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The GOP debate and the cowardly Mr. Trump

LEE A. DANIELS | 9/26/2015, 8:34 a.m.
Citizens of America: While you were distracted last week by, among other things, the Republican Party’s marathon, second primary debate, ...
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He collaborated with Rachel Robinson on her 1998 book, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. NNPA

This is what happens when you debase the honor of politics – which, after all, is the art of the possible, of compromise, of trying to work through opposing, or just complicated, points of view, of tolerating difference. When you debase “politics,” you open wide the door of the cesspool of intolerance.

Fittingly, Trump, whose callousness and racism have propelled him to the top of the Republican pile, has now shown in the most dramatic way the moral swamp that is the demagogue’s true character. For all his promises to, as president, stare down this and that world leader to get what he wants, the cowardly Trump couldn’t even stand up to a two-bit bigot in New Hampshire who demeaned the office of the presidency and called for the ethnic cleansing of all Muslim Americans.

What made Trump’s cowardice stand out even more was its coming just days after the shameful ordeal endured by 14-year-old Texas high schooler and technology whiz Ahmed Mohamed served to underscore the vast potential for “making America great again” that undoubtedly lies within America’s newest immigrant groups – and a vast number of native-born children who stand outside the gates of opportunity.

So, while we all calculate which of the Republican candidates won or lost from last week’s debate, the broader question we should also be considering is how long will American society be living with the virus of right-wing extremism let loose by the moral collapse of the Republican Party.

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist whose essay, Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Great Provocateur, appears in Africa’s Peacemakers: Nobel Peace Laureates of African Descent (2014), published by Zed Books. His new collection of columns, Race Forward: Facing America’s Racial Divide in 2014, is available at http://www.amazon.com.