President Obama had some harsh, sobering words about the 2016 presidential campaign during a St. Patrick's Day luncheon on Capitol Hill.
In a speech he bitterly remarked that, "The longer that we allow the political rhetoric of late to continue, and the longer that we tacitly accept it, we create a permission structure that allows the animosity in one corner of our politics to infect our broader society, and animosity breeds animosity.”
"We've seen actual violence and we've heard silence from too many of our leaders. Too often, we've accepted this as the new normal. It's worth asking ourselves what each of us may have done to contribute to this kind of vicious atmosphere in our politics," he added.
He’s right. While some Republican leaders—such as House Speaker Paul Ryan—have come out and denounced Donald Trump and his appallingly offensive rhetoric, most have remained disconcertingly quiet, even endorsing and supporting the front-runner (such as New Jersey governor Chris Christie).
However, even as individuals such as Ryan heavily criticized Trump, they admitted they would ultimately support the Republican nominee, which is an incredibly unprincipled stance to take.
Trump has incited and commended acts of violence against protesters at his rallies, which is unheard of for a presidential candidate. He has urged his supporters to punch protesters, boasting that he would pay any legal fees, and there have been countless incidents of violent, troubling behavior at his rallies.
Condemnation of Trump should transcend all party affiliations; if Trump does get the nomination and Ryan, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, among others, continue to support his campaign, it spells the end for the Republican Party.
Obama pointed to the ramifications Trump would have on the universal perception of America: “This is also about the American brand. Who are we? How are we perceived around the world? The world pays attention to what we say and what we do."
World leaders have already commented on the disturbing nature of Trump—the British Parliament held a hearing, debating whether they should ban Trump from the country, and French, Dutch, Australian, and Canadian leaders have all denounced his hateful speech.
Obama concluded that, “While some may be more to blame than others for the current climate, all of us are responsible for reversing it. For it is a cycle that is not an accurate representation of America, and it has to stop."
This is statement applies to the media, politicians, and the public—continuing to award Trump even a semblance of legitimacy is only going to lead to America’s downfall.
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