Remember when Donald Trump said he’d date Ivanka if she weren’t his daughter and that was the craziest thing he’d said? Then that recording came out of him saying he could grab women by the—well, you know what he said. Now, via Twitter, he’s telling U.S. citizens who were either born here or were naturalized to “go back where they came from.” And then, in the wake of those horrifying tweets, and following the official condemnation of said tweets by the United States House of Representatives, Trump is greeted at a 2020 campaign rally with cries of “send her back” in reference to Representative Ilhan Omar.
Those tweets weren’t just a sign of Trump’s racism, though. Why didn’t he tweet this after Michigan Representative Justin Amash publicly declared his independence from the Republican party? Amash is a U.S. Citizen, born to a Palestinian father and Syrian mother—both immigrants to the United States. Why didn’t Trump say “Amash doesn’t have a right to comment on U.S. politics. He should go back to his own country and fix it?”
I think the answer is pretty simple.
It’s not just about the fact that these four women aren’t part of Trump’s White America that triggered his disdain for their existence. It’s also because they’re women. The fact that they are strong women of color with major social influence is a quadruple whammy.
It’s not a surprise though, right? I mean, we all know about Trump’s misogynistic track record. And so far, most Trump supporters have either supported, or excused his behavior.
But now with these tweets, and the statement calling Central American immigrants “animals,” I was sure a line had been crossed. I was sure people would look at what he said and respond with horror at such statements being made about US citizens who were elected into office by the very people they represent.
I’ve waited… I’ve waited patiently and I’ve waited silently for elected Republicans to say something (anything ) regarding the tweets and subsequent “Trumpian” battle cry. I’ve waited for condemnation, approval, or the standard “this is what he said, but this is really what he meant” statement. But my ears have been met with silence. I’ve searched in vain for op-eds written by GOP incumbents who demand apologies, answers, and action to Trump’s racist words.
The best I got was a piece by George Conway, lawyer and outspoken critic of the President, and husband to Trump’s most trusted advisor. It was well-written, and reflected many of my own sentiments regarding Donald Trump, his rhetoric, and his policies. But it was nothing new. It wasn’t an official statement by Martha McSally, or Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio, or any other well-known GOP politician.
Why have they remained silent in the face of one of the most polarizing controversies of the Trump era?
I’ll tell you why…
They’ve remained silent because they’re ashamed that they’ve allowed things to go this far and now they can’t go back, or ashamed that they actually agree with POTUS and don’t want to admit it. Mostly though, they’ve remained silent because they all want to get re-elected. Principles are out the window, and re-election is all that matters. If they support or excuse the president, they’ll be condoning behavior that goes against the oath they took when they took office, therefore losing votes. If they condemn the statements and the President, they’ll also lose votes. And even though staying silent may still lose them some votes, it’s the safest road for them to take.
U.S. politics has become a team sport, and what the VIPs (politicians) care about most is winning an election. Principles have no place in politics unless it benefits you and your team. And for those few that have the audacity to stand against their party and act or speak on principle are condemned and ridiculed off the field.
How do we change the game? Can we change the game?
We absolutely can. For starters you can put pressure on elected officials to stand on the principles that got them elected. Second, show up—at protests, at rallies, and most importantly, at the polls.
There’s a major election coming up. The Democrats are already pursuing a candidate in full force. A lot of Senate Republicans are up for re-election. Show up and vote on principle.
I still have faith in the American people, diminished though that faith may be. But maybe I’m naïve. Show up and show the world the power of democracy. Show up and show the world that freedom still rings here.
Joseph Paul Wright is a freelancer journalist based in Nogales, Arizona. He tweets from @joewrightwrites.