Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Aren’t the Problem. Republicans Are.
In a year when Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump propose massive spending on the military, Dresden-style carpet bombing, the eroding civil liberties protections, promote discrimination on the basis of religion, the torture of suspects, and the killing of suspects’ families, when these candidates term whole nations of brown-skinned people criminals and rapists and refuse to repudiate the nation’s most famous Ku Klux Klansman, it’s tempting to lay blame for all this at the feet of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in particular. Wouldn’t it be nice if, when Ted Cruz and Donald Trump fell from their political pedestals, their odious approaches to politics and American civic life would just disappear, too?
But here’s the problem: Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination for a reason. Republicans still tend to support bigotry.
How can I make such a blanket statement? Because it’s true.
Consider the Pew Research Center’s latest nationally-representative poll of Cruz and Trump supporters, comparing them to others. Results indicate:
- 51% of Cruz supporters and 69% of Trump supporters agree with the statement that “Immigrants today are a burden on our country.” Just 17% of Clinton supporters and 14% of Sanders supporters do.
- 53% of Cruz supporters and 64% of Trump supporters agree that “U.S. Muslims should be subject to more scrutiny.” Just 22% of Clinton supporters and 12% of Sanders supporters do.
- A full 32% of Cruz supporters and 47% of Trump supporters disagree with the statement that “personally insulting political opponents is never fair game.” Only 25% of Clinton and Sanders supporters disagree with that statement.
- Only 48% of Cruz supporters and 39% of Trump supporters agree that “an increasing number of people of different races and ethnicities makes the U.S. a better place to live.” 72% of Clinton supporters and 73% of Sanders supporters agree.
- 70% of Cruz supporters and 52% of Trump supporters oppose allowing gay and lesbian people the legal right to marry. Only 26% of Clinton supporters and 15% of Sanders supporters oppose legal rights for gay and lesbian married couples.
In short, it’s not just Ted Cruz and Donald Trump who are bigots. Their supporters are disproporationately likely to be bigots, too.
What about those nice, non-bigoted Republicans some people keep insisting are out there? According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, they are few and far between. Despite all the outlandish, discriminatory and even violent statements by Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, only 17% of Republicans indicate that they wouldn’t support Donald Trump for President if he were the nominee. Only 19% of Republicans indicate that they wouldn’t support Ted Cruz if he were the nominee. All the rest might have reservations, they might not agree with Trump or Cruz, but nevertheless they’d support Trump or Cruz for President, fulfilling their role as loyal Republicans.
No matter how nice American Republicans may seem, large majorities of them are either personally bigoted or willing to go along and support a bigot for U.S. President. Cruz and Trump wouldn’t be a problem without them. American Republicans are the problem.