Greg Sargent compares Donald Trump’s TV ad to the anti-immigration campaign by Gov. Pete Wilson that cost the GOP California on The Plumline in the Washington Post.
As the final, frenzied push towards the first Presidential voting begins, Donald Trump has unveiled a riveting new television ad that perfectly sums up Trumpism in all its xenophobic glory — and also perfectly captures the problem Trumpism has created for the Republican Party.
The ad, which is set to run extensively in Iowa and New Hampshire, has it all. It reiterates his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, and links this directly to the need to combat “radical Islamic terrorism.” It also again vows to “stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for.” All of this leads up to the grand conclusion, in which Trump himself vows to “make America great again.”
But here’s something notable: Trump’s spot looks very much like the heavily-immigration-themed ads run by California Governor Pete Wilson in the 1990s. Wilson helped secure passage of the infamous “Proposition 187,” which sought to bar illegal immigrants from a range of state services and is widely believed to have driven Latinos away from the California GOP and set it on a path into the demographic wilderness.
If you think this comparison is a stretch, note that California Republicans also see warnings for today’s GOP in the wrong turn the party took in that state in the 1990s. E.J. Dionne’s terrific new book on American conservatism features an interview with GOP state chairman Jim Butte, who says this: “California is the leading edge of the country’s demographic changes. Frankly, Republicans in California did not react quickly enough to them, and we have paid a horrible price.”
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center