GOP preparing for contested convention

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Donald Trump’s hate rants have an eager audience.

Donald Trump is the predictable outcome of the Republican Party of the past eight years. In Queens, New York, last weekend, Sarker Haque was working in his little store, the Fatima Food Mart, when a man came in and spent a few moments reading the New York Post’s cover story about the mass shooting in San Bernardino. “Right now, we’re getting multiple hate crime reports every single day,” a CAIR spokeswoman Alia Salem told media after windows in a family home in Dallas were smashed by rock throwers two nights running this week. “More than the damage – it’s not the window – it’s the terrifying factor of it,” the homeowner told CBS news. “It is them trying to terrorise us or scare us.Top Republican officials fear that the fight to win the party’s presidential nomination might end in a so-called “brokered convention” for the first time in 60 years.

That was a key takeaway when 29 self-described Trump supporters huddled in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday night to field an array of questions about Trump, the billionaire businessman turned Republican presidential front-runner. FOX news, the National Rifle Association, the Koch brothers — the Republicans have increasingly become captive of far-right institutions and rhetoric.

The kids are scared to go up or down alone.” Also in Texas a group calling itself BAIR, the Bureau of Islamic American Relations, has been organising protests at mosques. With Donald Trump leading an increasingly splintered field, it is possible that no single candidate will go into July’s party convention with a sufficient number of nominating delegates to become the presidential nominee.

Among the participants, support for Trump grew over the hour and a half they answered questions about Trump’s temperament and insults he’s lobbed at rivals and the media, mirroring the pattern of deepening support for him over the life of his candidacy. A substantial portion of the right actually believes that President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim, that global warming is a made-up plot by windmill manufacturers, and that they need to arm themselves because of an imminent coup.

Assuming there was no outright winner after the first ballot at the July 18-21 convention in Cleveland, delegates would be free to vote for any candidate, leading to backroom negotiations and a so-called brokered outcome. After Trump called for barring all Muslims from entry to the United States, the condemnations from his fellow Republican primary contenders and other conservative politicos were swift and unequivocal. Amid uproars over his inflammatory rhetoric — calling Mexicans “rapists,” implying a Fox News reporter was menstruating when she asked tough questions and calling this week for a “total and complete” ban of Muslims entering the country — his standing in the polls strengthened. This used to be a common feature of American politics but there has not been one in more than 60 years when Adlai Stevenson won the Democrat nomination at a brokered convention.

Now, however, it seems as though his latest proposal to bar all Muslims – American citizens or otherwise – is a step too far for high-ranking Republicans, as many were quick to condemn him. Some columnists like David Brooks and Michael Gerson have recently bemoaned the “radicals” in their party, but their protests are too little, too late. Photo: AP Organiser David Wright told local news radio station KTRU, “They [Muslims] build these huge multimillion-dollar mosque complexes, then they buy up 90 per cent of the homes in the area. Chris Christie, Trump’s idea is “a ridiculous position and one that won’t even be productive.” Dick Cheney said the proposal “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.” House Speaker Paul D.

At the start of the night, 10 people said they were at nine or 10, noted David Merritt, managing director of Luntz Global, a political firm led by longtime Republican strategist Frank Luntz, who conducted the focus group. In Richardson, they’ve renamed the residential streets to reflect Islamic culture. “My options are to stay home out of fear, show up there and protest the mosque unarmed like a sitting duck, or we can show up their armed just to defend ourselves and get our message out,” he said. The possibility that the Republican battle for a nominee will extend to the convention was discussed at a dinner on Monday of top party operatives hosted by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. Ryan (Wis.) declared that it was “not what this party stands for” and, “more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.” Ben Carson added, “We do not and would not advocate being selective on one’s religion.” Sen.

What is unsettling though is the manner in which the lead candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination has harnessed and excited that tension to his own political ends. Their political ideology spanned from strongly conservative (seven) to moderately conservative (17) to moderate (four) and who identified as one moderately liberal. Aside from being an impractical, illegal proposal, Trump is sowing hatred towards a religious minority that is seeing a record number of hate crimes perpetrated against them.

Lindsey Graham (S.C.) called Trump “downright dangerous,” and said , “Donald Trump today took xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level.” Consider that in the weeks leading up to Trump’s latest effusion, two of his competitors for the GOP presidential nomination, Bush and Sen. This was the man who had called Mexicans rapists during his campaign launch, who mocked a disabled reporter, sniggered that a female reporter who challenged him had “blood coming out of her wherever.” He sniggered again at news reports that his supporters had assaulted a homeless Hispanic man with a steel pole (“I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. After all, the gamut of Trump’s offensive comments, whether towards women, immigrants, the black community, or Muslims seem to be quite in step with the core demographic of the GOP. Trump tells them that it’s the fault of pointy-headed intellectuals and government officials who are “taking away their freedoms.” Trump provides simplistic solutions to complex problems.

Various scenarios could play out in coming months with the battle evolving into a contest between two or three candidates, with none of them able to gain enough delegates. To me he’s whip-smart, he’s a leader, he’s going to do things other people haven’t done.” Scott Mexic, a businessman from McLean, Virginia, said that despite some of Trump’s ideas, he still believes the business tycoon would make a good commander-in-chief. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Politico has reported that right-wing hate groups including the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi group Stormfront are using Trump’s surge to expand their reach. “Demoralisation has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” said the Stormfront founder Don Black, who reports additional listeners and call volume to talk radio show, Politico reported. Sure, Trump expanded this religious litmus test to all immigrants, rather than just those fleeing for their lives, but in so doing he merely took an existing, Republican-establishment-endorsed proposal and made it a little bigger and flashier.

He rallied conspiracy theorists who believe that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii and is therefore some sort of Kenyan Marxist Manchurian candidate. It’s not clear his rivals have a lot of moral high ground to stand on if their argument is essentially “vote for someone slightly less bigoted than that other really big bigot.” Nor is immigration the only policy issue on which Trump takes flak for being superlatively radical and ridiculous even though he’s only marginally more radical and ridiculous than other Republican candidates.

Ted Cruz – Canada’s worst export, perhaps second only to chrysotile asbestos – has repeatedly refused to condemn Trump’s Muslim ban proposal, saying only that it is not his policy. Trump’s tax proposal would cost the federal government an estimated $12 trillion in revenue over the next decade, according to a analysis from the Tax Foundation.

Moreover, he’s said he saw “thousands of people” cheering in New Jersey as the World Trade Center towers collapsed in the September 11 attacks — a claim debunked as false by local law enforcement and elected officials. Ben Carson, who is running second to Trump in most polls, openly stated on television in September that Americans should not put a Muslim in charge of the country.

Bush pooh-poohed Trump’s plan as lacking in “fiscal responsibility.” But is the $7 trillion hole that Bush’s own plan would blow in the budget (per the Tax Policy Center) really so much more responsible? With less than two months until the first votes are cast in the 2016 nominating contests, Trump still has not ruled out a possible run as an independent should he not secure the Republican nomination. “If (Republicans) don’t treat me as the front-runner … if the playing field is not level, then certainly all options are open,” Trump told CNN on Wednesday.

We witnessed the demise of the party’s principles as year after year of Republican campaigns placated an aging, predominantly white voting base with thinly veiled racism and xenophobia. According to the most recently available data Jeb Bush’s campaign and outside support group have raised in excess of US$100 million and spent about half, mostly in advertising. After years of alienating key voting blocs, such as women, Hispanics and African Americans, the GOP now risks turning off white voters who aren’t flagrant bigots.

Moreover, 14 of the 29 participants said they would back Trump’s third-party run if Senator Ted Cruz of Texas were the GOP nominee and Clinton was at the top of the Democratic ticket. Further two credible polls, Bloomberg and Rasmussen have found that two thirds of Republican-leaning voters support his call to block Muslims from entering the US. Americans have just been so distracted by the carnival-barker craziness of Trump that we’ve been ignoring the slightly less colorful craziness of the other candidates. In fact, despite constant Republican- establishment bellyaching that their party and primary have been hijacked by an unserious candidate, Trump’s campaign has in a way been helpful to the likes of Rubio, Cruz, Christie and Bush. It said that the GOP’s ideological intransigence over social issues, its preferencing of the rich over the poor and its alienation of minorities would make it “increasingly difficult for Republicans to win a presidential election in the near future.” The paper recognised the role that black and Hispanic voters had played in twice electing Barack Obama; and that demographic changes would benefit the Democratic Party even further in years to come.

By comparison, their own far-right, unserious, unreasonable ideas start to look moderate, serious and reasonable, and their own xenophobic rhetoric sounds a little more mannerly. As a result Senator Marco Rubio led the so-called “gang of eight”, a bi-partisan team championing a massive immigration reform bill, one that might have helped the GOP win over Hispanic voters. Not to mention that Trump’s bombast and self-obsession make just about any other politician look grounded, polished and temperamentally tame (no small feat if you’re Chris “sit down and shut up” Christie).

The champions of this section of the party rejected the idea of broadening the base and instead worked to further inflame the racial anxieties of the base in order to draw more of them out. This movement’s greatest victory was in 2013 when a pair of conservative plaintiffs managed to bring a case before the Supreme Court that had a key provision of the Voting Rights Act repealed. Some ban felons from voting once their sentences are served, some seek to prevent polling-day registration, a common organising method for minority churches and community groups.

Because minorities – which have more ineligible citizens among them, such as former felons and resident non-citizens – this simple change would dramatically amplify the power of voters in rural areas at the expense of urban voters, who are more likely to be minorities. One is Ed Pfenninger, a Christian fundamentalist who works as a security guard in Porter, Texas, and operates a YouTube channel on which he articulates his ideas. The investigative magazine Mother Jones sat through hours of his videos to reveal that Pfenninger has described the Catholic Church as “the Mother of Harlots”, said that Jews are “enemies of the cross”, and that God created Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust because he “wanted the Jews back into the Land”.

The other plaintiff is Sue Evenwel, the longtime chair of the Titus County Republican Party and a member of the Texas state Republican Party executive committee, a longtime anti-immigration activist. Yet, at the University of Texas at Austin where some say prohibitions on carrying weapons endanger students, two guns rights groups are staging on Saturday what one organiser called a “fake mass shooting” to bring attention to their cause. “It’s a fake mass shooting, and we’ll use fake blood,” Matthew Short, a spokesman for the gun rights groups, Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com, told the Austin-American Statesman.

Now is the time to stand up, take a walk, and put pressure on politicians to ban Gun Free Zones.” On the event’s Facebook page, organisers added: “In the wake of yet another gun free zone shooting, Mr Obama is using it to aggressively push his gun confiscation agenda. Bird said in a statement, pointing out that the Westboro Baptist Church has also been denied the right to stage events at the school. “If they do not, it becomes a criminal trespass matter.

We suggest that any outside organisations planning such events on campus relocate them to other space where they would be allowed.” The mock mass shooting comes to Austin as the university struggles with the right of students to bear arms. The Cocks not Glocks protest was a nod to the fact that the sex toys remained illegal on campus under existing obscenity laws, even as gun laws were being relaxed. Since the 1970s, a dominant strategy, growing out of the Conservative Movement, had propelled Republican candidates into office using a tested combination of positions on defence, small government, lower taxes and social conservativism. Whites now make up a smaller proportion of Americans, meanwhile Republicans’ reliably pro-business economic platform has alienated voters who have seen their incomes fall as inequality surged. Since so much of US campaign politics revolves around symbols, rather than policy, there is a clash over what images and ideas Republicans should embrace today.

This leaves Midwestern and Southern white Republican voters feeling embattled, and hence, more defiant towards the looming demographic and political changes. With the middle class shrinking and the incomes of white male workers stagnating, the sense of backlash towards incumbents is strong – something Bush family scion Jeb is learning. In this free-for-all of fear, the imagery of guns have a special appeal, harking back to frontier ideas of the rugged individual battling their way in an unforgiving environment.

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