Photo of the day

From an In Focus gallery of hopeful images:

A man throws a girl into the air during sunset as they spend time on the territory of Chersonesus Tavrichesky (Tauric Chersonesos) National Reserve in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, on July 25, 2015.

Pavel Rebrov / Reuters
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The real problem is that Trump represents the Republican party

Lots of good stuff about Trump wanting to ban Muslims from immigrating to America.  He wouldn’t say this if he didn’t think it was a political winner.  That’s the worst part.  Among far too big a segment of the Republican primary electorate, this position is a positive, not a negative.

Will Saletan:

Maybe it’s time for those of us who have predicted Trump’s demise—reporters, liberals, moderate Republicans—to face an unpleasant possibility. Trump isn’t out of touch with the electorate. We are. Trump speaks for a plurality of today’s Republicans, and many independents as well. That’s just as true on the subject of Muslims as on other topics. One of America’s two ruling parties is controlled by voters who are ready to turn the government against a religious minority… [emphases mine]

Would this deepening anti-Muslim sentiment create popular support for policies that explicitly targeted Muslim Americans? To answer that question, a Rasmussen surveyon Nov. 17 and 18 asked likely voters: “Should most individual Muslims be monitored by the government as potential terrorists?” Only 24 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents said yes. But a 43 percent plurality of Republicans supported the idea.*

And plenty of more earlier poll results to boot.

Drum:

Why is Donald Trump not paying a price for his increasingly unhinged rhetoric? Two recent polls tell the story.

At the top is a Bloomberg poll that asks if you agree with Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the country. Less than a quarter of Republicans oppose it. At the bottom is an MSNBC poll that asks what kind of person Trump is. Only a quarter of Republicans think he’s insulting and offensive. These aren’t polls of tea partiers. They aren’t polls just of conservative states. These are polls of all Republicans in the nation. By a very wide margin, ordinary Republican voters think the stuff Trump is saying sounds great. Only about a quarter don’t like what they’re hearing.

And Vox’s Zach Beauchamp:

Donald Trump’s Monday evening call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States — including US citizens — was condemned by virtually everybody in American public life,right and left.

But Trump thrives on elites calling him out for being a bigot. It’s the Republican primary electorate Trump is playing to — and he’s got a decent chance of succeeding, as the chart below shows…

A full 76 percent of Republicans, currently Donald Trump’s target audience, see Islam’s values — and thus, presumably, the Muslims who adhere to them — as incompatible with the American way of life. [italics in original, bold is mine] …

This data explains why Trump is hardly the only Republican in the race pandering to anti-Muslim sentiment: it’s disturbingly popular. And it’s starting to manifest in actual, real-life bigotry.

Beauchamp also with a nice post building off of (Big) Steve Saideman:

There’s a litany of factors thought to be driving this anti-Muslim sentiment. But a political science theory known as “ethnic outbidding” offers another possible explanation, raised by Steve Saideman, a political scientist at Carleton University.

The basic idea is that political leaders competing for support from an ethnically homogeneous group (in this case, the majority-white, majority-Christian GOP) have really strong incentives to demonize outgroups to gain political support. Once that process has started, this rhetoric increases the hostility, and each candidate may try to one-up the others to compete for a bloc of voters who hate or fear that outgroup — in this case, Muslims.

The candidates don’t necessarily need to actually hate Muslims to engage in hateful rhetoric, in this theory. (And it’s true that Islam is not an ethnicity; the point is that it’s a demographic outgroup.) Trump, the theory goes, is just the most shameless.

“Trump is outbidding the other Republicans — trying to be the most hostile to America’s Muslims,” Saideman writes.

This theory can’t explain everything, of course: for example, why it’s ended up targeting Muslims. But it does suggest an interesting and fairly compelling factor to help explain why this year, more than any prior year, candidates are saying such cruel things about Muslims — and why the rhetoric seems to be getting harsher as the campaign goes on.

Earlier today I referred to Trump as “the id of the Republican Party to a friend.”  He said I had taken that from a Times article yesterday.  Actually, no, “great minds…” I said.  Then again, it doesn’t take great minds, rather “id of the Republican Party” is, sadly, a fairly obvious description of what Trump is.  The real horror/shame of what we are learning is not that Trump is out there in extremist and horribly un-American territory.  It’s that he’s out there with so much of the Republican party behind him.

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