Donald Trump is right about one thing: he is a “unifier.” In fact, he has united a despicable list of hate groups to support him, from the Klan to Louis Farrakhan. Who else but Trump could unite people who hate blacks with a black guy who hates Jews?
Trump really has inspired a veritable “Legion of Doom” of hate groups to take a ride on the Trump train. There’s the neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, that has run articles loudly endorsing Trump. Then we have former Klan leader David Duke, who touts Trump as the best candidate to ensure “that White-Americans are allowed to preserve and promote their heritage.”
Plus there’s Farrakhan, who stated just a few days ago about Trump, “I like what I’m looking at.” He specifically praised Trump for telling Jewish donors, “I don’t want your money.”
And those are just a few examples. The Trump coalition now features Latino, Muslim, Jewish, and African-American haters who have all come together to hold hands in a kumbaya fest of bigotry. And given that a South Carolina exit poll that found 70 percent of Trump supporters there want the Confederate flag to go back up over the state capitol, you get a sense many Trump supporters would feel pretty comfortable hanging out with the hate group members.
But perhaps more importantly, Trump has also brought together people from two political camps that are much more difficult to unite than the Klan and Farrakhan. I’m talking certain progressives and conservatives who have been at odds with each for years. And I don’t mean people who diplomatically disagreed. Rather I’m talking the ones who have viciously slammed each other.
In the last few days, a growing number of Republican elected officials have announced they wouldn’t vote for Trump if he’s the GOP nominee, from Sen. Ben Sasse to Gov. Charlie Barker to Rep. Scott Rigell—and the list goes on. I have never seen my progressive friends praise Republicans the way they are toasting these people for their “courage.”
And some of my friends who essentially made it their full time job in 2012 to attack Mitt Romney, were the first to praise Romney’s full-throated takedown of Trump on Thursday. It’s a bit bizarre to hear the same people who once called Romney horrible names now referring to him glowingly, and quoting his criticism of Trump on everything from his failed businesses to laughable foreign policy ideas.
On a personal level I have found myself changing my view— for the better—about some media figures on the right. For example, there’s conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who I slammed in past articles and who last year blocked me on Twitter, giving you a sense of how viciously we have disagreed. But just last week I found myself praising him over his recent declaration that he would not vote for Trump, who he views as a man who “preys on nationalistic, tribal tendencies and has an army of white supremacists online as his loudest cheerleaders.”
And then there’s conservative media figure Dana Loesch, who I also had run-ins with on Twitter. Loesch recently wrote a must-read article that details why she adamantly opposes Trump, which includes more vetting of Trump’s past business deals—than most in the mainstream media have done. When I tweeted this article out, many of my progressive friends shared it, uttering positive words about Loesch for possibly the first time ever.
Same goes for the editor of Commentary, John Podhoretz, with whom I also have engaged in some ugly fights on Twitter. (Considering all these people I have fought with on Twitter, maybe I’m the one with a problem.) But when Podhoretz recently declared on MSNBC that Trump was “a huge embarrassment” and penned an article in National Review slamming Trump, I began to see him in a different, more positive light.
I’m not naive enough to think that progressives and the likes of Glenn Beck (who has also came out hard against Trump) Erickson, Loesch, etc. are going to be hanging out any time braiding each other’s hair. I doubt we will even become Facebook friends.
But I must be honest that it was a genuinely a good feeling to agree with conservatives on an issue. For too long many of us have viewed each other not as fellow Americans with differing political views, but as the enemy. That somehow it was a fight to the figurative (or even literal) death to stop the other from achieving our respective goals.
I have to wonder if on some level the vitriol that we have spewed at each other has helped Trump’s ascendancy. Perhaps collectively we gave people a taste for red meat and all Trump did was up the ante by serving up a real-life version of the Flintstones’ brontosaurus steak.
If Trump loses the GOP nomination or the White House, I’m sure that conservatives and progressives will return to our full-scale war. But maybe, just maybe, we will view each other as fellow Americans who just happened to disagree, rather than as a clear and present danger to America. Perhaps we will even be more willing to admit that we agree from time to time or at least be more civil to each other.
Could this be the silver lining to Trump’s run for president?