What began as an entertaining summer watching the Republican Party eat its own turned scary last weekend as Donald Trump won a landslide victory in South Carolina. It would take an unprecedented break with electoral history for Trump to lose the nomination, having also won in New Hampshire.
Trump embarrasses himself, the Republican Party and our country each time he opens his mouth. The mainstream media deserve considerable blame for his dominating the polls, granting endless softball interviews since last summer at the expense of airtime for other candidates who, unlike Trump, are required to put on a suit and actually show up in a studio to be interviewed. He lies about everything and is rarely challenged. It took Fox News’s Megyn Kelly to stand up to the bully and his misogyny. Otherwise, the softies of morning news allow Trump to say any outrageous thing out of fear he won’t come back to their shows and goose ratings again.
Trump’s rise is the predictable and unavoidable consequence of glorifying stupidity and anti-intellectualism. In a beautiful display of karma, Sen. John McCain was attacked by Trump for being captured during the Vietnam War. It was McCain who gave us Sarah Palin in a cynical ploy to appeal to uneducated, racist Tea Partiers. You reap what you sow.
The only positive contribution Trump has made: repeatedly assailing presumed front-runner Jeb Bush as “low-energy,” a fatal and apt description that Bush couldn’t shake, no matter how hard he tried to reanimate. Thank you, Donald, for sparing us another Bush in the White House.
As bad as Trump is, the alternatives could be worse for LGBT Americans, with Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio already spelling out plans for how to undo marriage equality and advance so-called “religious freedom” measures. Rubio, at age 44, is supposed to represent the future of the party. Yet his positions on a range of issues, including LGBT concerns, smack of the 1950s, not a “new American century” (which, by the way, started 16 years ago).
It is simply unimaginable that an LGBT voter could support any of these candidates. The Log Cabin Republicans should sit out this election and hope for a Democratic landslide so the GOP can finally get serious about retooling for a new era. Maybe then Log Cabin will carry more meaningful influence with party leaders and convince them to renounce homophobia in the platform and to oppose laws that dissuade or prevent African Americans from voting. After Mitt Romney’s 2012 thumping, RNC leader Reince Priebus announced plans for an “autopsy” to right the ship and appeal to a broader base of voters. The report concluded that, “among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, must be to embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.”
On gay voters, the report noted, “Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.”
So what happened? Instead of immigration reform, we got Trump promising to bully Mexico into building a nearly 2,000-mile border fence, a laughable goal embraced by legions of his deluded supporters. Instead of moderating on gay rights, we got Rubio and Cruz vowing to attack us in new, creative ways and even contending that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage is not “settled law.” Trump, meanwhile, flip-flopped on previous pro-gay statements and pledged to reverse nationwide marriage equality, apparently unaware of how the three branches of government operate.
In short, the Republican Party is a non-starter for any serious minded LGBT voter who cares at all about his or her basic rights under the law. Make no mistake: If any of the Republicans manages to get elected, the LGBT community will be back on defense, fending off attacks on marriage equality, transgender rights and more. The next president will likely get multiple Supreme Court picks, raising concerns about fresh lawsuits seeking to undermine marriage equality. In addition, we can be sure that a Republican president would undo many of the various pro-LGBT administrative changes enacted by President Obama.
Priebus and the GOP establishment have lost control of their party. It’s been fun to watch, but the joke will be on us if Trump, Cruz or Rubio lands in the White House.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at email@example.com.