Teddy Roosevelt’s Wisdom for Donald Trump - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Teddy Roosevelt’s Wisdom for Donald Trump
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Donald Trump has a problem with women.

So say the sages of the political elites in both parties and throughout the media. Samples? Here’s Gallup with a poll out on April Fools’ Day — excuse me, April 1st — headlined:

Seven in 10 Women Have Unfavorable Opinion of Trump

The accompanying report begins this way: 

PRINCETON, N.J. — Donald Trump’s image among U.S. women tilts strongly negative, with 70% of women holding an unfavorable opinion and 23% a favorable opinion of the Republican front-runner in March. Trump’s unfavorable rating among women has been high since Gallup began tracking it last July, but after rising slightly last fall, it has increased even further since January.

And Trump and Hispanics? As they say in Brooklyn, fuhgettaaboutit. As the Washington Post, taking a break from its almost rabid anti-Trump editorials, informs here:

Poll: Trump’s negatives among Hispanics rise; worst in GOP field

The paper’s story begins:

Donald Trump has used the issue of immigration to help make himself the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, but his harsh rhetoric also has earned him the highest negative ratings among Hispanic voters of any major GOP hopeful, according to a Washington Post-Univision News poll. 

And on and on goes this meme of Donald Trump perpetually alienating X group to the point that Democrats are said to be salivating while GOP leaders are terrified.

Stop. Stop, stop, stop!

What Donald Trump has been presented with here is a considerable opportunity to begin to break the political back of the American Left and its GOP Establishment camp followers who divide America by gender and race for political profit. Instead of playing defense — by saying, in essence, “women” or “Hispanics” love him, Trump has the opportunity to play the “American card” — a card which, pun intended, can powerfully trump the race and gender cards for a reason. The reason: it’s the right thing to do. And in fact, once upon a time a prominent Republican of the day — Theodore Roosevelt 101 years go — did exactly that.

We have mentioned repeatedly in this space the Left’s obsession with dividing people by race. This is, after all, as we frequently point out, the party that made its political bones by supporting such flagrantly racial policies as yesterday’s slavery, segregation, and lynching and using the Ku Klux Klan as, in the words of Columbia University’s Eric Foner, “a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party” or, according to the University of North Carolina’s Allen Trelease description of the Klan, the “terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.” From there to today’s identity politics (the modern disguise for segregation), racial quotas and the flagrant racial politics of an Al Sharpton or Obama mentor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, not to mention racial polarizers like Jorge Ramos and La Raza, the goal first last and always is to play the race card to win elections. So too is it with the gender card. Can you say “the war on women”? Women are treated by both the Left and the GOP Establishment as just one more opportunity to play identity politics. As witness that recent letter to Donald Trump from sixteen self-identified “Female Media Members” on the kerfuffle over Michelle Fields and Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, even some conservatives have followed the left-wing practice of identifying by gender instead of their profession. 

This is more than disgraceful. This is a serious political threat to a country that is based not on racial, gender, or ethnic identity but rather on principles of freedom and liberty that apply to all. What the Left proposes is to divide America by race and gender in perpetuity. Or, as the late Democratic Governor George Wallace of Alabama once proposed, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.” 

Into this racial and genderist cauldron steps candidate Trump. Whether he was challenging journalist Megyn Kelly (say again… “journalist” Megyn Kelly, not “female journalist Megyn Kelly”) or being subjected to that appallingly sexist ad by Our Principles PAC — the intent is clear. If the Left and the GOP Establishment get their way, America will be divided by race and gender — forever. Here, as but one example of this appeal to sexism and genderism by the GOP Establishment, is a link to a CNN story on the “Our Principles” ad, showing this jewel of blatantly sexist divide-to-win genderism. The ad is a bold statement that these GOP Establishmentarians have every intention of judging others by leftist gender standards. Suffice to say, these are precisely the kind of people that look at former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and sneeringly insist she’s not a real woman. Just as the left looks at a Justice Clarence Thomas or other conservatives of color and insist they are not really black.

It would be amusing if the consequences of judging everybody in America by race and gender were not so dangerous, not to mention insulting.

Thus Trump’s opportunity.

Earlier in the primary season this same sort of argument was made about Trump and evangelicals. By common consent of the political wizards, it was Ted Cruz — the son of a pastor — who should get the evangelical vote. But once the moment arrived, in Iowa where Trump got a considerable proportion (although not a majority) of the evangelical vote, and South Carolina where he won it outright — an entirely different picture of “the evangelical vote” was in hand. It seemed that — gasp! — evangelicals were not voting to elect a religious leader but a president. And they were concerned about issues like the economy, illegal immigration, terrorism, and the like. Why? I would submit that instead of allowing themselves to be pigeonholed by their religious beliefs, evangelicals responded as in fact what they are — Americans. Americans who have exactly the same kind of concerns as their fellow Americans who aren’t even close to being evangelicals.

There is a lesson here — and a good one. 

Instead of falling for the genderist/racist trap his GOP Establishment and leftist enemies are trying to set for him (and make no mistake, they will try and do the same to Ted Cruz), Donald Trump can turn this back by making a deliberate appeal not by gender and race but appealing to his audience of yes — gasp! — Americans!

As mentioned, one hundred and one years ago, another famous New Yorker — former President Theodore Roosevelt — said the following in terms that could easily be said by Donald Trump today. In TR’s day — this speech delivered to the Knights of Columbus in the years leading up to World War One when many Americans of German and Irish descent were demanding neutrality in the European conflict due to loyalty to their country of origin — the phrase “hyphenated American” was in common use. TR used it famously in this speech:

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all.

This is just as true of the man who puts “native” before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance.

But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else.

The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English- Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian- Americans, or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality than with the other citizens of the American Republic.

The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American.

Today’s “hyphenated Americans” are those who choose to identify themselves by their racial identity (“Hispanic-American,” “African-American”) or gender (as did those “female media members”). But as in TR’s day, there ought to be no room for those who insist on bringing race, ethnic or gender identity into the discussion of issues that affect all Americans regardless of race or gender. Indeed, to update TR’s point from 1915 to 2016, his famous speech needs to be re-written only slightly to say:

The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, races, and genders, an intricate knot of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, White Americans or Female and Male Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, race, or gender, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Africans, Whites, Mexicans, Central or South Americans, or women than with the other citizens of the American Republic.

Teddy Roosevelt was right in 1915 — and Donald Trump would be right in 2016 were he to update this bit of Rooseveltian wisdom.

Does Donald Trump have a “woman problem” or a “Hispanic problem” or a “black problem”? Only if he accepts the liberal conventional wisdom that everyone must be divided by race and gender. Forever.

Suffice to say, the distinctly hyphenated-Americanism that is at the base of the American Left and the GOP Establishment is a distinctly un-American — and un-Trumpian — place to be. 

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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