Instead of Calling Him a ‘Jerk,’ Bush Should Say ‘Donald Trump Is Making Overtly Fascist Appeals’

Instead of Calling Him a ‘Jerk,’ Bush Should Say ‘Donald Trump Is Making Overtly Fascist Appeals’

Instead of Calling Him a ‘Jerk,’ Bush Should Say ‘Donald Trump Is Making Overtly Fascist Appeals’

While Republicans pull their punches and embarrass themselves, Democrat Martin O’Malley says what should be said.

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Donald Trump is finishing 2015 with an expanding lead in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination: The latest CNN poll has the billionaire 21 points ahead of Texas Senator Ted Cruz—the Trump-lite candidate who has kept competitive by absolutely refusing to challenge the front-runner’s anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim ranting and raving.

While Cruz and Trump battle it out for the lead among hyper-conservative Republicans in the first-caucus state of Iowa, Trump has double-digit advantages just about everywhere else. In the first-primary state of New Hampshire, the latest CBS poll has Trump up 18 points over Cruz. In South Carolina, CBS has Trump leading Cruz by 15 points in the CBS poll.

So the Republican race is shaping up as Trump versus the candidate who will not challenge Trumpism.

The lesser Republicans—who are extreme in their conservatism, but perhaps not entirely off the deep end—are either giving up (as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham did on Monday) or getting nowhere.

As CNN’s polling director says, “Donald Trump seems set to end 2015 as the dominant force in the race for next year’s Republican nomination for president.”

There’s a reason for this.

While Cruz plays along with Trump, the Republicans who are supposedly calling out the front-runner either pull their punches or embarrass themselves. Sometimes, they do both at the same time.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the still well-funded candidate of the party elites and their corporate compatriots, can barely muster a coherent line in his attempt to trump Trump. The other day, Bush closed off a New Hampshire town-hall meeting by saying (with apparent self-satisfaction), “Just one other thing—I gotta get this off my chest—Donald Trump is a jerk.”

That powerful rhetoric has gotten Bush to 2 percent in the latest CBS poll of Republicans in Iowa.

The same CBS survey had Democrat Martin O’Malley at 4 percent in Iowa.

O’Malley gets scant media coverage in comparison with Bush. O’Malley is stuck with a Democratic debate schedule that has made a priority of obscurity rather than ratings. And O’Malley’s campaign treasury looks like “petty cash” compared with Bush. Yet, a PPP poll from last week gave O’Malley 9 percent support, while Bush was at 7. Indeed, according to the Real Clear Politics survey of all recent polls, the former Democratic governor of Maryland has moved up to a point where he is now essentially even with the former Republican governor of Florida—O’Malley 4.3 percent, Bush 4.4 percent.

O’Malley still has a long way to go in the Democratic race. But he certainly seems to be getting more things right than Bush. (Admittedly, that is not a tall order.)

On NECN’s Broadside program—which airs in New Hampshire and other New England states—O’Malley was asked this week about Donald Trump.

“My definition of a fascist is a man who wants to set aside constitutional and individual rights including the right to worship freely in our nation and wants to scapegoat a whole group of people and issue ID cards to people based on their faith,” O’Malley responded. “I think all of those are the sort of overt appeals that history has shown us precedes fascism. And that makes them part of the fascist appeals. So yes, I do believe that Donald Trump is making overtly fascist appeals. The first time the leader in the Republican Party contest doesn’t believe in the constitution. And we all need to call him out on that, frankly.”

If Bush or one of the other Republican contenders were to begin speaking as strongly as O’Malley just did, that would generate headlines. And it might just get a real debate going in the Republican party. Until Bush and the rest of the establishment Republicans speak up, Trump will go from strength to strength—perhaps bringing Cruz along with him, perhaps not—and American politics will degenerate further into the swamp of Trumpism.

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