Yesterday Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee for president, gave a speech about billionaire racist demagogue Donald Trump. Pretending he never laughed and guffawed over The Donald’s endorsement of his own 2012 presidential bid, Romney conveyed the not-so-secret panic among the GOP establishment over the prospect of a Trump-led Republican presidential ticket in November. Romney renounced Trump, attacked Trump, and begged Republican voters to vote for anyone but Trump. I agree with all of those sentiments. Donald Trump is a phony and a fraud, and I’m glad Romney said so.
But it was too little, too late.
The Republican Party has for at least eight years fanned the populist flames of racism and xenophobia to elect Tea Party extremists like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to office. It is in the glow of this fiery white anger that Trump thrives. The Republicans have no one to blame but themselves for creating a toxic political climate in which an unqualified braying jackass like Trump could rise as he has risen.
On Wednesday, author Stephen King’s tweet on this subject went viral:
King is dead on.
This is what happens when you embrace the silly racist birther “debate” over whether Barack Obama was born in the United States (he indisputably was).
This is what happens when as a party it is okay to deliberately obstruct every single thing the first black president wants to accomplish, because he’s black. This year that mulish obstructionism has induced the GOP caucus on the Senate Judiciary Committee to declare they will not even discuss any Obama nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, even if that nominee is Bill Pryor himself.
This is what happens when you blame low wages on immigrants rather than corporate greed. Romney himself jumped on the anti-immigration bandwagon in his failed 2012 bid for president with his ridiculous proposal to make things so hard on undocumented immigrants that they will “self-deport” themselves. His lamentation yesterday of Trump’s equally reprehensible immigration rhetoric rings hollow.
This is what happens when you reject science and facts in favor of outlandish lies. Thanks to the dark money fueling the GOP’s turn to the far right, it is now acceptable to deny scientific consensus that human-produced greenhouse gases are causing global warming, and to claim that President Obama has increased the deficit and unemployment rate when the exact opposite is true.
Republicans have been sowing these dragon’s teeth for eight years.
Now is born the dragon, Donald Trump, a crass but canny manipulator who realized before political scientists figured it out that a wide swath of the white electorate is angry enough to vote for the first swaggering strongman to come along and promise to blame everything on them: people of color and foreign accents.
And now Mitt Romney is trying to kill that dragon with measured words and an impassioned plea to rationality, begging America not to abandon the democratic values on which the republic was built.
It is too little, too late.
Romney and the rest of the GOP establishment are paying the price for their lack of vision. They should have read their history. They should have known what it was they were sowing.
Demogogues like Trump, like George Wallace, like Huey Long, like Adolph Hitler, thrive in climates of racial bigotry and economic unrest. They feed on the fears of white people who are angry that they are not exceeding the economic accomplishments of their parents. They lie about who is to blame for that. They assure the fearful and the angry that once elected they will be tough, and will get rid of them.
The Republicans created this atmosphere of bigotry with their rhetoric over the past eight years. Anti-worker policies have depressed wages in favor of swelling corporate coffers, and those coffers are where the dark money comes from that elects ideological extremists like Cruz and Rubio to Congress.
I know history. Demogogues like Trump are dangerous, and can irrevocably alter the nature of our great country. I am frankly terrified.
But I have no sympathy at all for the Republican Party or for Mitt Romney and his sudden change of heart over Trump. It may be that Trump, win or lose, will destroy the Party of Lincoln. Considering what it has turned into in the last generation, I will say good riddance.
But the dragon they have conceived and birthed is not just a Republican problem. Stopping this monster is a matter of national security, and of preserving the free nature of our democracy.
Romney’s speech was too little and too late to stop the prospect of Trump doing irreparable harm to the GOP. That ship has sailed.
But all Americans regardless of party need to make sure that this dragon, belching racist fire and promising to punish all who defy him, does not do irreparable harm to the greatest nation on earth.