Anyone caught off guard by Trump’s call for the ban of all Muslims entering the United States shouldn’t be all that surprised. And if you are, well then you need to spend a good afternoon educating yourself about the current state of the GOP and the platforms of each candidate.
While Trump’s proposal was quickly denounced by many within his own party, the discriminatory policies he has advocated for are not a far cry from the sentiments and general hatred felt by GOP party leaders and the voting base against anyone who is not white, Christian, and American. One just needs to browse the @realDonaldTrump to see that incendiary comments and discriminatory statements are met with joy by a small section of the population. Islamophobia has been a rallying cry for the GOP ever since 9/11 and is a small but significant part of what conservative Christians call their own “culture war”. But it has been done quietly and with guarded language, which has allowed the GOP to incite the base while not handing Democrats too much ammunition to use against them during the election cycles.
All Trump is really guilt of is pulling back the curtain on the GOP’s hatred, bigotry, and religious war mongering. Trump has blown up the GOP’s playbook and they are not happy about it; not one bit. But that doesn’t mean they disagree with him:
In my opinion, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is the worst of the GOP candidates and best representation of politicized discrimination. Cruz hasn’t been quick to jump on the Trump dump bandwagon either since many of his own policies line-up with Trump’s. He has proposed imposing a religious test for all Syrian refugees entering the United States, fully believing that only Christian refugees should be accepted. Cruz has also been a staunch opponent of comprehensive immigration reform, claiming anything passed will amount to amnesty. And finally, he has also promised to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act within his first 100 days in office, which would prevent the Federal government from taking action against “individuals” (loosely termed to include for-profit businesses) who oppose same-sex marriage; effectively legalizing anti-LGBT discrimination in public spaces and the workforce.
Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is another GOP presidential candidate who has not outright condemned Trump’s remarks, noting that he already introduced an amendment in the Senate to temporarily block all immigrants from countries with “radical elements”. If the amendment becomes law it will ban immigrants and refugees from at least 34 Muslim-majority countries, many who are fleeing for their own lives from religious and social persecution.
Even Jeb Bush, once considered a moderate and sensible Republican, has embraced far-right policies, echoing the false claim that only Muslims commit acts of terror and that exceptions should be made for Christian refugees despite the fact that Muslims make up the majority of ISIS victims.
Marco Rubio (R-Florida) foolishly questioned one day before Trump’s statement whether there was “widespread evidence” of anti-Muslim rhetoric and has promised to reverse President Obama’s executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among Federal contractors.
And finally there is our friendly and quiet neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson who, like Trump, is another political outsider that has become a darling of the conservative base. Carson has made similar anti-Muslim remarks, going so far as to say he would not support a Muslim becoming President and that the United States should implement a monitoring protocol for all visitors entering the country, targeting those who come from “radical” countries. Carson has repeatedly made offensive statements about the LGBT community, going so far as to make light of the rape epidemic in prisons and waxing nostalgic for the days when “Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell” was still in place.
All of this rhetoric plays to the basic conservative belief that America and traditional values are under attack by external and internal faith-based and government forces. Instead of denouncing hate and discrimination, each candidate has made it a part of their platform using fear as their main tool for increasing support. Buoyed by hate speech from FOX News and Super PAC-filled coffers, these so-called leaders have failed to discuss policies in a constructive manner, resorting to name-calling and bombastic apocalyptic statements. This has been the state of the GOP for close to a decade. They do not want inclusion. Instead, they advocate for their own theocracy – one that uses Christianity as the reasoning behind their discrimination against the poor, migrant, progressive, non-white, non-Christian, and secular sectors of society.
For the longest time they were able to hide behind politically-advantageous calls for religious freedom and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Not anymore. They should have seen someone like Trump coming. I’m curious what they plan on doing next and only time will tell.