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Editorial| The deeper shame of Donald Trump

Published:Thursday | August 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM

This week Barack Obama, the American president, posed a serious and substantive ethical question to the leadership of the Republican Party about what it says of their party and themselves that Donald Trump is, and remains, their standard-bearer for the presidency in the November election.

It is a question that we hope they not only take seriously, but to which they arrive at the obviously right answer if they hope to rescue the Republican brand and ensure America's continued standing in the world, not only because of its economic and military might, but as a moral force. If they come to the right conclusion they will conclude, as have an increasing number of liberated Republican minds, and this newspaper has argued, that Mr Trump is unfit to be president of the United States.

We, like people in ever part of the world, often have differences with the United States if America. We disagree, sometimes, with elements of what we believe to be a skewed foreign policy and may abhor the cause to which that policy is formulated, articulated and implemented. These disagreements, notwithstanding, people see America as more than a single dimensional, monochromatic entity. It is for all its contradictions, or because of them, a country that, ultimately, stands for the right things, upholding the best values, as guaranteed by the constitution and the vision of a confident and creative people.

There was, too, solace in the presumption that a vibrant, thinking democracy, that has spawned a great civilisation and had helped to halt the authoritarians and fascists who would have subjugated Europe, would prove a bulwark against the emergence of demagogues at home.

And now there is Mr Trump, the Republican Party nominee for president, who rose to the position on a campaign of pandering to grievance, xenophobia, ethnic baiting and misogynistic insults. He promotes vision of a dystopian America, for which he blames the supposed absence of muscular leadership and political correctness and which he will fix by building a wall to keep out, as he branded them, illegal drug dealing, rapist Mexican illegal immigrants and by banning Muslims. And listen keenly and there is a dog whistle in Mr Trump's rhetoric against other people of colour.


Dangerous to peace


Moreover, a man who would occupy the most powerful seat on the globe is not only thin-skinned and narcissistic, but has shown himself ignorant of world affairs, and, should he become president, dangerous to peace and humankind. Like Francois Hollande, the French president, the prospect of Mr Trump in the White House, makes us "feel nauseous".

But as we have argued before, Donald Trump didn't just happen. He is the product of more than two decades of a permissive malfeasance by the Republican Party, and its willingness to embrace almost anyone purveying intellectual ideas promoting that sense of grievance and denigrated opponents. So, it was alright for Mr Trump to question whether Mr Obama was really an America or Rush Limbaugh to promote gridlock in Congress.

The question now is, as has been posed by Mr Obama, now that Mr Trump's ignorance has proved more than episodic, is whether the Republic leadership can continue to support this divisive, know-nothing to be president, merely because he purports membership of their party.

The stomach-churning prospect of Mr Trump in the Oval Office ought to make them say no.