Business mogul and spray-tan enthusiast Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States in the 2016 election on June 16, 2015, adding yet another contender to the Republican field. Trump announced his bid in front of a building with his own namesake, with the promise to “Make America Great Again!” Ever since he entered the race, the 24-hour news cycle has failed to go more than a few days without covering Trump’s crazy antics and brash remarks.
Trump wasted no time at all and hit the ground running, bashing undocumented immigrants– specifically, those from Mexico. According to Trump, our neighbor to the south apparently sends its people to the United States, presumably to steal the white man’s jobs. The problem is that when Mexico sends its people, it doesn’t send the best of the best. Instead, “they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Donald’s blanketed statements raised more than a few eyebrows and dropped more than a couple jaws. Immediately, Trump’s business partners started cutting ties with him. The first to go was Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the world. Univision cancelled its deal to air both the Miss USA and Miss Universe beauty pageants, an enterprise which Trump partially owns. Donald, of course, reacted like any other savvy businessman would and banned Univision employees from using his golf course in Miami. He is also pursuing a $500 million lawsuit against the broadcasting network, stating that Univision was suppressing his freedom of speech by refusing to air the pageants.
NBC followed suit shortly after, by also dumping his pageants as well as his show The Apprentice. Department store Macy’s also ended business relations with the mogul, releasing a statement that said his remarks were inconsistent with the beliefs and values of the company. Carlos Slim, a proud Mexican and the world’s second richest man, took Trump’s comments personally and severed all ties with him, cancelling an upcoming television show that was to star the man himself. Trump’s remarks have cost him a total of roughly $78.5 million in business deals so far, a figure that’s a drop in the bucket for the multi-billionaire.
As if Trump wasn’t satisfied with pissing off just Mexicans, he angered many US veterans by making brazen remarks on Senator John McCain a few days ago. While at a Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, a crowd member asked Trump how he could call McCain– who is regarded as a war hero by many after spending five and a half years as a POW during the Vietnam War– a dummy on Twitter. Trump responded by saying that McCain is only a war hero because “he got captured” and that Trump likes “people that weren’t captured”.
While most other Republican presidential candidates have remained silent on Trump’s previous controversial remarks, it appears that he has finally crossed a red line. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Scott Walker have all decried Trump’s remarks on Senator McCain, calling them both absurd and offensive. Ted Cruz, however, refused to denounce Trump’s comments, saying that he’s not going to feed the media’s appetite for Republican-on-Republican violence. John McCain responded to Trump’s comments in an appropriate and civil manner, telling Trump that he owes an apology not to himself, but to “the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving our country.”
Donald Trump’s comments have infuriated many people throughout this country, yet his poll numbers have surged in recent weeks. Trump is currently leading the polls with 24% support among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents. His closest competition is Wisconsin governor Scott Walker at 13% while former front runner Jeb Bush sits at 12%. This is because his message resonates quite well with the far-right, who eat up his unabashed anti-immigrant rhetoric. They see him as a politician who is not afraid to speak his mind, just the type of candidate we need in our politically correct era. Being a billionaire also helps Trumps case among his supporters, as he can’t simply be “bought out” by political interest groups.
As an American, Donald Trump is more than welcome to make such remarks, regardless of how inflammatory and incorrect they are. However, these comments come at a price for both Trump and the GOP as a whole. His comments may have resonated with far-right conservative voters, but they alienate more moderate Republicans as well as most middle-of-the-spectrum independents. His words on Mexican immigrants essentially lost him and the Republican party any previous shred of support they had from the Latino voter block. It doesn’t matter how hard Republican candidates try to distance themselves from Trump: he has done the impossible and has further tarnished the image of the Republican party in the eyes of both Latinos and moderates. While the support of super-conservatives might win Donald the primaries and get him media attention, he needs the support of these two aforementioned voter groups if he wants to beat the Democratic candidate in the primaries.
Being an immigrant myself, I find Trump’s comments both bigoted and ignorant. I grew up in an agricultural community in California, so I saw first hand how incorrect his statements were. I would see immigrant laborers hunched over every day on route to school, tending the vast vegetable fields, often to find the same people still working on my way home. These people are humble and hardworking, never asking for handouts or begging for money on a street corner. Are there rapists and killers that immigrate into this country? Yes, without a doubt. But to paint an entire group of people as criminals that threaten the very fabric of American life is plain absurd. Most immigrants come to the United States for an opportunity at a better life for themselves and/or their children; they do not come here to break the law.
The 2016 presidential election is more than a year away, an eternity in terms of politics. Donald Trump might be leading the pack of elephants right now, but many political analysts hypothesize that he will crash and burn when November 2016 comes around. That is, assuming he stays in the race that long instead of dropping out and telling the American people that his campaign was merely a ploy to troll them. Seeing the circus United States’ politics has became, I wouldn’t rule that out.