Throughout the 2012 presidential campaign season, I thought the G.O.P. primary was about as crazy as it could be. I mean, what can be crazier than a field that included Michele “HPV vaccine-retarded” Bachmann, Herman “9-9-9” Cain, Rick “Oops” Perry, Newt “Poor kids as school janitors” Gingrich, Rick “Ewwww” Santorum , and crazy ol’ Ron “Social Security is unconstitutional” Paul?
Boy…did I underestimate Republicans, and their God-given talents to indulge in The Crazy.
I won’t rehash The Crazy to date—there’s been just too much. This week, though, The Crazy seems to have reached some kind of boiling point after Donald Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S. Since then, he has doubled down, and even had a spokesperson callously state, on national TV, “So what? They’re Muslim.” This arguably isn’t his craziest, his most racist or even his most outrageously unconstitutional proposal. But it combines elements of crazy, racist, and unconstitutional, and distills them down to a pseudo-policy proposal that is easy to understand. It’s done two things.
First, it has “legitimized” open expression of bigotry and racism for a big chunk of the G.O.P. Trump has “let down” the dog whistle and made it okay for many Republicans to unleash their inner-racist at full volume. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham admits that about 40% of the G.O.P. are racist. Trump’s liberation of closet racists in the G.O.P. has actually helped his poll numbers in some early primary states, and he maintains a sizable lead in the first national poll taken since the policy was announced.
Second, it has created a sense of panic among the G.O.P. establishment over a “nightmare scenario” of Trump or Cruz. Trump would, apparently, end the G.O.P. as we know it. So in the past 24 hours, there have been reports that the G.O.P. leadership is making contingency plans for a brokered convention. This has further fueled speculation that there is a secret plan to nominate Mitt Romney. Ben Carson is so outraged (and has so misunderstood the brokered convention plans), that he is threatening to leave the G.O.P. Crazy.
And a Trump supporter speaks. https://t.co/HE6kvaEjU1
— deray mckesson (@deray) December 10, 2015
[I mean, things have gotten so freaking crazy that Sen. Ted Cruz has taken one last swallow, gotten off his knees and boldly (well…in a private meeting) questions Trump’s judgment. Trump, in turn, dares and then double-dares Cruz to take his best shot and orders him back to his knees.]
The Crazy has been working well for Trump (and Cruz and Carson to a lesser extent) in the primary. As a general election strategy, peddling fear and bigotry seems like a sure-losing strategy. It will take boatloads of money to help American’s forget this crazy primary before November. And even that may not be enough.