So this morning, Donald J. Trump tweeted out a White Nationalist dog whistle meme (on the right, the star of David over a pile of money) then faced with backlash, replaced it (on the left, benign circle). If you're keeping score at home, the country officially has it's first White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi presidential candidate, and he's rallying the Republican base like no one has since Reagan.
This is not a "slip-up."
This happens because you recruit those with shared values to work for you, and you hand them the keys to various positions of power. In this case, the media team and the designer believe- through training, personal beliefs and experience- that the way to rally and outrage is through symbols like those found on conspiracy websites, email screeds that your cousin forwards from his basement lair, and Alex Jones publications.
But why wouldn't you be more subtle in infusing your outreach with dogma? Because if you feel marginalized, and an isolated, hateful worldview is the prism through which you view the world, bringing this conspiracy aesthetic to a like-minded national political campaign is an enormous opportunity for you to spread the word.
Also, and more frightening, is the possibility that you don't know any better. Just think about that for a second. This design and social media post didn't set off a single alarm bell for anyone in the Trump campaign.
To pull this apart is to unravel a few horrifying truths:
1. White Nationalism is a defining plank of Trump's campaign, undeniably.
2. No one is leading, managing or protecting Trump's campaign from itself, or from Trump.
3. FoxNews and other right-wing media and politicians continue to work hard to propagandize on his behalf.
IN OTHER WORDS, the 2016 election has pulled back the curtain like never before to reveal the true Id of the Republican Party, and it's hideous.
Wall off Mexicans...
Track and isolate Muslims...
Watch out for Jews and their money...
Bomb terrorist ideology out of existence...
If it only it were that easy to destroy an ideology. Bad hearts and cruel minds can be *restrained* by legislation or force, but you can't *kill* ideology. If you could, we would've defeated "terror" generations ago.
(And yes, I'm FULLY aware I'm comparing Trumpism and the GOP to terrorists. Extremism is extremism is extremism. And if you had any doubt before today, I'll refer you again to today's Trump-approved tweet labeling Hillary Clinton a Jew-loving, money-grubbing Illuminati. Where do you think that leads when the tweeter becomes head of state?)
Ideas can only be defeated by ideas.
So here's my idea, my plea, to anyone and everyone on the right.
The job of a politician, a true leader, is to guide your sacrifice and commitment to ideas greater than yourself. Ask yourself, is my leader calling me to something greater, or encouraging me to be someone smaller?
The presidency is for those who would say, "we must progress, despite your discomfort."
The presidency is for those who say, "I understand your fear, and together we'll move past it."
The presidency if for those who say, "I will take the first step, to show you it's safe."
So ask yourself,
"How is my candidate responding to my fear? Are they asking me face it? To challenge myself and my beliefs? Or are they asking me to embrace it, to codify it, to turn it into sometimes violent action?"
I have a little faith in people. I believe that asking these questions of oneself can change a heart or two. I really do. These questions won't destroy Trump or the GOP, or FoxNews, but they have the power to undermine the great wall of hate, to chip away at it person by person.