NEW YORK -- Donald Trump has spent a week mired in a crisis of his own making. The billionaire property tycoon has been besieged by criticism over comments he made on June 16 during his 2016 campaign announcement in New York in which he referred to Mexicans as rapists.
On Wednesday, department store Macy’s said that Trump and his menswear collection (that actually exists) were no longer a good fit for their stores. In a statement, the brand publically denounced Trump’s comments about immigrants, assuring customers that their business had "no tolerance for discrimination in any form.”
Trump makes his announcement that he will be a Republican candidate for president, in New York on June 16, 2015
Even the golfing world, of which Trump is inextricably linked via his myriad courses, is turning against the 69-year-old. On Tuesday, after the popular Golf Channel noted Trump’s affiliations with the PGA, the billionaire said he didn't expect any repercussions over his remarks. “I’ve had tremendous support from the golf world, because they all know I’m right,” said the bombastic businessman.
The PGA issued a scathing statement on Wednesday in which it said it felt "compelled to clarify that those [Trump's] remarks do not reflect the views of our organisations." It continued: "While the LPGA, PGA of America, and PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on Presidential politics, Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”
Earlier this week, Broadcaster NBC dumped Trump’s Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. More notably, it said it would no longer use Trump as host for the hit reality TV show “The Apprentice.” NBC followed Univision, who announced last week that Spanish-language versions of the Trump pageants would no longer be broadcast on its network.
Members of America’s culturally powerful music industry, including Shakira, Ricky Martin and rapper Flo Rida, have also criticised the Republican presidential candidate.
Such are the dangers of populism. And however much Trump defends his remarks as “straight-talking” about border security, it seems very likely his words were designed to play to the prejudices of the unlettered masses. And when you promote yourself via prejudice, the more inclusive elements in society will inevitably seek distance.
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been an upside for the celebrity hotelier: Trump is polling second in the Republican presidential field, a CNN survey putting bewigged birther at 12%, second only to Jeb Bush (19%).
Trump (and his comments) appeal to older, more conservative Republicans, which makes him competitive in his pursuit of the GOP nomination. But this comes at a cost: public opprobrium from businesses and groups that cannot risk association with the man or his campaign.
The irony is, were Trump not running for office he could say whatever he wanted. Now that he is, he can’t. But it’s precisely because he’s running for office that he feels the need to boost his popularity amongst his target demographic -- the type of people who have sympathy with the view that Mexicans are rapists.
Nigel Farage speaks during a conference in which the party's immigration policy was unveiled on March 4, 2015 in London, England
Yet Trump isn’t the first politician (yes - he’s running for president) to sign this Faustian pact. Myriad hopefuls have made the same calculation, and on both sides of the Atlantic. Here are a few more:
"There are 7,000 diagnoses in this country every year for people who are HIV positive, but 60 percent of them are not for British nationals."
During the 2015 British election campaign, Nigel Farage suggested that foreigners with AIDS should not be treated on the NHS. The remarks prompted an outcry from across the political spectrum, while leaving Farage’s fellow party members in the unenviable situation of being unable to back the claim without being at odds with their leader. Although Ukip received more than 4 million votes, they exited the campaign with only one MP, while Farage failed to gain a parliamentary seat.
“A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight -- and when they come out, they’re gay."
Responding to a question on CNN of whether homosexuality is a choice, doctor and presidential candidate Ben Carson said “absolutely,” backing up his claim with following: “A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight -- and when they come out, they’re gay.” It’s a view likely to chime with his Tea Party supporters, but nationally it didn’t fly. Hours later, Carson was back peddling, releasing a statement offering “regret” for his “hurtful and divisive” words.
Obama's worldview is "very different than the average American."
In 2011, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (who is running for the White House in 2016) played to his party’s base by echoing the conspiracy theory that President Obama grew up in Kenya. He said this made Obama’s worldview "very different than the average American." After widespread condemnation, Huckabee quickly found himself trying to limit the damage, calling his remarks a “verbal gaffe” on a hastily arranged Fox News appearance.
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