The Growing Donald Trump Backlash, And Why It Sadly Doesn’t Matter

Published December 10, 2015
Updated January 17, 2018

The Donald Trump backlash has begun in earnest, with everyone from celebrities to his own party taking shots at him. But will any of it make a difference to his supporters?

Trump Lede

GOP presidential contender Donald Trump has taken a massive public beating this week — but it might not really matter. Image Source: Flickr

Donald Trump is taking uuuge hits from all sides this week: in the United Kingdom, a petition to ban the Donald from entry has already received nearly five times the votes it needs to be debated by British Parliament. His GOP peers and opponents have compared him to Hitler, claiming his remarks are so extreme that they don’t have a place within the already-radicalizing party. Even pop culture legends like Muhammad Ali have come out against the GOP presidential hopeful.

And yet, he remains the frontrunner. Below is an update on the Trump backlash, and why it might not have the effect its participants desire:

1. Nearly half a million people (and counting) sign petition to ban Trump from entering the UK
Following Trump’s Monday proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., the UK responded in kind and created a petition to block Trump from entering its borders.

Suzanne Kelly, a woman from Aberdeen, Scotland who has a history of campaigning against Trump’s business practices and politics, created the petition, which reads: “The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK.”

Kelly Trump

Suzanne Kelly was the woman behind the UK petition to ban Trump from entering the country. Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, The Aberdeen Voice

It continues, saying that “If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behavior’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful.”

In mere days, the petition received several hundred thousand votes. A petition needs at least 100,000 signatures to be considered for debate by Parliament’s Petitions Committee, which then decides if they will send the petition in for debate by Parliament. As of now, the committee will decide what to do with it on Jan. 5, according to CNN.

The petition’s astonishing number of signatures might also have to do with the fact that days after his remarks on Muslim entry to the States, he followed by saying that parts of London were so radicalized that British police feared for their lives, wrote CNN.

This inspired the ire of the British public and officials alike, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying that Trump’s assertions were “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.” London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, responded with more rancor, saying that “Donald Trump’s ill-informed comments are complete and utter nonsense. The only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.” These comments hold even more weight when you consider that both of these men are considered conservative figureheads in Britain.

2. Key GOP figures distance themselves from Trump
Trump’s Monday remarks inspired such widespread condemnation from the GOP—with everyone Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell and nearly every GOP presidential candidate excoriating Trump—that it’s almost more interesting to see who hasn’t abandoned his side.

On Wednesday the most senior figure in the Republican Party, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, broke his silence on Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim statements by saying that it was “not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.”

Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan came out against Donald Trump this week. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Likewise, in a closed-door meeting, Ryan apparently told the Republican Congressional caucus to refrain from supporting Trump’s call, Oklahoma Republican congressman Tom Cole told the Associated Press.

Here’s what GOP presidential contenders had to say:

Chris Christie added that, “This is the kind of thing people say when they have no experience and no idea what they’re talking about.”

3. Authors, actors and popular icons denigrate Donald
On Wednesday, legendary boxer and prominent U.S. Muslim Muhammad Ali came out in an apparent rebuke of Trump, saying that, “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda.”

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling joined the chorus of anti-Trump zings, claiming that the series’ classic antagonist was less villainous than Trump in a retweet of a BBC article explaining why people have begun to refer to the presidential contender as Lord Voldemort:

Meanwhile, Star Wars icon Harrison Forward chided Trump for failing to understand that Air Force One was just a movie, not reality. Trump had previously referenced the film when saying that Ford “stood up for America” in the 1997 film, implying that he would do the same as president. In a biting rejoinder, Ford said “Donald…it was a movie. It’s not like that in real life. But, how would you know?” Watch the video below:

Donald Trump mocked by actor Harrison Ford

Actor Harrison Ford mocks Republican front-runner Donald J. Trump for saying Ford "stood up for America" in his role as the US President in the 1997 movie Air Force One:

Posted by Channel 4 News on Wednesday, December 9, 2015

But does any of the backlash matter?

One problem these anti-Trump proclamations share is that they speak to an audience which already agrees with them. More troubling, though, is the fact that, as The New York Times explained in a recent editorial, Donald Trump and the hold he has on the media and American politics writ large didn’t spontaneously appear—they were borne out of years of nativist thinking and political strategy on behalf of multiple actors. In other words, it’s hard to destroy the reflection of a party whose ugliness has been carefully cultivated over the years.

Data support that. A recent Bloomberg poll revealed that among likely Republican primary voters, two-thirds supported Trump’s ban, with less than a third in opposition:

Bloomberg First

Image Source: Bloomberg News

After being provided with additional information, the numbers didn’t shift much:

Bloomberg Second

Image Source: Bloomberg News

Likewise, results from a Rasmussen Reports survey—released today—show that “66% of Likely Republican Voters favor a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the United States until the federal government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists from coming here. Just 24% oppose the plan, with 10% undecided.”

It took years to make Donald Trump, and what he represents in American politics. It will take just as long—if not longer—to undo him.

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