It may come as a surprise to some, but the world has not stopped turning after Donald Trump issued his most incendiary proposal yet on Monday.
The Republican front-runner proclaimed that the only proper course for America to take in the wake of the San Bernardino attack was to bar further Muslim immigration into the country until “we know what the hell is going on.”
The reaction, from all corners of the political sphere, was hyperbolic. Liberals took the hyperventilation up to 11 and officially decided that Trump literally is the second coming of Adolf Hitler. That response was probably not too shocking considering how the Left has treated The Donald’s candidacy so far.
What’s more surprising is the equally-intense reaction from Republican leaders to the latest Trump controversy. Despite being one of the few Republicans to respond to American fears about mass Muslim immigration with an actual plan, the whole topic is beyond the pale according to GOP elites.
Nearly every fellow Republican candidate — with the notable exception of [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] — issued strongly-worded denunciations. Jeb Bush even wondered if Trump was a plant in the service of Hillary Clinton. (RELATED: Trump’s Republican Rivals Slam His Muslim Moratorium Proposal)
The focal point of House Speaker [crscore]Paul Ryan[/crscore]’s Tuesday press conference was excoriating the front-runner’s proposal and stating how it wasn’t conservative and wasn’t what the Republican Party was about. (RELATED: Paul Ryan Condemns Trump’s Muslim Moratorium Proposal: ‘This Is Not Conservatism’)
The leading Republican candidate for [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore]’s open seat in the U.S. Senate, Florida Rep. [crscore]David Jolly[/crscore], called on The Donald to drop out of the presidential campaign altogether.
Arguably, the most shocking denouncer of all was Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus — the party official most concerned with keeping Trump in the GOP fold. Priebus condemned the proposal as against “our American values” and said he in no way agreed with it.
The least shocking element incensed by the proposed Muslim ban were the majority of conservative media outlets and figureheads who’ve long made it known that they disdain the real estate mogul. Their attacks were just a bit more intense this time around.
If any other candidate received such a wide-ranging negative response from his own party on a topic like this, it would be a death sentence. But Trump looks poised once again to defy political logic and remain at the top of the polls. In fact, it’s very likely that his support could continue to rise in the aftermath of this latest outrage.
In the midst of the raging inferno surrounding Trump’s Muslim moratorium, Public Policy Polling released a revealing survey on Republican voters in North Carolina. Besides Trump leading the race with 33 percent and having a high favorability rating of 63 percent, PPP uncovered a large number of GOP voters with “Islamophobic” views that would make them likely to support The Donald’s moratorium — particularly among The Donald’s supporters.
That support was reflected in the roaring applause Trump received when he announced his moratorium at a Monday rally.
If it is somehow true (which it’s not) that, as Bush implied, Trump is some kind of Clinton plant, than the entire GOP establishment has to accept the fact that their opponents understand Republican voters far better than Republican chiefs do. Maybe that’s why Bush and others should stop pinning their failures to connect on crazy conspiracies.
Regardless of whether or not GOP voters fully support the Muslim moratorium, Trump is likely to be bolstered by the ordeal simply for offering a solution — however right or wrong — to a problem our leaders seem incapable of solving. Additionally, his refusal to apologize and his resolution in the face of the entire world demanding submission will further strengthen Trump’s politically incorrect, alpha male image the Republican rank-and-filers seem to love.
Meanwhile, the universal condemnation from GOP leaders will do them no favors. While it may appear to be a necessary maneuver to salvage their electoral chances, it’s not going to sit well with the majority of their base. Nor will they appease the incensed liberal press corps.
From a voter perspective, these statements will look weak in comparison with Trump’s apparent strength. Instead of coming from a position of principled resolve, the offended Republicans appear to be arguing from a position of weakness and political expediency. That’s because the rhetoric too often resembles that of aggrieved liberals, rather than that of unconvinced conservatives.
There are principled criticisms against Trump’s plan from the Right — such as Ben Shapiro’s — where alternative proposals to solve domestic radicalism are offered and level-headed facts are given for why America shouldn’t implement a total Muslim moratorium.
Swearing about ruining “our values” or playing into ISIS is what you would expect to hear from Salon, not from Republican leaders.
In the end, the Republican establishment is left with telling their voters that upholding American values depends entirely on the acceptance of thousands of Muslim immigrants every year — regardless of the cost.
Even more unfortunately for Republican leaders, they’re not likely to win any meaningful plaudits from the other side. Sure, Paul Ryan did get some golf claps for his speech, but that has seemingly only encouraged Democrats to demand more from the GOP. White House press secretary Josh Earnest called upon the other Republican presidential candidates to renege on their pledge to support Trump if he’s the nominee — or else they’re “disqualified.” (RELATED: White House: Trump’s Remark ‘Disqualifies’ Him From Being President)
Hillary Clinton said all Republicans still basically share the same views of Mr. Trump Tuesday night, in spite of the universal condemnation.
It’s likely that many in the media and in other powerful circles won’t be satisfied until the Republican Party meekly agrees to denounce every single one of Trump’s supporters.
Additionally, Republican critics are going to have to answer on how they’ll handle the domestic threat of radical Islam. GOP voters are probably not going to be swayed by tough talk on naming “radical Islam” and hoping a ground war against ISIS eliminates the danger to the homefront. The San Bernardino and Chattanooga attacks were not going to be stopped by having boots on the ground in Syria. Nor would it halt the homegrown radicalization happening in unassuming places like Minneapolis.
You can disagree with Trump’s plan, but if you’re a Republican hoping to secure the nomination, you’re going to have to put forward some kind of plan dealing with the issue of radicalized Muslim migrants.
Continuing to cry about “un-American” values gives Trump the edge when your base is demanding a solution and you’re hoping they fall for another ground war in the Middle East.
Whatever the outcome of the 2016 GOP primary, it should dawn on party leadership that they are sorely out of touch with their own supporters.