my old party. And Graham is its spine.

    Kudos, James. That must have been hard to write. It takes courage to admit that one’s compatriots – former or current – are acting terribly or are even terrible people because humans are afraid of tarred by the same brush. Dogs, fleas and all that. It’s the same logic that prevents Southern folks proud of their heritage from admitting their heritage is soaked in bigotry and hate – if their great-granddaddy did something racist, that makes them look bad. Reflected failure excuses a lot in this world, and people trying to cling to power don’t want to let anything chip away at their tenuous hold.

    Few fail to realize what makes someone truly look terrible is failing to denounce bad things among their own. Closing ranks looks like support, denials and soft language look like excuses. As you noted, there’s no spine to stand up and say “Yeah, you guys suck. I’m ashamed to have been associated with you if you don’t shape up.” Friends aren’t friends if they won’t tell you when you’re being stupid, allies don’t let each other blunder around self-influencing wounds.

    Any non-Trumpkin Republican is coming perilously close to the event horizon if they haven’t already fallen through: side with Trump and all he stands for or keep your morals and sacrifice your hold on political power for a while. Who you are in the dark is now who you are when asked to acknowledge the truth.

  5. Teve says:

    I wonder what Republican identification is down to among young voters. 27%?

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Trump didn’t change the GOP, he revealed it. @James Joyner, Trump understood your former party better than you did. In fact, the people who best understood the GOP, who were most accurate in their assessments, were the most radical Democrats, the very harshest critics.

    It’s been a racist party since at least 1968. Much before that and both parties were guilty. But since then – in other words for your entire political life – the power of the GOP came from the clearly racist ‘southern strategy.’ The GOP didn’t really change, it’s just stopped lying about what it is, what it has been for decades – what people like me have been saying about it for decades. I used to write – right here at OTB – that the GOP could not win elections without appeals to racists and even a few years ago people would call me extreme. And now, I’m not extreme, am I? What used to be denounced as partisanship is now revealed as nothing but factual reporting.

    I’m not taking shots at you, no one gets through life without being fooled, without being disappointed, even betrayed. I’ve confessed before that my first vote was for Nixon. Not even in 1968, but in 1972, when I should have known better. I supported (barely 51/49) the Iraq war because I believed we meant to do serious, long-term nation-building.

    So, I’ve certainly had my share of blind spots and imbecilities.

    But in order to learn and grow we need to see things as they are. And @James, you have been a member of a racist party most of your adult life. When I find myself in similar circumstances, when I realize I’ve lost the plot, gone off the rails, whatever, I am furious with myself. Genuinely furious. Then after I beat myself about the head and shoulders I try to come away having learned something.

    Now I’ll say something nice. The fact that you have repudiated the GOP and openly and repeatedly admitted to error makes you a unicorn in this world, my friend, very, very few people ever admit to error. You’ve done it repeatedly, out in the open air, under no duress but that imposed by your own conscience. We all sin, we don’t all repent, and fewer still try to take the lessons learned and make the world a better place. If there were more of you in the world, it’d be a better place.

  7. Jen says:

    @Teve: Probably that, and if this Pew study holds true, will plummet from there.

  8. grumpy realist says:

    @Jen: I really really wish that people made a better distinction between early Baby Boomers and late Baby Boomers. If cultural historians are trying to create slices of American generations because people in the same cohort basically thought the same, there’s a hell of a lot of difference between early/mid and late Baby Boomers. Those of us in the last chunk were the ones who were growing up as young ‘uns in the light of all the protesting our older brothers and sisters got into. We were the kid our parents clamped back down on because they were so terrified that we’d follow the rebel path of our older brothers and sisters. And all those “seminal experiences” that supposedly left indelible marks on the Baby Boomers? We didn’t have them. We didn’t grow up in the 1950s. We didn’t have Woodstock. We don’t remember the assassination of JFK or MLK because we were still in diapers (well, most of us.) I just dimly remember the Apollo missions and the landing on the Moon.

    (And personally, I hate most Baby Boomers like poison and detest getting thrown in their cohort.)

  9. James Joyner says:

    @grumpy realist:

    We didn’t have Woodstock. We don’t remember the assassination of JFK or MLK because we were still in diapers (well, most of us.) I just dimly remember the Apollo missions and the landing on the Moon.

    Yeah, that’s the problem with the whole “generations” concept. I was born at the tail-end of 1965, so a fairly early Gen-Xer. I have more in common with late Boomers born in 1963 or 1964 than late Xers born in 1979 or 1980. I mean, of course I do.

  10. DrDaveT says:


    if this Pew study holds true

    While the trend is encouraging, the raw numbers in some of those polls are just nutso. 80% of Republicans over the age of 55 think that blacks are not treated any less fairly than whites overall in the US today?? That one could just be self-selection into The Racist Party, but 30% of everybody sees no evidence or is not sure that the Earth is getting warmer??? WTF?

    I keep coming back to America’s total postwar fail on education. Through a combination of religious exceptionalism, regional factionalism, affluenza, jingo patriotism, and deliberate sabotage, we have created a strikingly ignorant adult population — just in time for advances in mass propaganda to take advantage of that.

  11. Blue Galangal says:

    @James Joyner: I think in part this has to do with your birth order as well as the events that shaped your life. I have much less in common with Boomers (early or late) and much more in common with Gen Xers (early or late) and I think it’s because my parents were Boomers (don’t get me started on how parents and children can *share a generation* – not possible! 😀 ) and grew up in that era of limitless possibilities and a sense of entitlement to a better life than their parents had; I grew up in the era of gas rationing and the Reagan recession. These shaped my worldview to a narrower sense of possibilities than the world my parents grew up in. Gen Xers and millennials also have that in common with each other, I believe. But my ex husband, who was born only two years before me, has a Boomer outlook and mindset and much more in common with the Boomers than with the Gen Xers; he was the youngest of 5 children, where I was the oldest of five children. I think all of these things, not just the year you were born, help shape that generational identification.

  12. EddieInCA says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I agree with this almost completely. My first vote was for Reagan in 1980. Subsequently, I voted for Reagan in ’84 and Bush in ’88. My first Democratic vote was for Clinton in 1992 and I’ve never looked back.

    With all due respect for Dr. Joyner, the GOP started to reveal itself openly with Pat Buchanan’s speech in 1992. That was it for me. Literally, that was the last time I voted for the GOP. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was an epiphany. As an American born citizen with immigrant parents, I realized that Buchanan didn’t see me as a “real American”. Shortly thereafter, Pete Wilson came out with Prop 187 in California, and that was another hammer to my psyche.

    The GOP is now what many of us have been saying for decades. We weren’t wrong then (Sorry, Doug. We weren’t.) and we’re not wrong now. There is a (sadly) 35%+ of the USA that are flat out racists. Most of them identify as members of the GOP.

    Also, like Michael R, I give serious kudos to Dr. Joyner for his open and honest struggles with what has become of his former party. I sympathize.

    As I get older, I get more liberal, but I have no patience for some of the bullshit of the far left. At heart, I’m a pragmatist, and I don’t believe in having fights you can’t/won’t win.

  13. Warren Peese says:

    It’s cowardice. Justin Amash is a cautionary tale for Republican members of Congress, and before that it was Sanford, Corker, Flake and Love. If they cross Trump and his racist comments, they’ll pay with their careers in elective office.

  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Dennison Administration has completely surrendered in the Census Question case…another reason he would prefer to be talking about racism. They have agreed to a court order that permanently enjoins them from including the question.

  15. Teve says:

    @Warren Peese: MAGAs on Twitter are telling Amash to “go back to ISIS!”

    Not a joke.

  16. Teve says:


    30% of everybody sees no evidence or is not sure that the Earth is getting warmer??? WTF?

    for fifteen years I’ve helped moderate a biology website that focuses on creationist nutjobs, and I can tell you that virtually every single creationist is also a global warming denier. Most of the arguments are the same. It’s a scam by The Atheists, if you’re a real Christian you know it’s wrong, it’s against the Bible, evil elitist University professors are all lying communists, it can’t be right because the consequences are too horrible,…

  17. Teve says:

    I keep coming back to America’s total postwar fail on education. Through a combination of religious exceptionalism, regional factionalism, affluenza, jingo patriotism, and deliberate sabotage, we have created a strikingly ignorant adult population — just in time for advances in mass propaganda to take advantage of that.

    if you believe there was some kind of educated golden age where all Americans were well informed and logical, I suggest you reconsider.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    Trump’s statement saying four Representatives, US citizens all, should go back where they came from may turn out to be a bridge too far for some people. But David Rothkopf’s tweet series quoted in today’s open thread byTeve bears repeating,

    It’s the racism. But it’s not just the racism. It’s sex crimes. But it’s not just the sex crimes. It’s the concentration camps. But it’s not just the concentration camps. It’s the corruption. But it’s not just the corruption.
    It’s being a traitor. But it’s not just being a traitor. It’s the obstruction of justice but its not just the obstruction …. (and on, and on)

    And the Party stands up to none of it.

    On a more hopeful note Atrios posts a tweet from one b-boy bouiebaisse,

    Everyone also decided to forget that Trump’s popularity has taken its sharpest dips whenever he goes full racist. He dropped to an all-time low of 36.6% approval after C’ville, and dipped again into the 30s after “shithole countries.”

    I recall seeing stories of focus groups that showed Republican voters are terribly afraid of being thought racist. It may be that even Trump can push too far, to a point that some of his supporters can see something they don’t want to be associated with. One may hope. The stereotypical blue collar Trump supporter may never see it, but Dems do seem to be picking off educated suburban Republican voters. Now they need to be shown it’s not just Trump.

  19. Kylopod says:


    and I can tell you that virtually every single creationist is also a global warming denier.

    There are, however, many global warming deniers who aren’t creationists. Global warming denial is essentially a scam of the fossil-fuel industry. Creationists are merely among the marks. There’s nothing in particular in the Bible that would lead to global warming denial; the Bible doesn’t mention it like it does mention 6-day creation, a global flood, etc. But creationists have gotten so wrapped up in right-wing politics and an overall anti-science worldview that it comes with the territory.

  20. Jen says:

    First, apologies, I didn’t mean to derail the thread with mentions of generational categorization, I just found the data on young people’s attitudes about race interesting.


    But creationists have gotten so wrapped up in right-wing politics and an overall anti-science worldview that it comes with the territory.

    I’ve had someone argue to me that belief in science is just another type of religion. The anti-science/religion crowd are deeply concerning to me–it is unsettling to see adult humans outright reject data and proof as just another belief system. It’s even more unsettling when you learn that they are home-schooling their kids, thus ensuring another generation of this type of foolishness.

  21. charon says:


    Also the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy.

    There is not a lot of difference between “because the Bible tells me so” and “because that’s what my team believes” (i.e. what conservative media and conservative politicians say).

    This is one reason the “Inerrant Bible” people are such an easy fit to a GOP that pushes “appeal to authority” relentlessly.

  22. Monala says:

    Off-topic: I keep getting the option to edit the last comment on a given thread here, no matter who made the comment. Does anyone else have this happening?

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    As I noted in another post, this is the mirror image of the problems for the Democrats with the left back in the 6os and 70s and was what triangulation was about by the time that Clinton and Gore and such were starting to make names for themselves. I think it will be harder for the GOP because the Dems only had to tell hippies, grad students, and academics to STFU and sit down. For the GOP it’s gonna be shop owners, business people, people with “real” jobs, and such–you know, actual Americans.

    ETA: @ Monala–I only get to edit mine, and not even that all the time.

  24. the Q says:

    Mr. Reynolds, you wrote many moons ago something I have stolen (perhaps you stole it first).

    You wrote “While most Republicans tend not to be racists, most racists tend to be Republican.”

    I think this depicts the modern GOP perfectly.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Blue Galangal: I think one’s “generation” also depends on your parents’ generation as well…..my parents were older and both did work related to the Manhattan Project, so for me, “the war” has always been WWII, both from the stories they told me and the stories their friends told me. For one of my friends, “the war” was the Korean War, because that’s the war his father ended up fighting in. In some ways I ended up feeling that I was older than he was, even though I was in fact younger….

  26. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: you are correct that not all global warming deniers are creationists, the creationist circle is almost entirely enclosed within the larger global warming denier circle on the Venn diagram. But the Creationist ones do point to biblical pretexts, like the rainbow symbolizing that God would never again wreck of the Earth with floods, and mankind being given dominion over the Earth. I’m not saying it makes a lot of sense I’ve just heard it a hundred times.

    But yes it’s definitely a scam, and the really amazing thing to me is that if you look at documents that have been recovered from literally Exxon itself, their own scientists and executives were privately worried about the problem in the late 70s and early 80s, and decided that if they could just sow enough confusion and doubt among enough suckers, they could keep on selling carbon indefinitely. Right-wing nut jobs who claim to deny global warming are just letting themselves be scammed.

  27. Teve says:

    @the Q: there’s a funny variant of this on The Simpsons:

    “Fox News: not racist, but number one with racists.”

  28. bookdragon says:

    @James Joyner: Same here. I was also born near the end of 1965. Neither really Boomer nor Gen-Xer. I’ve heard our cohort called Xoomers.

  29. Matt says:

    @Jen: Oh man I too have had conversations with people who claimed that science was just a religion itself. They like to call evolution a religion too…

    One of my religious coworkers informed another coworker of mine that global warming is a hoax because it was cold in canada or something. Then he segwayed into the standard “it’s a hoax because climate scientists are making money off it” and stuff…

  30. Teve says:

    @Matt: Exxon earned 20B profit last year on 290B revenue selling carbon.

    On the other side, scientists have known for over a hundred years that carbon dioxide traps heat, a finding that can be verified with the equipment available in a high school chemistry class. and we have approximately eleventeen billion data points showing that the Earth’s average temperature has increased since the industrial revolution.

    Nevertheless, it was barely six months ago an evolution/GW denier tried to refute me by arguing that if carbon dioxide really trapped heat, it wouldn’t get cold at night! And Ms. Dunning and Mr. Kruger locked eyes across the crowded bar, and it was Fate.

  31. MarkedMan says:


    I keep getting the option to edit the last comment on a given thread here

    The POWER!!!

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @bookdragon: Is that pronounced Choomers as in Xi Jin Ping or Zoomers as in xylophone?

  33. Jax says:

    @Jen: That’s no kidding, right there. My brother is a Southern Baptist pastor and they went full homeschool on my nieces. We got together for a family gathering last summer and we were looking at my petrified wood, 3 of my nieces went totally blank in the eyes when I told them it’s millions of years old. “But that’s not possible.”

    Quiver-full, indeed.

  34. Jen says:


    “it’s a hoax because climate scientists are making money off it” and stuff…

    Yes, all of those rich scientists…

  35. An Interested Party says:

    This is how feckless and pathetic Republicans are…they are more offended that the trash in the White House is rightly being called a racist than they are by his racist rant…

  36. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Why why why do Dems continue to waste time framing Trumps actions as racist? The only people that care wont be voting for him anyway.

    The racist label applies by Democrats has become a badge of honor with the Republican base. You aren’t cutting it Libs aren’t calling you racist.

    The racist horse is dead and ready for the glue factory. The game is to label Trump as a persona his base does respond to. These people think in terms of weak and strong. Call Trump what he is..a p#$sy. A weak, sniveling Twitter tough guy that smiles in person…then runs to microphones and twitter to talk s%&t about people. Trump bullies women, scared migrants, and children. Some fearless leader

  37. Scott F. says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Racism needs to be called out always, so I don’t think it’s a waste of time to point out Trump’s racist actions. But, your point is well taken… the way to damage Trump with his base is to point out his cowardice and weakness.

    Both points should be made – each and every time. Trump is a weak, cowardly racist. It just flows off the tongue.

  38. Teve says:

    @Jen: everybody knows if you want to make real money you skip that stupid 2-year MBA and head straight for the 7-year ((followed by posdoc) climatology PhD. 🙂 😀 😛

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Nope. First off, as a member of an ethnic group that was enslaved in Egypt and Babylon before your ancestors had the misfortune of their first encounter with a European, I’d just say that every time and place when we stop talking about anti-semitism, up crops anti-semitism. We’ve often been in the most peril in places where we felt safest. German Jews were the most assimilated of Jews, in one of, if not the most culturally advanced country in Europe. Racism and anti-semitism are like a chronic illness of humans, like malaria. And as with malaria, you don’t stop taking your quinine.

    Second, this isn’t just about Trump or this moment alone, we need to be teaching the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. There are children watching. They need to know what they’re seeing, those are kids who have not yet learned to hate. Also: future voters.

    Third, the alternative to calling out racism is silence. You good with that? A whole country talking about something else, refusing to talk about racism?

    As to its efficacy electorally, our target is not those all the way in the cult, we want the 3 or 4% who are feeling uneasy now. They need to be reminded what’s at stake, and what they will become if they don’t repent.

  40. Sleeping Dog says:

    That error pops up on occasion, it’s a problem with the sites commenting system. It happens to me a few times a month. One of these days I’ll be mischievous… 🙂

  41. DrDaveT says:


    if you believe there was some kind of educated golden age where all Americans were well informed and logical, I suggest you reconsider.

    I believe there could have been a golden age of US education, when we applied our fabulous wealth, cultural aspirations, and scientific acumen to actually educating all Americans. Instead, we let the Conservatives prevent that, and in some cases actively sabotage it, in the names of Religious Freedom and Local Autonomy and Small Government. They are now reaping the crop they sowed, and many of them are somehow startled and unhappy that the crop is toxic.

  42. An Interested Party says:

    Call Trump what he is..a p#$sy. A weak, sniveling Twitter tough guy that smiles in person…then runs to microphones and twitter to talk s%&t about people.

    I bet Kamala can do that…

  43. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As to its efficacy electorally, our target is not those all the way in the cult, we want the 3 or 4% who are feeling uneasy now.

    I agree with your post 100%. I’d just add that it’s important to stay focused on what’s likeliest to reach voters. I think one of Hillary’s biggest mistakes was that she centered her campaign around Trump’s awfulness as a human being, to the point that it distracted from talking about why his policies were destructive to the ordinary voter, or why her own policies were better. A recent study found that 90% of Hillary’s negative ads went after Trump as a person, while only 10% talked about policy.

    The problem with Hillary’s approach is that everybody knows he’s a terrible human being. And yes, I mean “everybody.” Many of his supporters freely admit it, and the rest know it deep down, I’m convinced. I’m not saying we have to stay silent and not call him out on being racist, sexist, and corrupt. Far from it. But we can’t let that be the final message, the ultimate reason to vote Democrat. Voters are more responsive to a message about what’s in it for them than what’s bad about who they’re voting for.

    This isn’t just speculation. According to CNN’s exit polls, 10-15% of Trump voters in states like WI, MI, PA, OH, and AZ supported Democratic candidates for Senate or governor in 2018. In House races more generally, it was 8%. If Trump loses just 8% of his support, he’ll be defeated comfortably. Now, we need to be cautious with these numbers, as I’m sure at least some of those Trump voters who supported Democrats at the state or local level will turn right around and vote for Trump again once he’s back on the ballot. But 2018 did at least show how it’s done. Dems ran on issues–health care was their biggest focus. They weren’t silent about calling out Republican racism (particularly concrete stuff like kids in cages), but it wasn’t the main thing they ran on. Will Trump voters who fear brown people sneaking across the border be receptive to a message about their health care bills piling up? Most won’t, but some will.

    My biggest problem with the recent controversy over Trump’s racist tweets is that it distracts from a discussion over Trump’s policies, including his racist policies toward migrants and refugees at the border. The controversy is catnip for the media, but it’s not something healthy to focus on, because instead of being connected with Trump’s broader agenda, it tends to reduce the problem with Trump to his erratic personal behavior and his tiff with some other politicians who are themselves far from universally beloved. The sad truth is that white voters are in general more afraid of being called racist than they are of actual racism. So when the subject is limited to “Is Trump a racist?” it tends to play into the GOP’s hands.

    Once again, this isn’t an argument for staying silent; it’s an argument for avoiding making the conversation all about who Trump is and staying focused on what Trump does.

  44. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Trump is ridiculous. This is his Achilles heel. Reagan wrecked Carter in their one debate with the line, “There you go again.” Even though it’s my prediction that Trump will avoid any and all debates in 2020, there’s plenty of evidence about how to push his buttons. The Democrats need to find a message that does that, and can be repeated over and over.

  45. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “Yeah, that’s the problem with the whole “generations” concept.”

    Actually, the problem with the whole “generations” concept is that it is totally absurd to believe you can accurately describe tens of millions of individuals simply by slapping a label on a period of several decades during which they were born.

    If any of our commenters here ever posted “geeze, I hate Capricorns, they’re all selfish pigs,” they’d be laughed off the site. But multiple posters feel free to exclaim “I hate Boomers” or sometimes even “I hate millenials.” It’s tiresome, useless bigotry, but somehow even some intelligent people who would scoff at astrology use this as an expression of their own virtue.

  46. michael reynolds says:

    I agree, especially when there are excellent reasons to dislike every generation that has come along.

  47. DrDaveT says:


    I think one of Hillary’s biggest mistakes was that she centered her campaign around Trump’s awfulness as a human being

    To be fair, there was zero modern precedent for a candidate known to be as awful as Trump is who was nevertheless elected. Any of the second five worst things about Trump as a person would have been fatal to any prior candidate.