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Editorial/Opinion

 

NYT Editorial Board: How can America
recover from Donald Trump?


Donald J. Trump by Jason Seiler US caricature

Donald Trump is heading to November like a certain zeppelin heading to New Jersey, in a darkening sky that crackles with electricity. He is fighting crosswinds and trying new tacks — hiring the head of Breitbart News to run his campaign, trying on a new emotion (regret) in a speech on Thursday night, promising to talk more this week about immigration, his prime subject. There's still no telling what will happen when the gasbag reaches the mooring.

It could be that the polls are right, and Mr. Trump will go down in flames. But while that will solve an immediate problem, a larger one will remain. The message of hatred and paranoia that is inciting millions of voters will outlast the messenger. The toxic effects of Trumpism will have to be addressed.

The most obvious damage has already been done — to the debate over immigration, a subject that is America's pride but that can also show the country at its worst. Mr. Trump's solution is to build an unbuildable border wall and force 11 million people out of the country, while letting millions of “good ones” back in. Or maybe not — now he says he wants to bar immigrants from most of the world, except for a few who pass religious and ideological tests. “Extreme vetting,” he calls it , bringing the Alien and Sedition Acts and McCarthyism into the reality-TV age.

Yes, Mr. Trump speaks frontier gibberish. Outright nativism remains a fringe American phenomenon. But there is no shortage of mainstream politicians who have endorsed his message by endorsing the Republican nominee. Anyone hoping to build a serious solution to immigration after this election will have to confront the unworkable ideas and vicious emotions that Mr. Trump, with many enablers, has dragged into the open.

It seems like a century ago, but it was only 2001 when a Republican president, George W. Bush, began talking about a once-in-a-generation overhaul of the outdated American immigration laws. He sought a bipartisan consensus to boost the economy and make millions right with the law. Then came 9/11. Though sensible immigration reform gained the broad support of the American public, legislation in Congress repeatedly failed, ambushed by hard-core Republican partisans.

This year brought the fever dream of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where speaker after speaker presented a vision of foreigners stealing across the border to rob, rape and kill. Cued by Mr. Trump, they scapegoated immigrants and refugees in general and Latinos and Muslims in particular. The crowd cheered for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, brutalizer of Arizona Latinos, and Rudolph Giuliani, who hollered about terrorists and criminals as if running for mayor of Gotham City.

It's no wonder that the nativists are feeling inspired, the bigots emboldened. The white supremacist David Duke is running for the Senate. Stephen Bannon , Breitbart's chief purveyor of conspiracy theories and anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant venom, is the natural ally of a candidate who hints that President Obama is a secret Muslim and who insists that Muslims in New Jersey danced by the thousands as the towers fell on 9/11.

Optimists, eyes on the polls, hope that Mr. Trump, in losing, will discredit these views and that Republicans next year will sue for peace. Under this scenario Hillary Clinton and Paul Ryan or whoever is running Congress will move fast to push forward a rational immigration reform bill.

Remember, though, the post-mortem that found Republicans chastened after the more genteel nativism of the 2012 Mitt Romney campaign. The last vestiges of that contrition vanished as Mr. Trump, warning about Mexican rapists, vaulted atop the polls.

Trump supporters have now been promised a nation where non-natives, and their children, are locked outside the borders forever. They have been promised, inside a new wall, new factories where everyone will build things, speak only English and be rich. What will happen when they learn that none of this is real?

The challenge to responsible leaders of any political party will be to separate the economic discontent from the bigotry and paranoia that are the key to the Trump phenomenon. The question to future Republican leaders is whether they will even try to do so.


The Editorial Board of The New York Times (NYT), an American daily newspaper, founded and continuously published in New York City since September 18, 1851, The New York Times has won 117 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization, its weekday circulation has fallen to fewer than one million daily since 1990 . Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.

Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by The New York times on August 20 2016. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.

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