The Problem With Donald Trump

It hardly makes any sense. In the Republican
primary, which features many quality candidates, one aspirant who is decidedly anything but, is leading the field. The race’s circus clown, Donald Trump, has been ahead or in the top two in the last couple of national polls. While the 2012 cycle had a similar shift in polling cycles, this seems to be different. First off, the last time around, the constant changing of the “frontrunner” was mostly due to the weak crop of talent running. This time around, however, the contenders are almost all better than in 2012 — by any conceivable metric.

Consider this: Rick Santorum, who finished second in 2012, will probably not even qualify for the first debate — which is limited to the top 10.

But it’s more than that. Voters three years ago were trying to choose a viable conservative candidate from a group that was flawed in that respect. This time, there are loads of “true conservatives” to choose from. The Senate Conservatives Fund, a group founded by former Senator Jim DeMint to recruit and run candidates against Republicans in primaries when they considered them insufficiently conservative, boasted that there are three of their “alumni” running for president. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz all originally got into the Senate by running against (and beating) “establishment” Republicans who weren’t conservative enough.

So it is kind of head-scratch-inducing to see Donald Trump, a man who has contributed absolutely nothing of value to the political process, getting the kind of support he is getting.

Token disclaimer: Polls are notoriously unreliable — especially of late. But Trump has been drawing large crowds and getting lots of media attention that comes with that.

It is so perplexing that National Review’s Kevin Williamson wrote an entire piece about Trump’s backers, most of whom usually dismiss anyone who doesn’t pass a conservative purity test as “RINOs” (Republican In Name Only). These people, he wrote, who think everything is the fault of the “establishment” and are content to immolate the party if it means they can show up said “establishment,” are the same ones supporting Trump — despite his decidedly liberal views on many things. They, writes Williamson, ought to be called WHINOS.

But what is Trump’s appeal? What is the issue that people seem to be most excited about?

The answer, if you ask his supporters, is his stated view on immigration.

Notice, I didn’t write “immigration reform” or “amnesty” — because on those issues he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with his supporters. (Whether they realize that or not is another question.) He told Bill O’Reilly, “You have some great, productive people that came. You have to give them a path. You have 20 million, 30 million, nobody knows what it is. It used to be 11 million. Now, today I hear it’s 11, but I don’t think it’s 11. I actually heard you probably have 30 million. You have to give them a path, and you have to make it possible for them to succeed. You have to do that.”

Trump is ready to give amnesty to 30 million illegals.

So what is it about his stance on immigration that his supporters, at least the ones who aren’t being conned into it, like? Well, if you listen closely (and it’s also being said explicitly by his biggest backers — chief among them Ann Coulter), Trump isn’t a fan of legal immigration.

Which is why it is so disturbing to me when I hear frum Jews supporting Trump.

What possible reason could there be to be against legal immigration? Well, there are two possibilities. There is protectionism, which seeks to save American workers from losing their jobs to cheaper immigrant workers. But there is another, more sinister rationale.

Coulter just wrote a book about how, according to her, America is turning into a third-world country. The book, which was publicly praised by Trump, faults legal immigration from “culturally inferior” countries for every problem America has.

It is this kind of nativism that led to the Emergency Quota Act in 1921 and the Johnson-Reed act of 1924. The purpose of that, according to the State Department’s Office of the Historian, “was to preserve the ideal of U.S. homogeneity.”

It must have worked, but the quotas it set in place were in no small way responsible for the demise of many Jews who fled Europe before the Holocaust but were denied entry to this country.

For people like Coulter, this is hardly a convincing argument. After all, Coulter once said (out loud) that she believes that Jews need to be “perfected.” So it’s hard to imagine that this argument would sway her at all.

But it should make all the difference to all Jews.