Don’t be Fooled. Donald Trump is Actually the Worst.

There is not much that people of all sides of the aisle can agree on, but here is one: This Republican nomination process has been a bizarre, surreal train wreck. 17 candidates, many of whom I’ve already forgotten, a former front runner who thinks that the pyramids were built to store grain, and the current front runner and likely nominee a blowhard and reality television personality who has been a national joke for years.   No one took him seriously, and no one thought he could win, and yet, here we are. Trump has won three of the first four primaries/caucuses, and came in second in Iowa. It looks like he’s going to sweep most of today’s Super Tuesday states. It seems hard to believe, but what one also has to remember is that, looking at the original slate of 17 nominees, we were always faced with a conundrum: all of them had fatal flaws, and examined individually it was easy to say for each of them that they could never be the nominee. And yet one of them was going to be.

It looks increasingly like Trump will be the Republican nominee. And while I think/hope that he would get trounced in the general, the fact is that in our two party system, whoever wins the Republican nomination has a non-zero chance of becoming president. And the thought of President Trump is absolutely horrifying.

What has been most surprising to me, though, is that there are still many people who don’t seem to understand quite how dangerous and terrifying Donald Trump, and the fact that he is garnering such strong support, actually is. The Republican Establishment seems to have had a very difficult time deciding if they needed to stop Trump because while they don’t like him, they really hate Cruz.* The more intellectual wings, like National Review , have decided to go all-in after Trump, but through this they’ve inadvertently exposed how awful they really are. NR’s anti-Trump issue mostly ignored Trumps calls for Muslim registries and yearning for Operation Wetback to accuse Trump of not really being Republican and not really being all in for tax-breaks for the rich. At the last debate, where Cruz and Rubio finally seemed to realize they were running against Trump, they both apparently criticized Trump for not wanting people to die in the streets from lack of insurance.

Even more disturbing, though, is that some progressive folks seem to think that Trump winning the nomination would be better than alternatives. Their reasoning varies. Some think that Trump doesn’t have a chance in the general. And while I mostly agree, again, whoever is the Republican nominee could conceivably be elected. Some seem to think that Cruz is worse, or, just looking at policies, see some random points of agreement with Trump when he’s talking his populist talk and think at least there are more points of agreement. And others seem to take so much joy in watching the Republican party burn that they are ignoring that the rise of someone like Trump, even if it causes agita across the aisle, is terrible for our country.

Trump is a racist and a fascist, a word I am more than comfortable using with him. He doesn’t want to be a president, he wants to be a dictator. It sounds so meaningless to say things like that, since those words have been robbed of so much power in the past 20 years, but in this case it is absolutely true and needs to be confronted head on. His prominence is already stirring up the darkest elements of our country, and it needs to be stopped.

Consider on the one hand his support from and coziness with white nationalists. This weekend he refused to condemn a recent endorsement from David Duke and the KKK, saying that he didn’t know enough about them. He’s since said that it was due to a faulty earpiece, but no one believes that. His previous disavowel of white nationalists who were endorsing him was done in such a way to confirm everything that they were for, and was such a friendly “disavowel” that the organization said he did so “in the nicest possible way.” His statement that Mexico is only sending over rapists and murderers, wanting to have a Muslim registry, condemnation of Black Lives Matters and their protestors, all of these are giving an even greater voice to long-simmering racist and white nationalist part of our nation than they’ve had previously. It is not particularly surprising that Jean-Marie Le Pen recently endorsed him.

And while some people point to long-standing Republican anti-immigrant policies, anti-Muslim rhetoric, and the southern strategy that’s tacitly encouraged the racist side of the party, saying that this is more of a change in style than of substance, at some point the style is different enough that it is a change of substance. And that is what we see in Donald Trump’s complete disregard of constitutional rights, and his outright support of racist violence.

Trump has proposed banning Muslims entirely from entering the United States via a travel ban. He has proposed a registry for Muslims. He has encouraged attendees at his rallies to beat up protesters on numerous occasions. Going further, he has said that he will pay the legal bills of anyone who beats up a protester at one of his rallies. When discussing foreign policy he wants to kill the families of terrorists. In a stance that, unfortunately, doesn’t set up that far apart from much of the Republican party, he’s unapologetically pro-torture and wants to bring back waterboarding and worse. When three men beat up a homeless Latino man in Boston, Trump said that they were just passionate about making America great again. As thin-skinned as any other dictator, Trump has said that one of the first things he’ll do as President is change the First Amendment so that he can more easily sue any newspaper that writes something bad about him. Yesterday, he had 30 black students removed from a speech he was giving at their college.^ There’s absolutely no reason to believe that his praise for Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin is anything other than sincere.

No matter how much I might dislike Cruz, no matter how destructive I think he is—after all, his actions during the debt limit increase and the government shutdown show that he’s pretty willing to burn it all to the ground, too—he at least isn’t out and out encouraging violence against anyone who disagrees with him, nor does he seem to be directly inspiring it. And while some progressives might take delight in seeing the consternation Trump is causing the Republican party and think that it’s okay for him to have the spotlight for now since he’ll get trounced in the general, that is a position that can only be taken by someone who knows that they won’t be affected no matter what. The hate crime in Boston, the number of crimes against Muslim immigrants in the past few months, and the rise in interest in white nationalist groups since Trump began his campaign, shows that giving a platform to this sort of hatefulness in the country is always dangerous.

I have no idea what a Trump presidency would actually look like. After all, I doubt Congress would eliminate the First Amendment just so that Trump could sue, and who knows, maybe imprison, the editors of the New York Daily News. Perhaps he’d quit in frustration after about 6 months. But I do know that no matter what, he has given voice to an ugly and dangerous strain in American politics, and that no one should be cheering for Trump to win anything. Fascism is not a joking matter.

*Please note, I don’t blame them for hating Cruz, who in any normal nominating contest would be The Worse. I just don’t think they should let their personal feelings blind them to how awful Trump is.

^And there has not been early enough criticism of Valdosta College or the Secret Service for going along with this, as far as I’m concerned.


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