Juan Williams: Trump's race politics will destroy GOP

Juan Williams: Trump's race politics will destroy GOP
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Now for some startling opinions about race relations and the current leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump.

In the opinion of 50 percent of all Americans, the word 'racist' fits Trump either "very well" or "somewhat well," according to a July poll from the Associated Press and GfK. Most of those people — 35 percent of the overall population — said the term fits the GOP nominee "very well."

Here’s another eye-opening opinion: Most Americans, 56 percent, “believe that Trump is biased against women and minorities,” according to an August Washington Post poll.

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Last week, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThere are many unanswered questions about FBI culture FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts offers to testify on Capitol Hill Giuliani wants 'full and complete' investigation into Russia probe's origins MORE said Trump is “taking hate groups mainstream,” and “helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties.” Trump tried to reduce the accusations to a game of tit-for-tat by calling her a "bigot.”

But Clinton’s words simply amplified what Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWhite House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies John Legend slams Paul Ryan for Father's Day tweet, demands end to family separation Trump faces Father’s Day pleas to end separations of migrant families MORE (R-Wis.) said months ago, after Trump attacked an Indiana-born judge as being incapable of fairness because of his Mexican heritage. Ryan said Trump’s remarks amounted to a “textbook definition of a racist comment.”

The damage Trump is doing to the GOP is evident in polls showing more than 12 percent of registered Republicans intend to vote for Clinton. GOP-leaning independent voters are staying away from Trump, too. The latest Quinnipiac poll had Clinton with 51 percent support and the Republican nominee fading.

As a result, the GOP is now likely to lose control of the Senate and lose seats in the House in the fall election.

And yet Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress had a good couple of weeks — now let's keep it going McCarthy: 'The Mueller investigation has got to stop' McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' MORE (R-Ky.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus have decided they have to stand with Trump — even as he destroys their party.

Much of the damage is directly tied to Trump’s racial politics.

Long before Trump, the GOP already had few black and Latino elected officials. The party is in desperate need of more women as well as racial and ethnic diversity to keep up with the reality of the nation’s changing demographics.

A wider range of people backing conservative principles — from small government and low taxes, to free trade and policies supporting strong families — is not tokenism. It is a necessity if the party is to remain relevant to policy debates and have any chance of winning in the future.

And there are churchgoing, family loving black people, Latinos and immigrants who share those values but see the GOP as an exclusively white party.

The potential power of a racially diverse GOP was on display this year in the ongoing controversy over police use of excessive force against blacks. The debate was an exercise in polarization between Republican law-and-order voices backing the police and Democrats backing the controversial Black Lives Matter group when Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottAnti-Trump Republicans better look out — voters might send you packing Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Fed nominees vow to rebuff pressure from Trump on interest rates MORE (R-S.C.) stood up.

Even in a business suit and wearing a lapel pin signifying that he is a member of the Senate, Scott recalled being treated like a criminal suspect by Capitol Police: “The officer looked at me, full of attitude… I was thinking to myself, either he thinks I’m committing a crime — impersonating a member of Congress — or what?”

As a black man, a conservative and a Republican senator, Scott said he has “felt the anger…that comes with feeling like you are being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself.”

And when the Ku Klux Klan’s former Grand Wizard endorsed Trump by saying it is “treason” against white heritage to fail to vote for Trump, Scott again spoke up:

“Any candidate who cannot immediately condemn a hate group like the KKK does not represent the Republican Party,” he said. “If Donald Trump can’t take a stand against the KKK, we cannot trust him to stand up for America against Putin, Iran or ISIS.” 

Scott’s stand against Trump now can be seen as an early storm warning. As Labor Day approaches, the awful reality of what Trump has done to the GOP goes beyond polls showing Trump is on track to lose more than 90 percent of the black vote and around 80 percent of the Latino vote.

The real issue for the GOP is that the latest polls have him losing white women with college degrees. That is devastating to the Republican brand.

Trump’s recent speeches about black America to overwhelmingly white audiences — asking black people “what the hell do you have to lose?” by voting for him — is an effort to regain the support of white Republicans who do not want to vote for someone viewed as a bigot.

Trump established himself in national Republican politics five years ago by pushing the racist conspiracy theory that President Obama was not an American citizen. Trump’s shameful stoking of this effort to undermine the credibility of the first black president remains an issue.

A disturbing poll from NBC News/Survey Monkey taken earlier this month found that a shockingly low 25 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement “Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaShould President Trump, like President Obama, forsake human rights in pursuit of the deal with a tyrant? Obama shares summer reading list ‘Three Californias’ plan would give Dems more seats MORE was born in the U.S.”

The GOP’s problem with black voters didn’t begin when Barack Obama became president and it won’t end when he leaves the White House.

Even as he swept 49 states in his 1984 reelection, Ronald Reagan only won 9 percent of the black vote. George W. Bush fared only slightly better in his 2004 re-election, netting 11 percent of the black vote but put blacks in his cabinet, notably Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

Ryan, to his credit, has tried to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp, who famously toured black communities promoting economic growth with “empowerment zones.”

Trump is squandering those decades of efforts on race by Republicans.

Ryan, McConnell and Priebus need to dump Trump and save their party.

Juan Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News Channel. His latest book, "We The People: The Modern-Day Figures Who Have Reshaped and Affirmed the Founding Fathers' Vision of America" published by Crown, is out now.