Dear Republican People:
OK, enough is enough. We all laughed along with you this summer as Donald Trump ascended the polls and mocked everything from Jeb Bush’s “low-energy” campaign to John McCain’s military service. It was genuinely entertaining and perhaps Trump’s lasting impact on the 2016 race will be his torpedoing of Bush’s supposed inevitability. (Thanks for that, by the way.)
But this has gone on long enough and Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the country crosses the line into dangerous territory. This sort of anti-Islam rhetoric is exactly what empowers ISIS and draws fighters to its sick cause. Your 2016 frontrunner has now become the best recruiting tool for ISIS and is single-handedly endangering our security.
Sadly, your other (slightly more viable) presidential candidates are aping Trump’s empty scorched-earth tactics to frightening effect. Witness Ted Cruz holding a gun rally in the aftermath of the San Bernardino massacre. Or Marco Rubio, the recipient of some gay donor support, pledging to undo marriage equality and President Obama’s pro-LGBT executive orders. Or Ben Carson’s inability to pronounce “Hamas.” (That last one was pretty funny, but you get my meaning.)
After the holidays, please resume taking this whole run for the White House thing seriously. It’s time to tune in because the circus that is the GOP primary threatens to undermine your party and indeed our entire democracy, which requires a credible opposition in order to function properly. No one can take you seriously right now as your leading national voices look into TV cameras and lie with impunity. (See Carly Fiorina’s ridiculous assertion that she watched a non-existent video of a baby squirming on a table while Planned Parenthood killers waited to harvest its brain.) It’s really hard to debate candidates who aren’t constrained by facts.
Here’s another piece of free advice: Halt the attacks on gays, immigrants and other minorities. You’ve lost those battles and the more you demonize Hispanics, African Americans, women and LGBT people, the longer you will remain the party of straight, white, old southern Christian men.
There are some bright spots for you, to be sure. Your party controls Congress and a majority of governorships, including in overwhelmingly blue states like Massachusetts and Maryland. And some of them aren’t half bad. (Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, for example, enjoys a 60+ percent approval rating and has mostly avoided social issues while cutting fees and taxes.)
But that success hasn’t translated to the national stage over the last eight years. And stunts like opposing common-sense tweaks to gun laws — like the ban on terrorist watch suspects from owning automatic weapons — further cements the impression that you’re the mindless party of “no” rather than a credible alternative. Hillary Clinton’s historic appeal as the first female nominee of a major party and the Democratic Party’s undeniable edge in the electoral college means the GOP will need to win the national popular vote by several percentage points if it is to carry states like Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado next year. You will likely need to win all of those and more battleground states carried by Obama in order to prevail in 2016. Independent and moderate voters who have tuned out your foolish primary so far won’t be so blind or forgiving come November. There are serious challenges facing the country, from ISIS in Syria to mass shootings at home, and they require serious leaders, not reality TV stars pandering to racist, gun-toting rednecks.
It’s been entertaining, and we’ve all had a good laugh at the early campaign. Heck, you can even keep Carson around a little longer for levity. But come January, we’ll be just weeks away from the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary. It’s time for the grownups to retake the wheel of this clown car and present a real vision for the future.