In the Oval Office, surrounded by senators from both parties, Donald Trump finally said out loud what everyone knew to be true. There are tons of different ways to view the President’s “shithole” comments, all equally upsetting in their own way. But perhaps the most illuminating aspect of Trump’s words today is not what they say about him, but what they say about the immigration debate as a whole and the true motivating factor of Republican cries for massively increased border security.
From the very beginning of Trump’s campaign, he has been lauded as the “tells it like it is” guy. And that by far has been his most useful aspect. He says and does the things other Republicans have always been too afraid to. He showed during his campaign that what the conservative base wants isn’t a reform of the refugee crisis, but a blanket ban of all Muslims from entering the country. By calling Haiti and other African countries shitholes, and immediately coveting Norwegians, he clearly and undebatably revealed the heart of the immigration debate. Namely, to keep the country white.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?... Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out”
To make their position on the matter even clearer, the White House not only corroborated the story by not denying it, but doubled down on the sentiment by saying it was an example of how Trump will fight for all Americans: “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people…” read the official statement from the White House this evening.
But the reaction of the White House shouldn’t be surprising. The shithole remark was nothing more than a succinct summation of Trump’s campaign. It’s what 81% of white evangelicals voted for. It’s what the policies of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were pushed aside for. Trump’s comments today is the modern Republican party platform.
The whole ordeal comes at an especially curious time, when many have had open discussions about the President’s intelligence. His supporters have spent the week making a full-fledge attempt at rationalizing his various off-the-wall tweets. If you want to believe them, then the President just speaks in a manner that isn’t political mumbo-jumbo. He speaks how the forgotten people of America speak.
In light of today’s comments, that rationalization is pretty damning. It means that the base of the Republican party doesn’t want to give an equal opportunity to immigrants. They want to make things difficult for anyone that comes from countries they deem as shitholes, while paving the way to citizenship for anyone from Europe.
The damage of the Trump presidency won’t be able to be fully reckoned with for a long time. But the benefits of his smashing of norms and institutions come on days like today when his words reveal the ugly truth that has suspected for so long. Today, Trump put it better than any activist on the other side ever could have. It’s racism and white supremacy that drives the immigration debate, and America knowingly and willingly voted for it. What a shithole.