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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Democratic Candidates Challenge GOP to Repudiate Trump’s Bigotry

Republicans are sweating bullets when asked to repudiate Donald Trumps bigotry toward Muslims and Mexicans, and so far have only provided limp criticism of Trump’s call. But voters who want to uphold America’s best values about tolerance and brotherhood can take some comfort that one party, at least, refuses to give Trump’s bigotry an easy pass, as evidenced by recent statements from Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.
Hillary Clinton has just posted a strong statement against Donald Trump’s bigotry and his GOP rivals weak response on her campaign web page:

Donald Trump has made a name for himself in this election by trafficking in prejudice and paranoia. Now he says he wants to stop all Muslims from entering the United States. It’s a shameful idea. It’s also dangerous. At a time when America should be doing everything we can to fight radical jihadists, Mr. Trump is supplying them with new propaganda. He’s playing right into their hands.
Now some Republican candidates are saying that Donald Trump’s latest comments have gone too far. But the truth is, many GOP candidates have also said extreme things about Muslims. Their language may be more veiled than Mr. Trump’s, but their ideas aren’t so different.
Ben Carson says that a Muslim shouldn’t be president. Marco Rubio compares Muslims to members of the Nazi Party and refuses to rule out monitoring and closing of mosques. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz have suggested that we implement a religious test for Syrian refugees–one that only Christians would pass. Chris Christie says not even 3-year-old Syrian orphans should be let in. And they insist on using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”–in fact, they criticize anyone who says anything else–even though it drives the exact narrative the jihadists want to advance: that we’re at war with an entire religion.
When you take a step back and see what the Republican field as a whole says about Muslims–not just one or two candidates for President, but nearly all of them–it’s hard to take seriously their attempts to distance themselves from Mr. Trump. He’s just articulating the logical conclusion of what the rest of them have been saying. As Mr. Trump said in an interview this morning, “They condemn practically everything I say, and then they always come to my side.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders has also made his contempt for Trump’s bigotry clear, as noted by John Wagner at Post Politics:

“What somebody like a Trump is trying to do is to divide us up,” Sanders told host Jimmy Fallon. “A few months ago, we were supposed to hate Mexicans. He thinks they’re all criminals or rapists. Now we’re supposed to hate Muslims. And that kind of crap is not going to work in the United States of America.”
…”Throughout history, you’ve had demagogues trying to divert attention away from the real issues,” Sanders said. “This country today faces some enormous problems. You know, we have a middle class that is disappearing. We have almost the wealth and income going to the top 1 percent. We have climate change. We have a corrupt campaign finance system.”
“I think what the American people understand is, given the problems we face, we’ve got to stand together, come together and create a decent life for all of our people and stop the scapegoating of one group or another,” Sanders said.

Former Maryland Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was equally-strong in condemning Trump’s fear-mongering, reports Maryalice Parks at abcnews.com:

“Let me ask you this. Who is next? Catholics? Trade unionists? Artists? We’ve seen this road before, and it does not lead to a good place,” he said.
“Panic and political opportunism are a toxic mix — a mix that can often precede fascism or the plunging of our republic into a security state,” O’Malley added. The audience jeered and booed at his references to Trump.
After the speech, reporters pressed O’Malley on whether he thought Trump himself was a fascist. O’Malley would not say so explicitly, but said the language Trump uses is similar.
“When he pushes things like registries and ID cards based on things like religion, I do believe that is the sort of appeal that historically has often preceded fascism,” he said. “We should not think that we are so superior as a nation that we cannot ourselves fall victim to those sorts of appeals.”

Clinton added,

He’s also taking aim at our values. Our country was founded by people fleeing religious persecution. The notion that here, people are free to practice their faith, whatever it is, is one of America’s most cherished principles…Nearly 3 million Americans are Muslims. They’re our family, our friends, our neighbors, and co-workers. They serve in the military, save lives as doctors and nurses, and serve our communities as police officers, firefighters, teachers, and civic leaders. They’re patriots–proud Americans, just like the rest of us. They deserve better than this.”

Clinton called on Trump’s fellow Republican candidates to come forward and speak out against hate-mongering and scapegoating: “Now is the time for all of us–especially Republican leaders–to stand up to hateful, dangerous words and deeds.”
Given the GOP candidates’ sorry record thus far, it could take a while.

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