How Donald Trump Ruined the GOP’s Goal of Becoming a More Welcoming Party
By Clifford Michel
Slowly but surely, Donald J. Trump is destroying everything that the Republican Party has worked to become and is deeply affecting state politics in the process.
When Trump announced his candidacy in July of 2015, his speech rambled on and on but one line stuck out above the rest.
“[Mexico is] sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs,” said Trump. “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
The comment went viral and became the first of many vitriol filled platform points that Trump has turned to in order to rev up Republican primary voters.
The real-estate mogul tapped into a dormant hate that had been buried within droves of Republican voters and he’s decided to run with it. Gone with Trump’s rhetoric, was any chance for the Republican Party to reach a little known goal: to become more pluralistic and welcoming to undocumented immigrants.
After losing the presidential election in 2012, the GOP commissioned a report on itself—an autopsy outlining where the party was failing and analyzing the steps it needed to take in order to fix it.
The report, titled the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” cited the woeful fact that Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections.
“The federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself,” the report stated. “And unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.”
The first recommendation the report makes is to reach out to communities other than traditionally conservative voters, citing Hispanic voters specifically.
The 100-page document explained that the Hispanic population is growing rapidly and would become a key demographic going forward for Republicans to survive when the amount of white Americans shrinks to below 50% around 2050.
The authors of the report argue that compassionate conservatism combined with understanding and outreach could win over the Hispanic population.
The report also aggressively championed immigration reform.
“If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them, and show our sincerity,” the report stated.
“Among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.
“If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only,” the report read. “We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.”
As 2015 rolled around, the GOP began to roll out its deepest and most talented field of candidates in decades.
About 16 hopefuls with exciting ideas and colorful backgrounds threw their hat into the race.
Among them was Jeb Bush: a former Governor of Florida who spoke fluent Spanish, was married to a Mexican woman, and had a plan which led to amnesty and work permits for many undocumented citizens.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, sponsored a similar bipartisan bill in 2013 with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Bush is out of the race, his policy or anything like it will not be a part of the national conversation for years to come, as primary voters are drifting towards a nativist mindset, unleashed by Trump.
Rubio has backed away from his bill and will not consider immigration reform until the country “secures the border first.”
But Trump’s rhetoric reaches farther than national politics. His ideas have virtually transformed every facet of American politics.
In New York for example, the state Legislature has been debating for a few years whether or not to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide funds for undocumented students who don’t have access to TAP (Tuition Assistance Program).
Every year, the State Assembly, controlled by Democrats, passes it and the State Senate, controlled by Republicans, blocks it.
Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo linked the DREAM Act with a Catholic School tax credit popular with Republicans. After a heated budget season, both items failed to become law, but this year the atmosphere around the DREAM Act is much different.
Last month state Senate majority leader John Flanagan immediately dismissed any talk about the DREAM Act and killed even the chance of their being a linkage citing an obvious change in the political atmosphere.
“I oppose the Dream Act, and there’s no linkage,” he told reporters after a rally in Albany. “And it’s not the Dream Act. It’s taxpayer-funded tuition for illegal immigrants.”