The excesses and arrogance of Donald Trump’s Administration and clownish behavior seem to have made Democrats forget why they lost the 2016 election. White working class voters abandoning the Democrats en masse were due in large measures to economic concerns – but security issues also played a role. While Trump’s push on this issue might be based on race or business interests, that doesn’t mean Democrats are doing the smart thing or right thing by reflexively taking the extreme other side of his policies or rhetoric.
Trump’s unconstitutional immigration ban remains popular among many voters (about the same percentage that voted for him) – why? Trump is actually talking security at a time of anxiety, created largely by the 24/7 news cycle and hysteria on social media and cable channels. The Democrats haven’t yet given a security alternative to Trump’s radical and illegal proposals – and in the court of public opinion namely elections, Trump’s GOP has something to stand on with voters in 2018.
We learned after the Pulse shooting and FLL attacks that once again that the right is unwilling to do enough to regulate the purchase and carrying (thus leading to the use) of firearms in this state and nation. But similarly when people are fearful, many on the left continue to whitewash the radicalized ideology associated with religious fanaticism which drove the alleged Pulse shooter to target LGBT-citizens. This is unwise politically and policy-wise. Radical Islam is just like Evangelical Christianity, Hindu fundamentalism and other radicalized forms of mainstream religions. Policymakers in this country need to make an effort to ensure public safety and Democrats can come up with a more reasoned and tolerant way of handling terrorism and potential ISIS cells in the US – by forcefully advocating some sort of security policy that applies to right-wing terror and paramilitary groups across the spectrum of American society including Christians AND Muslims (and whomever else).
Despite protests and what is being said in a liberal echo chamber the security issue is currently a losing discussion for the Democrats. Why so many Democrats won’t call out racial Islam or those who threaten American values is bizarre. The failure to call out with radicalized conservative religious terrorists has given conservatives in the United States an opening to race-bait against what are in reality ideological allies of theirs. It’s an odd mismatch between the Democratic liberal philosophy and a group we seem to be determined to avoid scrutinizing (in the eyes of many voters who cast ballots in American elections) who mostly espouse an ideology that is anti-progressive and in many ways misogynistic. One of the pressures radical Islam is applying in Western Europe is against women’s liberation movements and the (contemporary) western view that women are equal citizens in every way to men (though here in US were incredulously still have not passed the ERA).
Now is the time once again to reinforce that Trump’s travel ban was aimed at countries in Africa or with which he had a political ax to grind. The true sources of terror, be they domestic or from the Middle East/Central Asia were not addressed. The racism practiced by the Trump administration mirrors that of the governments they are protecting by not addressing terror at its true source – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain. These five Gulf States practice a modern form of subtle racism and neo-slavery toward those from the nations of South and Southeast Asia- people with darker skin and different background to their own. Democrats need to aggressively call this out even if it offends some groups stateside that align with the party.
As I wrote after the 2016 Election:
We all love minority groups if we are on the left – that’s a proven reality. However, we don’t have to bend over backwards and shout racism against white working folks, our natural allies every time we feel like it. We do not have to back candidates simply because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity. We do not need to pretend voters do not have anxiety about terrorism because we interpret those who shout about it as racists. Yes, Republicans like Marco Rubio play the race card and islamic fear factor to ride to reelection as he did against Patrick Murphy. This is truly deplorable and should be condemned as we have here. But we must engage some of these people’s fears which have been created by the likes of Rubio and fill them with hope rather than demonizing them.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen many Indian-Americans (who are dark-skinned by the way) embrace Donald Trump because of the fear factor and hatred of Muslims. I said last month I didn’t want those kinds of voters supporting Clinton or Patrick Murphy and while I still would have a hard time accepting them, listening to them and hearing them out may not be the worst thing. Therefore, I too fell into the echo chamber of calling out religious people simply because I disagreed with them.
After the Paris bombings I wrote the following:
It seems many Florida and American liberals don’t want to see badly of any people who are not western or white – the rest of the world is filled with victims thanks to western imperialism and white privilege. But it is not that simple – it is never that simple. Thoughts based on right and wrong determinations like that were once the exclusive province of conservatives. Unfortunately, today liberal views shaped by (largely justified) hatred towards George W. Bush and the Republican wars of the last decade and our own domestic racial divides. This leads to fairly simple narratives branding all Muslims as victims or all people of color around the globe as oppressed even when they manage the most sexist, racist and misogynist policies/regimes on the planet.
Our own sorry history of racism and the legacy of colonialism should NEVER justify the rise of right-wing ideologies that profess hate as their core value in other parts of the planet – and that is what radical Islam much like conservative strands of Christianity and Hinduism as a governing ideology are an antithesis to what we believe as liberals and progressives.
This is not to say that many of the Republicans and conservatives are not race-baiting in the aftermath of the Paris bombings and the thwarted possible bombing of a football match in Hanover days later. Many conservative voters are driven by fear, hate and simple narratives – the us (good guys who are white) against them (bad guys who are brown or black) narrative often works in GOP primaries. What was once played as subtle racism is now overt – but liberals don’t need to create an equally simple reaction, one that flips the narrative completely.
From where I sit the view many Democrats and activists have on the terror issue and that of radical Islam is reactionary and lazy. It is also reflects a lack of global awareness or perspectives, though elections are not fought and won on that in this country. Democrats can mold a view of security that is inclusive but does go after the bad guys and appeals to voters – they just have to be willing to stand for something and risk offending a small cadre of special interest driven pressure groups – something that the Democrats are often unwilling to do not only on this issue but on so much more.