Sunday, July 5, 2015

Trump is a demagogue by definition

The sudden rise of Donald Trump in the polls because of his remarks about undocumented immigrants (“ rapists”, “criminals” and “drug dealers” )  is more than disturbing.  He is by definition a demagogue because he appeals to a dark corner of American culture: prejudice and racism.  If we need a leader of our nation, we need one that appeals to our better nature, unifies the nation, and inspires us to promote  to the world  our national motto “e pluribus unum”, out of many, one.  Trump trumpets “e pluribus, pluribus”.
There are a variety of definitions of a demagogue, depending on which dictionary is searched. In ancient Greece it meant a leader of the people, but in current culture, it is defined as  “A politician who seeks to win and hold office by appeals to mass prejudice .Demagogues often use lies and distortion”  (American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy) or “a political agitator who appeals with crude oratory to the prejudice and passions of the mob”  (Collins English Dictionary) .   By those definitions Trump fits the profile.
Compromises were made at our very founding of the United States to accommodate the Southern slave holders. It took a  bloody civil war to end slavery. But  the Charleston massacre of church goers by a white supremacist who used the Confederate rebel battle flag as an symbol of  his hate filled  identity began to gel Southern opinion  that it was time  to take down that flag. Its original meaning had been hijacked by those defying the civil rights movement. It is in the midst of that controversy Trump raised his prejudiced voice.
Trump has a history of riding the wave of prejudice.  In the last presidential campaign, which he sat out, he used his media celebrity bully pulpit to become the voice of birtherism,  that President Obama was a Kenyan and for that reason  he should be removed.   After the release of the Obama original birth certificate, still 14 to 16 percent of the GOP still echoes  the” lies and distortions”, a little more than Trump is polling now (12%).
Is Trump also racist? Racism is a subset of prejudice, according to psychologists and common definitions. defines racism as“ the doctrine that one's own racialgroup is superior or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others. Trump more than made the connection in his blanket characterization of Hispanic undocumented as rapists and criminals. However, Hispanics here for generations and with legal status  take offense of  such sentiments personally  and many have undocumented family members.
  Those sneering at the reaction criticizing Trump attribute it   to pressure to be “politically correct”. They  are missing important points. The GOP knows from their own analysis of why they lost the last election, that to win future ones, then must get around 40% of the Hispanic vote and hyping anti immigrant sentiment is bad politics.  The private sector also understands that for practical reasons they cannot alienate the Hispanic market (15% of the total; 22% of millennials).  It is not just a matter of PC. It is also bad for business. But “ from many,  one” is an American ideal and for that reason above all we should support those who support it.

 A version of this appeared in the Sky Hi Daily News July 10, 2015
Sen. Lindsey Graham called Trump a demagogue July 12, too,
Wall Street Journal also tagged Trump July 20 in an editorial as a demagogue, too:
and Rick Peryy said likewise on July 22

And if you ever wonder if racism, birtherism and kindred spirits, and ani immigrants were not factors in some quarters, read

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