Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A plea to all Republicans and independents

Donald Trump has chosen a white supremacist to be his chief policy advisor.

In case that didn't really sink in the first time, let me repeat it: Donald Trump has chosen a white supremacist to be his chief policy advisor.

Under Steve Bannon's leadership, the conservative news website Breitbart took an extremist turn and became an online haven for the "alt-right," basically a conglomeration of a new generation of white supremacists, misogynists, and online trolls. Here are a few examples of headlines from articles Breitbart ran under Bannon:

Hoist it high and proud: the Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage

Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew

The solution to online 'harassment' is simple: Women should log off

Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy

No doubt there are plenty of people putting forth the idea that Bannon is really an okay guy and of course he's not a white supremacist, that's just crazy talk! So let's see what some notable white supremacists think of the hire.

Former KKK leader David Duke?
"I think that's excellent," former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke told CNN's KFile. "I think that anyone that helps complete the program and the policies that President-elect Trump has developed during the campaign is a very good thing, obviously. So it's good to see that he's sticking to the issues and the ideas that he proposed as a candidate. Now he's president-elect and he's sticking to it and he's reaffirming those issues." 
Duke . . . argued Bannon's position was among the most important in the White House. 
"You have an individual, Mr. Bannon, who's basically creating the ideological aspects of where we're going," added Duke. "And ideology ultimately is the most important aspect of any government."
The American Nazi Party?
Chairman of the American Nazi Party, Rocky J. Suhayda, who wrote a post after Trump's election night victory celebrating it as a call to action, said he was surprised at the pick of Bannon, but said it showed him Trump could follow through on his campaign promises. 
"I must admit that I was a wee bit surprised that Mr. Trump finally chose Mr. Bannon, I thought that his stable of Washington insiders would have objected too vociferously," Suhayda wrote in an email. "Perhaps The Donald IS for 'REAL' and is not going to be another controlled puppet directed by the usual 'Wire Pullers,' and does indeed intend to ROCK the BOAT? Time will tell."
Need I go on?

Bannon isn't alone. Another key member of Trump's transition team, who has even been rumored as an Attorney General pick, is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. In Arizona, Kobach was the architect of what has been called the most racist law in the country, the "papers, please" law that let police officers stop anyone they suspected (read: Hispanic people) and demand proof of citizenship. Kobach was recently a featured speaker at a white nationalist conference.

Obviously, progressives like me are up in arms about these stories. Many Democratic politicians have strongly condemned the Bannon hire. Prominent Republicans such as Paul Ryan don't seem to be so concerned.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) defended Steve Bannon as a top advisor in Donald Trump's White House, praising the political strategist despite critics who note he has provided a platform for white nationalism. 
Ryan, who said he talks to Trump every day now, dismissed the furor over Bannon, saying the former editor of Breitbart News was crucial to the Republican president-elect's success. 
"This is a person who helped him win an incredible victory," Ryan said Tuesday. "We’re confident about moving forward. We’re confident about the transition."
There have been some Republican voices speaking up against the presence of white nationalism in the White House. John Weaver, strategist for Ohio's Governor John Kasich, tweeted this:

Sadly, such voices seem few and far between.

We can be sure that Democrats and liberals will speak up against Bannon and other white supremacist intrusions into Donald Trump's administration. But that's not enough.

Think about what it would say for our country if "Should white supremacists have positions of high power and influence in the presidential administration?" became just another left-vs.-right partisan argument, rather than the white supremacists vs. literally everyone else argument that it should be. We would be headed down a very dark path.

Many of you may have voted for Republicans in the past, in some cases on a regular basis, but did not vote for Trump. To you, I say thank you for recognizing how uniquely unqualified for the presidency Trump is compared to past candidates of both parties. But now that he has been elected, simply not having voted for the man is not enough. Some of you have thought or said, "We need to give Trump a chance now that he's been elected." I would not agree with that, because the way Trump ran his campaign was a clear indication of what sort of president he'd be. But I can understand why people would think that way. To those people I'd say, Trump has now had his chance, and hiring a white supremacist shows that he's failed. We all need to speak up against this. Call your representatives in Congress. Engage people you know. Write letters. Maybe even come out to a protest! The idea that Trump would be checked by more reasonable Republicans in Congress is looking more and more like a pipe dream, as evidenced by Speaker Ryan rolling over to men like Trump and Bannon who trashed him throughout the campaign. The only way that elected Republican officials will stand up to extremism in the Trump administration is if the constituents of those officials, including people who have supported them in the past, make it loud and clear that that support will not continue unless those officials stand up and take action.

There are also those of you who did vote for Trump. And a lot of you are probably resenting how Trump voters are being labeled as sexists and racists. I understand that being labeled as a sexist or racist can be very hurtful. But here's the thing. Your right to not have your feelings hurt does not outweigh the rights of people who will have their lives and well-beings damaged in very concrete ways by sexist and racist policies, like those that Steve Bannon will promote. If you don't want people to think you're a sexist or racist, if you truly believe that Donald Trump can be a president for all Americans, stand up and speak out against this.

(If the majority of Trump voters actually don't have a problem with the president-elect hiring someone endorsed by Nazis and the KKK, I'm not sure what to say other than that I weep for this country and its people.)

And to all of my liberal friends who are already outraged, don't let that outrage stay within your liberal bubble. Engage people who don't share your political views, who might be on the fence about these issues. If the next presidential administration has its policy decisions dictated by white supremacists, the damage done could be so enormous that our country might never recover. Don't think "it can't happen here," because anytime that "it" has happened, "it" started with people thinking "it can't happen here." Anyone who loves the United States of America and who loves the people of this great nation must take action to make sure that it does not happen.

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