Las Vegas Sun

November 12, 2018

Currently: 53° — Complete forecast

SUN EDITORIAL:

Time for voters, Trump’s financiers to tone down his divisive behavior

In the past several weeks, we’ve seen the unavoidable consequences of Donald Trump’s naked bigotry and rage play out at an increasingly alarming level.

As a nation, we urgently need to return to the civil, nondivisive and truthful process of governing that has guided our republic during the many decades of its enduring greatness. That will be impossible if a figure as important as the president continues his wild behavior.

Now, only two forces can put a check on Trump before more churches are shot up and the civil fabric that ties the nation together is torn asunder so badly that it could take a generation to repair it.

One is American voters, who can elect moderates to the House and Senate who will hold Trump accountable and demand a return of bipartisanship and respectful debate. The other is Trump’s financiers, who can force him to tone down his divisive rhetoric and cease his attacks on immigrants, Muslims, the media, Democrats and others he would like his loyalists to believe are their enemies.

As voters go to the polls, the financial backers should take action immediately. The nation’s spiral toward violence and incivility has clearly begun spinning faster.

Just look at the madness of the past month:

• An anti-Semitic monster slaughters 11 Jews at a peaceful worship service because he believed crazy conspiracy theories, and this narcissistic and insensitive president jokes about canceling an event that night because of a “bad hair day.”

• A fervent Trump supporter sends bombs to Americans from California to Florida in the largest political mass assassination attempt in American history, and almost immediately Trump amplified his us-versus-them rhetoric at a series of campaign rallies.

• A racist kills two black shoppers at a grocery store in Lexington, Ky., after trying and failing to enter a black church nearby to slaughter its occupants. When another customer shouts at him, the gunman says: “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”

• As monster Hurricane Michael rages through Florida, Trump has a political rally and later holds a bizarre event with rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office.

• Trump proudly asserts that being a “nationalist” is a good thing despite all that term implies.

• Trump proposes removing birthright citizenship protection from the 14th Amendment by executive order.

• Trump announces he’ll send as many as 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to encounter a caravan of fatigued, malnourished and foot-sore families. Lying about his invented “crisis,” he later announces that if anyone throws rocks at the border, the troops should regard that as being under fire. A day later, he backpedals on the remark.

Trump loyalists and campaign financiers, it’s time to muzzle your dog because this is spreading and getting worse — we’re soon going to find ourselves reaping the whirlwind.

We normally wouldn’t engage in name calling like this, but in this case it fits. In showing no understanding of the struggles of Americans and acting only in his own best interests, Trump is behaving like an animal.

This is a president who calls upon our fears and hatreds and has no interest in our hopes and dreams. It defines his smallness and the diminished nation he wants America to be.

He offers comfort and encouragement to neo-Nazis and white supremacists while echoing conspiracy theorist talk of “globalists” and trading in anti-Semitic lingo.

He spews lies at a machine-gun pace, including his and his party’s position on health care and pre-existing conditions.

It’s all designed to drive Americans further and further apart.

Meanwhile, rather than making America great, Trump has diminished our global standing to the point that Russian President Vladimir Putin laughs at how weakened we have become during Trump’s presidency. He openly mocks Trump, knowing our president will do nothing but grovel before him and beg for more.

Usually, presidents have such a strong moral center that the nation feels inspired to follow their lead, but this one is so malformed and misanthropic that Americans have to call on him to simply act like a human.

Beyond his personal interest, the only beliefs Trump has — and is consistent about — are white male grievance and bias against minorities. He has proven this throughout his life.

He’s the son of a man who was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in New York. Early in his career, the company he ran for his father was sued for — and later settled — violations of federal housing laws for discriminating against blacks. Trump called for the death penalty against young black men who would be found innocent of their charges, and he played to racist fears over the first black president.

As a candidate and as president, Trump has coarsened and degraded public life, public debate and the truth itself. He has encouraged the worst and most bigoted segments of our society and tried to normalize the language of conspiracy theorists and racists. The Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists look at Trump, nod approvingly and think, “Finally, we have a president on our side!”

And through it all, the GOP stands back and enables this violence against American civil society while an entire news network promulgates conspiracy theories known to be false and fringe.

Once upon a time, the GOP stood for nobel American values and would have stopped this madness. Now, it has representatives in Congress like Iowa Rep. Steve King endorsing European neo-Nazis, and a group of spineless legislators who look the other way.

But Trump will do as told by his financial backers. He is likely not bright enough to understand the big issues involved, but he most definitely understands self-interest.

It is imperative that GOP financiers drag their nearly unrecognizable party back from the brink of abiding insanity. The greatness the Republican Party was once capable of seems like a distant memory — that’s how low Trump has brought his party.

And in particular after Pittsburgh, Jewish funders of the GOP face a reckoning: The forces they have bankrolled set the climate in which this hideous attack took place. It is time for them to lead their party and its apparatus back to something resembling the old days.

And voters, you can make it in Trump’s self-interest to stop the partisan and racist violence he has countenanced. No Trump enabler deserves your support, because that is a vote for division.

In Nevada, we have a chance to deliver a powerful message that we demand a return to people working together. This is not to say the other side has all the answers. Not at all.

We deplore the images of protesters driving others from restaurants and the like. But these distasteful actions are an order of magnitude less offensive than the race-baiting and hatred emanating from the White House.

The driving force dividing America comes from this president, period.

What we are asking is for voters to make a strong check on the slide into hatred and chaos Trumpism has brought.

Let’s return to a sense of balance and serious, nonhate-filled discussion of the big issues facing us.

Sadly, the only answers the GOP is offering involve hating the other side and using brute force. Vote to stop Trumpism’s chaos, and we’re confident that when the Republicans see that Americans have had enough of this hatred, the reasonable voices within the party will come out of hiding and stand for more than naked hatred.

And there most definitely are reasonable voices — a few, faint but speaking out — who are starting to resist the wanton transformation of the GOP into a party of extreme-right nationalist demagogues.

It is not too late to return reason to our nation and to a GOP that has lost its moral compass.

Now, what is essential is a hard push from the voters to make it clear we will no longer stand for chaos and fear-mongering and division as our nation’s work remains undone and our national peace remains unsettled.