Trump’s call to ban Muslims from US sparks outrage
WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States — his knee-jerk reaction to the Islamic State-inspired terror attack in San Bernardino, California — has been met with widespread rebuke, including from leaders of his own party.
Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and speaker of the US House of Representatives, said Trump’s proposal “is not what this party stands for. More importantly, it is not what this country stands for.”
Dozens of other Republicans joined in, including Trump’s presidential campaign opponents. Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, said Trump “is unhinged” and that his bigotry towards Muslims would end up helping Democrat Hillary Clinton win election. Even former Republican vice-president Dick Cheney, who is not regarded as a sympathetic figure in the Arab and Muslim communities, said Trump’s proposal “goes against everything we stand for and believe in”.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest termed Trump’s proposal “deeply offensive” and “morally reprehensible”. It “runs counter to the US Constitution” and threatens national security, he said, and “disqualifies [Trump] from serving as president”.
True to form, Trump refused to apologise or even backtrack. In response to criticism from fellow Republicans, he made thinly veiled threats to run as an independent candidate if he does not win the party’s nomination.
After Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 presidential race, many mainstream Republicans argued that the party needed to reach out to minority voters. Nearly four years later, the party’s presidential front runner has called Mexican immigrants “rapists”, expressed support for the physical assault on an African-American protester at one of his rallies and now has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. While Muslims represent about only 3% of the US population, they vote at rates considerably higher than the national average.
A USA Today poll of likely Republican primary voters taken prior to Trump’s remarks about banning Muslims showed him with 27% support, ahead of second-place US Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who had 17%.
As disturbing as Trump’s popularity is, it is important to keep things in perspective: The poll quoted above reveals that only about three out of ten Republicans support Trump. It is safe to assume that his support among independent voters is less than this and among Democrats virtually non-existent.
The bottom line is that Donald Trump most likely will never occupy the Oval Office but in the ensuing 12 months, his hateful and vitriolic rhetoric could cause considerable damage to America’s image and potentially fatal damage to Republican hopes of recapturing the White House.