Golf - RICOH Women's British Open 2015 - Trump Turnberry Resort, Scotland - 30/7/15..US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump answers questions from the media at a press conference during a visit to his Scottish golf course Turnberry ..Action Images via Reu
Agitators and leaders in the political cabal that's spent recent years blocking immigration reform and trying to ensure election 'victories' by keeping non-white people from voting are worried that its leading pretender candidate is going to make it look racist. And while the temptation is to say "Don't worry, guys. Your policies already did that," it's hard to argue that Trump is adding some extra pizzazz to the Republican tone on race. "That’s not a dog whistle; that’s a dog siren," one Republican strategist said of Trump's law-and-order-and-gangs talk, but the description could as easily apply to Trump on immigration or any number of other topics. And that's the problem—it's all supposed to be done at dog whistle pitch and Trump is making it public. But his popularity then tempts his competitors to make their own racial appeals a little less subtle, figuring that the dog whistle isn't audible enough to compete for base Republican voters over the sound of Trump's siren. That's scary for Republicans who are looking ahead to the general election:
“Any candidate that allows Trump to dictate the conversation about what they’re campaigning on is going to be harmed irreparably,” said Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist and the architect of McConnell’s re-election campaign in Kentucky last year. “And to the extent that there are mainstream candidates dragged into the musings of Trump on a day-to-day basis is really bad news for us.”
But being dragged in they are. You've got a long list of Republicans attacking birthright citizenship, and Jeb, the one who was supposed to be able to win over Latino voters, talking about "anchor babies," then clumsily pointing a finger at Asian people to make the case that Latino votes are still his to get. You've got not just Trump but Cruz planning to attend an event hosted by a radical anti-muslim group. And you've got a bunch of Republicans echoing Trump's rhetoric blaming black people for police violence and racial division. Consider the conversation already dictated by Trump. The real question is whether the eventual nominee—if it's someone other than Trump—will be able to pretend he didn't say all that general election-unfriendly stuff, or package himself as just enough less horrific than Trump to seem kinda sorta innocuous. Too bad for them the evidence will be loud and clear.