Despite widespread worries about what a Donald Trump presidency might mean for the United States and the world, a leaked memo sent from the campaign arm for Senate Republicans reveals the party establishment is more than ready to take lessons from the billionaire celebrity's agenda.
The document is a 7-page memo written by the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and outlines a scenario in which the GOP front-runner—who's recently said his White House would set up a database of Muslims living in the US., has mocked a journalist's disability, would bring back waterboarding, kill family members of terrorists, and repeatedly makes false statements—is the party's nominee.
It was written by NRSC executive director head Ward Baker on September 22, 2015, and was first reported by the Washington Post. The NRSC told the Post that it's written similar memos on scenarios where other other candidates secure the nomination.
The memo to the body's senior staff states: "Trump has risen because voters see him as authentic, independent, direct, firm, — and believe he can’t be bought. These are the same character traits our candidates should be advancing in 2016. That’s Trump lesson #1."
Baker writes that staff should "understand the Trump phenomenon," and he puts forth both criticism and praise for Trump.
Baker writes that Trump "says what's on his mind and that's a problem," and also characterizes him as a "misguided missile" who "is subject to farcical fits." Baker also notes that the mogul "has said some wacky things about women," and that other candidates should "offer a quick condemnation" of his such statements.
Yet those in the party should should "avoid piling on the nominee" and "limit the Trump criticisms (other than obvious free kicks)," the memo states.
"We may not like it, but Trump has connected with voters on issues like trade with China and America's broken borders. When Trump was criticized on building a wall to stop immigration, he noted how Israel successfully built walls that were cost effective and did the job."
Baker writes that "Trump rises because people understand him" and that he "challenges our politically correct times. Our candidates shouldn't miss this point. Don't insult key voter cohorts by ignoring that America has significant problems and that Trump is offering some basic solutions. Understand the populist points Trump makes and ride that wave."
The Post reports : "Regardless of how far Trump’s candidacy ultimately goes, the memo is evidence of the effect he has had on his party."
And what is the possible reach of that effect if his rhetoric and ideology continue to spill over?
Fascism analyst Chip Berlet wrote at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting in September that Trump's rhetoric aligns with that of the "European populist radical right" which uses "rhetoric of nativism, authoritarianism and populism." He adds that "Trump is not an example of creeping totalitarianism; he is the white man growing hoarse with bigoted canards while riding at the forefront of a new nativist movement."
"Journalists and scholars familiar with the rise of contemporary right-wing populist political parties and social movements in Europe [...] recognize that xenophobic, anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric can lead to acts of violence," Berlet stated, and noted that "the demonization and scapegoating that accompanies right-wing populism in the United States is breeding a counter-subversion panic targeting immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, feminists, gay people, liberals and leftists. Planned Parenthood has become a special target to appeal to the Christian Right."
"The more we as a nation ignore this process of nativist demonization," he wrote, "the more targets will be painted on the backs of our neighbors."