Donald Trump continues to win in the primaries in spite of his racist and violent outbursts, including calling for the killing of family members of terrorists, the open use of torture, and refusing to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan. But now the Republican Party leadership has openly denounced him. Following Trump’s recent wins, 112 members of the Republican Party’s national security community wrote a letter attacking Trump, saying that he would “make America less safe…diminish our standing in the world…[and] poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the U.S.” The same day, the 2012 Republican Nominee, Mitt Romney, denounced Trump in a speech shown all over cable news, calling him a “phony” and a “fraud,” and saying that “Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes.”
But how different are Trump’s political positions than those the Republican Party has advocated for decades? Trump continuously blames immigrants for the economic problems in this country, referring to them as “criminals” and “rapists.” But during the last presidential election, Mitt Romney repeatedly pointed to undocumented immigrants as the cause of unemployment and low wages, and he called on immigrants to leave the U.S. through “self deportation.” It was also Romney who made his infamous rant about the so-called “47 percent,” referring to half the population as lazy freeloaders “who think they are victims,” who just need to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
The Republican Party has repeatedly used these racist politics of scapegoating to placate the anger that many in the working class feel towards the severe economic situation they find themselves in. Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, blamed the poverty in inner city black neighborhoods on “a cultural problem,” what he called “generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” And there have been many connections between Republican officials and known white supremacist groups, recently including former Mississippi Senator, Trent Lott, and Louisiana Congressman, Steve Scalise. It’s no surprise that over a dozen leaders of white supremacist organizations have publicly endorsed Trump, calling him someone who “represents our interests,” and is the “last hope for a president who would be good for white people.”
Trump’s rhetoric is only a more extreme version of the racist scapegoating that Republicans have continuously used to build their base over the years. But now the Republican Party has started to worry that Trump might win the nomination. Why are they speaking out against him? Their problem with Trump is less about what he says – it’s that they are worried they might not be able to control him. Trump is an outsider to the Republican Party’s political machine. His rhetoric may resonate with angry voters, but already top U.S. military officials have expressed unwillingness to follow the orders given by a Trump presidency. The Republican Party wants to guarantee a smoothly functioning government for its real constituency – the wealthy corporations who use the U.S. government to impose their will. Loose-cannon Trump is a danger to this goal.
The fact is, both parties carry out much of the same policies. Even without all the racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric, the Obama administration is responsible for the deportation of the largest number of undocumented immigrants than under any president. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. has engaged in perpetual warfare all across the globe, has continued to justify assassinations via drone strikes, openly striking hospitals, weddings, funerals, and crowded city streets. All the while, the U.S. has seen high levels of long-term unemployment, attacks to education, increases in health care costs, and billions of dollars handed out to banks and corporations – not to mention it has repeatedly justified the largest surveillance operation known to human history.
It’s true that Trump is a loudmouthed racist. But the reality is that both parties, Republicans and Democrats, serve the wealthy. They may not use the same kind of rhetoric to get elected, but once in office, they know who they serve. In order to bring about real changes in our lives, we can’t rely on their politicians to fight for us. We do all the work to make society run and we can also use that power to fight for our own interests. None of their politicians will do it for us.