Cruz and Kasich have now both suspended their campaigns, leaving Trump as the sole contender for the Republican nomination. That still isn’t stopping people from trying to figure out how to nominate someone else, but the chances of that are looking pretty grim right now.
After winning a couple more primaries earlier this week, Trump used his victory speech as an opportunity to plug various Trump-branded products. That is already one of the most bizarre things to happen in a presidential race since I can remember. It’s already been pointed out various times that many presidential campaigns seem to be little more than vanity projects meant to drum up support for a new book or a sinecure at a partisan think tank. But, what makes this even worse is that most of the products either aren’t owned by Trump or don’t actually exist anymore.
Trump University, Donald Trump’s ill-conceived foray into “higher” “education” from the mid-2000s has suddenly been all over the news. There are multi-million dollar lawsuits coming up soon and a torrent of criticism from other Republican candidates.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Trump University was a program where customers could pay tens of thousands of dollars for various business seminars and other resources sponsored by Trump. It eventually turned out that the state of New York doesn’t look too kindly on businesses calling themselves universities without actually being universities, so the venture had to change its name. Regardless, there are legal claims that Trump University didn’t even provide the kinds of services that it claimed it would (even ignoring the lack of being anything resembling a university). I, for one, am mostly surprised that anyone didn’t think that the whole thing sounded like a scam. (To be fair, it did provide some actual services for all the money that was spent on it so it, just maybe not what people were expecting according to the lawsuits.)
Well, we’ve survived Republican primary debate #2. Unfortunately, it was not a great day for science. Late in the debate, Trump went on a rant about how the vaccine schedule should be changed because it is causing autism. In fact, he’s even seen a small child with autism, which makes him an authority on its etiology. There were even two candidates who come from the medical field who were there: Rand Paul and Ben Carson, but neither gave a satisfactory response.
Carson correctly pointed out that there is no evidence of any link between vaccines and autism. The infamous Wakefield paper originally claiming this has been debunked and retracted by the journal, with Wakefield seen as a disgrace to his field by everyone with any credibility in medicine. Unfortunately, Carson also decided to pander to the anti-vaccine crowd by agreeing with Trump that the the vaccine schedule should be changed. He should have just stopped when he said that there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism. Trying to please everyone may be optimal for gaining supporters, but it’s also quite dangerous since it lends those with an unfounded claim far more credibility than they deserve. Rand Paul made a similar comment supporting delaying some vaccinations.
Surely one of the eleven candidates is knowledgable enough to know that Trump’s comments are quite dangerous and should be challenged. I suspect that at the very least both Carson and Paul know this but maybe were unwilling to give such a direct challenge as that might lose them some supporters (although it might gain some too). So, while Trump was the one to actually make anti-vaccine arguments, the silence or partial support from the other candidates means that no one really looks good here. Our immune systems can do many things, and there is basically no reason to think that a small number of vaccines would have any real affect on us considering how much bacteria we encounter every day. As the cliche goes, an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence, yet we don’t even have any ordinary evidence.
The New York Times has a new editorial summarizing much of the response from the broader Hispanic community to Donald Trump’s campaign. There has been widespread criticism of Trump’s comments as well as his positions from all sorts of people – not just immigrants. In fact, there isn’t a unified Hispanic (or Latino, which seems to be preferred more on the west coast) community at all. There are various communities from the various countries in Latin America, and these communities can face very different issues and can have very different opinions from one another. However, it looks like opposition to Trump is something that may be unifying everyone. Even the National Review thinks that Trump is dangerously cultivating support among white supremacists (and they have plenty of experience dealing with white nationalists…).
It seems that the bizarre rise of Trump as the leading Republican candidate may have come with the reemergence of a number of issues that haven’t been around for a while. One that has been in the news this week is the English only movement. A few election cycles ago, the principal champion of English only was none other than Colorado’s Tom Tancredo, who has since disappeared into relative obscurity.
The most prominent story regarding this was, predictably, instigated by Donald Trump, who lambasted Jeb Bush for responding to a question in Spanish by speaking Spanish. The idea that English should be the only language of the US is seen by many (and I think correctly so) as little more than thinly veiled bigotry against immigrants from Latin America. Obligating new immigrants to learn English before or immediately upon arrival and then use it almost exclusively is asking them to assimilate much faster and much more completely than any previous immigrant group. It’s not practical and also flies in the face of how the US has historically dealt with immigration. There are still immigrant communities in the US that primarily speak their original language generations after moving to the US, yet many of these are looked on with pride. Somehow people speaking Spanish is an affront to American values yet there is little hand-wringing over immigrants who speak other European languages and struggle with English many years after immigrating.
Furthermore, the US has always had many languages. English has never been the official national language and is not native to the US. There are still thousands of native speakers of indigenous languages, and there are plenty of communities that historically speak non-English European languages.
I think the correct answer to this issue could be summed up like this:
If you didn’t want people to speak Spanish in the US then you shouldn’t have annexed Spanish speaking countries or built an economy dependent on Spanish-speaking immigrants.
After making a series of characteristically bigoted remarks, Donald Trump now finds himself fired. Both Univision and NBC have cut ties with Trump amidst widespread criticism of Trump, particularly from Latin American communities and organizations. What must be most galling to Trump is that NBC is planning to continue his TV show, The Apprentice, without him.
The removal of Trump from television also conveniently solves a dilemma for NBC. If Trump is really serious about running for office, the NBC would have been forced to either stop airing Trump’s shows or to dramatically increase coverage of other campaigns. Of course, it’s impossible to tell for sure just how serious Trump really is. One gets the feeling that a Trump campaign would be little more than a high profile advertising campaign for the Trump brand. As it is, no one with any sense respects Trump’s brand but a campaign would do a lot to get his name in the papers a lot more.