2016, Donald Trump — August 30, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Trump and Limbaugh admit that GOP voters want racial resentment, not policy


Trump’s anger at Obama and immigrants make up for his total lack of policies, knowledge, and consistency


It should have been the last episode of the The Rush Limbaugh Show  — the big reveal with the “surprise” ending everyone saw coming.

On Monday, Rush explained why he didn’t consider Trump’s decision to de-emphasize deportations in his immigration “policy” a flip-flop.

“This is going to enrage you,” he told a caller, who was enraged by Trump’s perceived flip. “You know, I could choose a path here to try to mollify you, but — I never took [Trump] seriously on this.”

You mean it’s all a big con?

Trump made firm vows to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants a key rallying cry of his campaign as he bashed his Republican competitors for embracing “amnesty.” And now he’s just backing away from those sacred vows like they’re contractors trying to collect the cash he owes them?

Not really, he’s only pretending to “soften” on the issue, as The Plum Line‘s Greg Sargent points out, or “harden” — depending on the audience.

So Trump’s new “policy” is mass deportations without talking about “mass deportations.” The same policy, changed words.

That should be a relief to Limbaugh, who seemed to take Trump very seriously on this subject late last year, as Allahpundit points out on the Hot Air blog. But he’s already given up the game — it isn’t about policy at all. It’s about channeling frustrations that you nurture by avoiding actual policies.

In other words, the GOP nominee has adopted the general Republican cop-out on immigration.

That goes like this: Yell “Secure the border first” — even though the border is more secure than it’s been in most of our lifetimes — and then basically propose no reform of any significance while focusing on how bad you want to deport people, criminals especially, while pretending that President Obama hasn’t been doing that for years.

This is what even Marco Rubio says now after rejecting his own immigration bill, which actually would do more to “secure” and (over)militarize the border than anything any Republican has proposed (since the idea of a wall is more a physical metaphor for a fear of brown people than a useful proposal).

Trump, Rubio and even Rush seem to be playing out the party’s central conundrum: if you believe the polls, a huge chunk of Republican primary voters will settle for nothing less than deportations of 11 million immigrants, while a vast majority of Americans and even a majority, or at least a plurality, of all Republicans, want a path to citizenship.

But that assumes this is about policy. It obviously isn’t.

If the immigration debate were actually about wages and jobs, as “serious” anti-elitist Republicans tell us it is, there are a lot better policies for improving workers’ fates including encouraging unionization and increasing government investment.

But the GOP isn’t selling policy. It’s selling resentment, resentment that racializes spending and labor unions as things that only help “them” to justify cutting taxes and obligations for the rich and their corporations. If you can get the mass of voters to worry about brown people more than anything, they’ll ignore the guys at the top drinking our milkshake in the form of all the income gains of the last century.

The GOP primary turned out to be a contest of who could best become the personification of the GOP base’s resentment.

Trump won.

Could Trump have won the GOP primary without emphasizing deportations?

The Atlantic‘s Ronald Brownstein and Leah Askarinam aren’t so sure.

But Mitt Romney’s former strategist Stuart Stevens is pretty certain that the policy details didn’t matter in the least.

Here’s what Stevens told Brownstein and Askarinam:

“Trump’s entire campaign, primary and general, has been based on an appeal to an ugly strain of resentment: resentment toward immigrants, resentment toward those who practice a different religion, [who] aren’t white. It’s as if the Democrats had nominated George Wallace, though Wallace had more respect for governing and understood policy far better than Trump. Hate is Trump’s jet fuel. If it hadn’t been immigration it would have been something else.”

Would Rush agree with that? Probably not in so many words. But basically.

When that angry caller told the host that 10 million people cared about Trump’s immigration policy in the GOP primary, Limbaugh didn’t seemed to worried about disappointing them.

“Yeah, and they still don’t care!” he said. “My point is, they still don’t care! They’re going to stick with him no matter what.”

And scene.

[Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]