Mr. Trump must be stopped (Μικρή συλλογή άρθρων)
A)The moment of truth: We must stop Trump
Trump captures the nation’s attention on the campaign trail
The Republican presidential candidate focuses on the Super Tuesday state primaries after a win in South Carolina.
By Danielle Allen February 21
Danielle Allen is a political theorist at Harvard University and a contributing columnist for The Post.
Like any number of us raised in the late 20th century, I have spent my life perplexed about exactly how Hitler could have come to power in Germany. Watching Donald Trump’s rise, I now understand. Leave aside whether a direct comparison of Trump to Hitler is accurate. That is not my point. My point rather is about how a demagogic opportunist can exploit a divided country.
To understand the rise of Hitler and the spread of Nazism, I have generally relied on the German-Jewish émigré philosopher Hannah Arendt and her arguments about the banality of evil. Somehow people can understand themselves as “just doing their job,” yet act as cogs in the wheel of a murderous machine. Arendt also offered a second answer in a small but powerful book called “Men in Dark Times.” In this book, she described all those who thought that Hitler’s rise was a terrible thing but chose “internal exile,” or staying invisible and out of the way as their strategy for coping with the situation. They knew evil was evil, but they too facilitated it, by departing from the battlefield out of a sense of hopelessness.
[George Will: Trump relishes wrecking the GOP]
One can see both of these phenomena unfolding now. The first shows itself, for instance, when journalists cover every crude and cruel thing that comes out of Trump’s mouth and thereby help acculturate all of us to what we are hearing. Are they not just doing their jobs, they will ask, in covering the Republican front-runner? Have we not already been acculturated by 30 years of popular culture to offensive and inciting comments? Yes, both of these things are true. But that doesn’t mean journalists ought to be Trump’s megaphone. Perhaps we should just shut the lights out on offensiveness; turn off the mic when someone tries to shout down others; reestablish standards for what counts as a worthwhile contribution to the public debate. That will seem counter to journalistic norms, yes, but why not let Trump pay for his own ads when he wants to broadcast foul and incendiary ideas? He’ll still have plenty of access to freedom of expression. It is time to draw a bright line.
How Donald Trump won the South Carolina GOP primary, in 60 seconds
Donald Trump won the Feb. 20 South Carolina GOP primary. Here’s how. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)
One spots the second experience in any number of water-cooler conversations or dinner-party dialogues. “Yes, yes, it is terrible. Can you believe it? Have you seen anything like it? Has America come to this?” “Agreed, agreed.” But when someone asks what is to be done, silence falls. Very many of us, too many of us, are starting to contemplate accepting internal exile. Or we joke about moving to Canada more seriously than usually.
But over the course of the past few months, I’ve learned something else that goes beyond Arendt’s ideas about the banality of evil and feelings of impotence in the face of danger.
[Five myths Donald Trump tells about Donald Trump]
Trump is rising by taking advantage of a divided country. The truth is that the vast majority of voting Americans think that Trump is unacceptable as a presidential candidate, but we are split by strong partisan ideologies and cannot coordinate a solution to stop him. Similarly, a significant part of voting Republicans think that Trump is unacceptable, but they too, thus far, have been unable to coordinate a solution. Trump is exploiting the fact that we cannot unite across our ideological divides.
The only way to stop him, then, is to achieve just that kind of coordination across party lines and across divisions within parties. We have reached that moment of truth.
Republicans, you cannot count on the Democrats to stop Trump. I believe that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, and I intend to vote for her, but it is also the case that she is a candidate with significant weaknesses, as your party knows quite well. The result of a head-to-head contest between Clinton and Trump would be unpredictable. Trump has to be blocked in your primary.
Jeb Bush has done the right thing by dropping out, just as he did the right thing by being the first, alongside Rand Paul, to challenge Trump. The time has come, John Kasich and Ben Carson, to leave the race as well. You both express a powerful commitment to the good of your country and to its founding ideals. If you care about the future of this republic, it is time to endorse Marco Rubio. Kasich, there’s a little wind in your sails, but it’s not enough. Your country is calling you. Do the right thing.
Ted Cruz is, I believe, pulling votes away from Trump, and for that reason is useful in the race. But, Mr. Cruz, you are drawing too close to Trump’s politics. You too should change course.
Democrats, your leading candidate is too weak to count on as a firewall. She might be able to pull off a general election victory against Trump, but then again she might not. Too much is uncertain this year. You, too, need to help the Republicans beat Trump; this is no moment for standing by passively. If your deadline for changing your party affiliation has not yet come, re-register and vote for Rubio, even if, like me, you cannot stomach his opposition to marriage equality. I too would prefer Kasich as the Republican nominee, but pursuing that goal will only make it more likely that Trump takes the nomination. The republic cannot afford that.
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[Catherine Rampell: Donald Trump thinks you’re stupid. Yes, you.]
Finally, to all of you Republicans who have already dropped out, one more, great act of public service awaits you. As candidates, you pledged to support whomever the Republican party nominated. It’s time to revoke your pledge. Be bold, stand up and shout that you will not support Trump if he is your party’s nominee. Do it together. Hold one big mother of a news conference. Endorse Rubio, together. It is time to draw a bright line, and you are the ones on whom this burden falls. No one else can do it.
Marco Rubio, this is also your moment to draw a bright line. You too ought to rescind your pledge to support the party’s nominee if it is Trump.
Donald Trump has no respect for the basic rights that are the foundation of constitutional democracy, nor for the requirements of decency necessary to sustain democratic citizenship. Nor can any democracy survive without an expectation that the people require reasonable arguments that bring the truth to light, and Trump has nothing but contempt for our intelligence.
We, the people, need to find somewhere, buried in the recesses of our fading memories, the capacity to make common cause against this formidable threat to our equally shared liberties. The time is now.
B)Donald Trump and the politics of the middle finger
Attendees listen to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak during a campaign stop Wednesday in Walterboro, S.C. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)
By Michael Gerson Opinion writer February 18
At first, in the summer of 2015, it seemed like a joke. Then a novelty. Then a bubble that must surely burst. Then a spectacle, overshadowing all the earnestness and experience of the Republican presidential field.
Now Donald Trump seems on the verge of primary victories concentrated in the South that would establish him as a formidable front-runner. And this has happened despite a series of disqualifying comments — ridiculing a war hero, employing misogynist humor, mocking a disabled reporter, displaying ignorance on basic policy matters, slandering the last Republican president — that were not disqualifying at all.
Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in The Post. View Archive
Why has this happened? Trump is not leading because he has masked his ideas, which have been consistent and forthright. He would (he says) build a Mexican-funded wall across the continent, expel 11 million undocumented immigrants, blow up the global trading order, send Syrian refugees back into a war zone, ban the immigration of Muslims to the United States and consider a Muslim registry. No one who supports Trump can say they didn’t know the ethnically and religiously charged content of Trumpism.
Yet it is Trump’s style, his defiance of convention and political correctness, that seems to explain the intensity of his support. “We’re voting with our middle finger,” said a Trump supporter in South Carolina. All of the institutions that have failed — failed to stop Barack Obama, failed to save the United States from adulteration, corruption and destruction — should be overturned. Burn, baby, burn.
This approach to politics has not normally been associated with conservatism, which teaches prudence, proportion and respect for institutions, even if they require reform. Stepping back a moment, it is necessary to say that the United States, even after seven years of Obama as president, is not North Korea. And American political structures have not failed like those of Weimar Germany. Even as there is much to improve about our country, there is much more to love. And there is much to fear in faces that would appear eager and exhilarated when lighted by the bonfire of American institutions.
The political philosophy of the middle finger — captured by Trump in all its vulgar, taunting, divisive glory — requires an ethical leap. It assumes that practices we know are wrong in our private lives — contempt, mockery, cruelty, prejudice — are somehow justified in our political lives. It requires us to embrace views and tactics that we would never teach our children — but do, in fact, teach them through an ethically degraded politics. Imagine your teenage son (or daughter, for that matter) calling a woman a “fat pig,” “dog ” or “disgusting. ” Imagine your child labeling someone he or she knows as a “loser,” “moron” or “dummy.”
This is the evidence of poor character, in any context. For Christians, the price of entry to the Trump movement is to abandon their commitments to kindness and love of neighbor. Which would mean that their faith has no public consequence at all.
And Trumpism is an existential threat to conservatism. It is not a theory of limited government. It would use government, with augmented powers, to enforce a vision of ethnic nationalism, constructing a wall visible from space and conducting one of the largest forced expulsions in history.
Our circumstance is sometimes compared to William F. Buckley Jr.’s public shunning of the John Birch Society — the extreme conservatives of their day. But we have moved well beyond that precedent. No Bircher contended seriously for the Republican nomination. Until recently, nativists such as former congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado (who referred to Miami as a “Third World country” and proposed to send Obama back to “his homeland” in Kenya) seemed like a fringe element. Now this extreme threatens to become the dominant voice and face of the Republican Party.
Many Trump supporters believe that Obama has changed the country in destructive ways — which I believe is true. But they also would change our country in ways that should make us sick at heart. For all our faults, we are a nation that prizes civility and respect. We give our neighbor the benefit of the doubt. We stand up for the little guy. We are grateful for our flawed and wonderful country. And we know our flag stands for shared ideals, not someone’s idea of shared bloodlines.
All this is now at stake. It is time to stand up, to leave nothing that is necessary unsaid or undone, and to give our children an example of braveness and boldness in defending the decent, honorable, generous soul of our nation.
Γ)Donald Trump’s utterly ridiculous budget plan
Donald Trump in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Friday. (Randall Hill/Reuters)
By Ruth Marcus,a columnist for The Post, specializing in American politics and domestic policy.
In this depressingly unserious campaign season, it’s time — past time — to take Donald Trump seriously. In particular, to take seriously what passes for Trump’s domestic policy, aside from that wall.
Trump purports to care about the national debt. “We can’t keep doing this,” he said of the debt at MSNBC’s town hall Wednesday. “We’ve got to start balancing budgets.”
Except, Trump — alone among Republican candidates — insists that he will leave entitlement spending untouched, although it consumes more than two-thirds of the federal budget.
On Social Security, for instance, Trump rejects raising the retirement age (a move he once endorsed), increasing payroll taxes, reducing cost-of-living adjustments and trimming benefits.
In Trumpworld, the solution to controlling entitlement spending is that refuge of lazy and dishonest politicians everywhere: waste, fraud and abuse. “It’s tremendous,” Trump said at the recent CBS News debate, citing “thousands and thousands of people that are over 106 years old” and collecting Social Security.
Reality check: A 2013 audit found 1,546 people who had received Social Security benefits despite being dead. Total cost? $31 million. Cost of Social Security that year? $823 billion.
Another Trump favorite — empowering Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices — produces claimed savings, $300 billion annually, that are mathematically impossible. Medicare spending on prescription drugs was $78 billion in 2014. Total national spending on prescription drugs, not just by the federal government, was about $300 billion in 2014, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Stick with Trump! He’ll get the drug companies to pay us to take their meds!
Push Trump on cuts elsewhere in the budget, and you get suggestions that are paltry and unrealistic.
“I’m going to cut spending big league,” Trump pronounced at the MSNBC town hall. His sole example, when pressed by Joe Scarborough, was the Education Department.
Which part, please? The $28 billion to fund Pell Grants for low-income college students? The $16 billion to local school districts with large numbers of low-income elementary and secondary students? The $13 billion to states for special education? The entire $78 billion federal education budget?
Sometimes Trump tosses in abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency (budget $8.1 billion). Which brings his potential cuts to $86 billion. The Congressional Budget Office projects this year’s deficit at $544 billion.
This would not be so maddening if Trump were not simultaneously pushing a tax cut costing double-digit trillions of dollars over the next decade. His Republican rivals peddle big tax cuts — Trump’s is huuuger.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates its 10-year cost at $9.5 trillion, or $11.2 trillion with interest. The Tax Foundation gives the Trump plan credit for generating economic growth; as a result, its estimated $12 trillion cost of Trump’s plan would drop to a mere — mere! — $10 trillion, excluding interest.
How to pay for this? The Tax Policy Center illustrates the magnitude of cuts required. The Trump tax plan would reduce revenues by $1.1 trillion in 2025. Federal spending that year is estimated to be $5.3 trillion, excluding interest payments. Thus, Congress would have to cut spending across the board by 21 percent merely to pay for the tax cut, no less bring the budget into balance.
Trump asserts that his cuts “are fully paid for” by cutting deductions for the wealthy and corporate special interests, plus generating extra cash from corporate profits held overseas.
But the Tax Policy Center numbers already account for that new revenue and for limits on deductions Trump has already specified. So how is Trump going to pay the $1 trillion annual cost? TPC Director Leonard Burman tells me that wiping out all individual and corporate deductions would raise perhaps $700 billion annually at Trump’s tax rates. That’s all deductions — charitable contributions, mortgage interest, retirement savings, health insurance. Which would Trump eliminate?
Trump also claims his plan would spur economic growth to offset the cost. “My policies are going to reduce taxes, okay?” he told MSNBC. “And the taxes is going to bring jobs back and we’re going to bring jobs back into the country big league, and we’re going to have a dynamic economy again.”
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calculates that paying for Trump’s tax plan would require the economy to grow at more than 7 percent annually. The average since 1946 has been 3.3 percent. The Federal Reserve predicts growth in the 2 percent range.
Trump is a charlatan. Exposing his ignorance is harder than covering his boorishness, but it is no less essential.