“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” Anatole France.
This week, our President held a closed-door meeting with legislative leaders On immigration policy. People at the meeting report of him getting frustrated by the idea that the policy should continue to include people from (what Trump called) ‘shithole’ countries. He was referring to Haiti and others.
Reports of Trump’s statement were followed by weak defenses that followed a formula we’ve seen several times. Liberals grasped their pearls and said, ‘oh my!’ Conservatives remained mum or pussy-footed around the comments.
This time, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin confirmed top press that Trump made the comment. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed to colleagues that Trump made the comment, but wouldn’t address the issue head-on with the media. Along with these two in the meeting were Republican Senators Tom Cotten and David Purdue. Both said they “don’t recall” Truman calling Haiti and other countries ‘shithole’ countries.
Another part of the formulaic response to Trump boners is all the talking heads saying, “Trump is just saying what his base thinks.” This calls to mind the famous quote attributed to Anatole France, mentioned above. In American history, we can look to Manifest Destiny (which led to Native American genocide), segregation, the rights of the disabled, the rights of women, and marriage inequality. On each of these issues, the status quo has changed as society has become more educated. Trump and his supporters are pushing the proposition that the new status quo is one of nationalism, white-rights, and entitlement. They claim the American people have ratified this new status quo by electing Trump.
Right-thinking Americans know this is an oversimplification. Trump does not represent the thoughts and hopes and desires of Americans. He may have millions of citizens who feel newly disenfranchised and hitch their political hops to his wagon, but very few do it with enthusiasm. Very few.