From Michael J. Mishak writing at the National Journal:
In American politics, few charges carry more weight than when one public figure accuses another of being a racist, with repercussions so great that most politicians prefer to dance around the topic entirely. But in attacking Donald Trump, critics on his left and right are increasingly willing to make the leap.
Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders has blasted Trump for “old-fashioned racism.” When the Republican front-runner on Monday called for barring all Muslims from entering the U.S., Hillary Clinton called it “reprehensible, prejudiced, and divisive.” Among his most ardent Republican critics is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who recently attacked Trump with an ad invoking Nazi Germany, citing the billionaire businessman’s ongoing attacks on ethnic minorities. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank was most direct, titling a recent piece: “Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.”
It’s not that Trump’s accusers lack evidence. Monday’s call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” is only the latest in a long line of attacks against nonwhites and non-Christians since Trump began his campaign. He has called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers; affirmed a physical attack on a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his rallies; flirted with an endorsement of a registry for all U.S. Muslims; and repeatedly asserted a widely-debunked claim that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey were seen celebrating in the streets after the 9/11 attacks.
If Trump’s rhetoric has disgusted the Milbanks, Kasichs and Clintons of the world, it certainly hasn’t knocked Trump from his perch atop the polls. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, Trump now has the support of 36 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, nearly a 10-point jump in the last month.
What’s less clear, however, is how Trump’s rhetoric on race and his ongoing popularity are related. In short, are Trump’s supporters with him because he’s saying the racist things other candidates won’t, or is it something else that has helped Trump build his movement?
Read the rest at National Journal.