Islamic terrorists have killed dozens of people and injured hundreds in a series of attacks on Brussels, Belgium.
On the same day, the United States will hold presidential primary elections in Arizona, Utah, and Idaho.
Donald Trump is the Republican front runner. If elected, he would become the Commander in Chief of the United States military and the country's chief diplomat.
The Washington Post's Editorial Board recently met with Donald Trump. They described their conclusions as follows:
As Donald Trump observed during a visit to The Post on Monday, we have been critical of his candidacy, so give him credit for agreeing to sit down with us and answer questions for more than an hour.
Unfortunately, the visit provided no reassurance regarding Mr. Trump’s fitness for the presidency. “I’m not a radical person,” he told us as he was leaving. But his answers left little doubt how radical a risk the nation would be taking in entrusting the White House to him.
There was, first, a breezy willingness to ignore facts and evidence. Are there racial disparities in law enforcement? “I’ve read where there are and I’ve read where there aren’t,” Mr. Trump said. “I mean, I’ve read both. And, you know, I have no opinion on that.” Global warming? “I am not a great believer in man-made climate change,” he said.
In that, Mr. Trump is not different from many Republican politicians these days. But no one can match the chasm between his expansive goals and the absence of proposals to achieve them. He would remake the nation’s libel laws, but how, given Supreme Court jurisprudence on the First Amendment? “I’d have to get my lawyers in to tell you,” he said. How could he implement a ban on noncitizen Muslims entering the country? “Well look, there’s many exceptions,” he said. “There’s many — everything, you’re going to go through a process.”
Such a conclusion will fall on deaf ears among Trump's supporters and Republican voters en masse.
Donald Trump is a personality driven candidate who is extremely deft in manipulating white racism, xenophobia, nativism, and Right-wing producerism to maximum effect.
The chattering classes have discussed Trump’s ascendance as a symptom of a Republican Party that is broken internally and which has become a slave to the disinformation and political theater of Fox News and the broader Right-wing echo chamber.
The polling data suggests that Donald Trump would be easily defeated by either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. In my writing here and elsewhere, I have suggested that Trump’s well of support is both deeper and wider than the polling data suggests. To wit: he is mobilizing white working class authoritarians, overt white supremacists, angry white populists, and other people who know and feel—in their hearts, minds, and pocketbooks—that “the game” is rigged against them in American society.
One of the concerns about the power of Donald Trump’s ability to metastasize, and thus become an inexorable force on the Right-wing and perhaps even among independent, undecided, and “Reagan Democrat” voters, is if there was an Islamic terrorist attack on the United States—or alternatively more attacks in Europe like those that hit Paris in November of last year.
Fear is a powerful motivator for human behavior. It has an especially compelling pull over conservative-authoritarians. George W. Bush used Americans’ fear of terrorism after September 11, 2001 to win a second term in office. Donald Trump is attempting to leverage white victimology politics and too many (conservative) Americans’ fears of “Muslims”, “Arabs”, and the Other more generally, to pave his way to the White House in November 2016.
Republican voters are primed for manipulation based on anxieties about “Muslims” and “terrorism”. William Saletan’s excellent and much cited piece summarizes the data as follows:
A Rasmussen survey, also taken after Carson’s statement, asked likely voters: “Would you personally be willing to vote for a Muslim president?” Seventy-three percent of Republicans said they wouldn’t…Polling by the New York Times complements these findings:
During this time, from September to October, the Public Religion Research Institute broadened the investigation beyond presidential voting. To get at broader attitudes toward Muslims, PRRI asked nearly 2,700 Americans to consider a statement: “The values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life.” Fifty-two percent of Democrats disagreed with the statement. But 57 percent of independents agreed with it. So did 76 percent of Republicans.
In a two-week frenzy beginning on Oct. 31, ISIS slaughtered more than 400 people around the world. First it killed 224 passengers on a Russian airliner. Then it blew up another 43 in Beirut. Then, on Nov. 13, it slew another 130 in Paris. After the Paris attack, U.S. pollsters asked about Muslims again. A Bloomberg survey, taken from Nov. 15 to 17, asked Americans which of two statements came closer to their views. One statement was: “Islam is an inherently violent religion, which leads its followers to violent acts.” The other statement was: “Islam is an inherently peaceful religion, but there are some who twist its teachings to justify violence.” Most Republicans chose the “inherently peaceful” version. But 32 percent (compared with 17 percent of Democrats) chose the statement that Islam was inherently violent.
In a YouGov/Economist poll conducted from Nov. 19 to 23, 71 percent of Republicans, compared with 45 percent of independents and 39 percent of Democrats, said Muslims posed at least a “somewhat serious threat” to the United States. Forty-seven percent of Republicans, compared with 28 percent of independents and 22 percent of Democrats, said Muslims posed an “immediate and serious threat.” Only 22 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of independents said they thought that the majority of Muslims worldwide supported ISIS. But 46 percent of Republicans said the majority of Muslims supported ISIS.
Would this deepening anti-Muslim sentiment create popular support for policies that explicitly targeted Muslim Americans? To answer that question, a Rasmussen survey on Nov. 17 and 18 asked likely voters: “Should most individual Muslims be monitored by the government as potential terrorists?” Only 24 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents said yes. But a 43 percent plurality of Republicans supported the idea…
A new New York Times/CBS News poll found that Republicans have more confidence in Trump to address terror than any other candidate. Seven in 10 voters said he was well equipped on the issue.
“Trumpania” and the terrorist attacks in Paris, and now Belgium, are the stuff of a techno thriller that a tired traveler would buy in an overpriced airport bookstore.
There is one man who will be the main beneficiary from such horrors: his name is Donald Trump. Later today, he will ride the coattails of terrorism, fear, and anxiety during the Republican primaries in Arizona and Utah.
The blood flowing across Brussels may translate into voters for Donald Trump.