Many Republican leaders view Donald "I'm Not A Bully" Trump like a sudden rash which broke out on the GOP primary. Like any reckless freshman frat boy the GOP had three options when they saw "The Donald" flaring up; they could ignore the rash, scratch at the rash, or treat the rash.
Of course, treatment would have been the responsible approach. Any sensible person would simply get a diagnosis, or in other words, admit there could be a problem. Donald Trump, like that rash, isn’t necessarily the problem, though. The problem is the irresponsible behavior that exposes one to the disease.
There is shock - shock! - at Trump's undemocratic booting of Latino Univision anchor Jorge Ramos at a press conference. By the way, Trump also said at an Iowa rally on Tuesday that "illegals" would be driving the cars produced by a Ford plant in Mexico because that way they could cross the border and stay. This is after saying Mexico sends its rapists and murderers here. But is it really that shocking that a plutocrat real-estate mogul has turned into a jingoistic jester as he trawls for votes?
Let's step back a bit. Risky GOP behavior includes decades of pandering to nativist populism, using racist coded language, and implementing a Southern Strategy that consolidated white voters by vilifying blacks in the South and then Latinos in the Southwest. The short term gains of electoral victory in exchange for undemocratic segregation between white and non-white voters has imperiled the Republican Party in the long term as the country goes through a demographic transition everyone saw coming decades ago.
It’s not like the GOP doesn’t know they have a problem. The Republican National Committee chair, Reince Preibus, has been imploring his party to stop the risky behavior. Indeed, in 2013, the Washington Post reported that Mr. Preibus was giving the GOP a “prescription for the future”. In his report admonishing the GOP for their failure to reach out to minorities, Mr. Preibus prescribed a multi-million dollar outreach effort for Hispanic, Asian-American and African-American voters.
And yet, two years later, the Trump flare-up was met with ambivalence. No diagnosis, no doctors, just pretending the rash wasn’t there. Jeb Bush ignored Trump, even failing to respond when Trump insulted his wife. Marco Rubio went radio silent.
Then when it became apparent that the rash wasn’t going away, the GOP started scratching. And scratching. And they continue to scratch to this day, exacerbating the the problem.
Trump has dictated the primary for the Republican Party. Not a single candidate has stood up to Trump in any meaningful way. In fact, Republicans have now taken up proven loser issues like birthright citizenship, and are attacking the children of undocumented parents. Essentially, the GOP has taken the absolute most cowardly approach and are turning their frustration towards people who cannot vote because they are still unborn or are 18 years away from an election they will be qualified to participate in.
And yet, we are to believe these candidates can be trusted to stand up to terrorist groups like ISIS or negotiate tough nuclear non-proliferation treaties with Iran. They can’t even stand up to an impotent circus act.
Donald Trump looks like he’s staying around for a while. The longer he goes untreated, the longer the scratching will scar the Republican Party. Everyone will remember in 2016 that the Trump flare-up happened in the summer of 2015 without any attempt to treat the disease or change behavior to avoid future Trumps won't flare up again. Without any admission by the GOP that they need to change, Latinos will not support a party that cannot perform basic hygiene.
Stephen A. Nuño is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. Stephen is a proud native of Los Angeles, and has a B.A. from UCLA and a Ph.D. from UC Irvine in Political Science. Twitter: @stephenanuno