The presidential race is the big bad of all elections in 2016, but let's not forget about the down-ballot races — especially when they're imitating the presidential one in scary ways. The influence of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump may already be having a trickle-down effect. You may say Trump's a dreamer, but he's not the only one. In Colorado, U.S. Senate hopeful Robert Blaha wants to go beyond Trump's Muslim ban, according to Buzzfeed. Blaha, a candidate in the Republican primary of Colorado's Senate race, reportedly said at a GOP meeting on Tuesday:
I want to go beyond just Muslims. And I’ll tell you why. The issue is not — the issue is partially a religious issue, but the real issue there is — the real issue is security. The real issue is we do not know who these people are. We don’t know where they’re coming from, we don’t know whether a terrorist state. We do not have the ability as a government right now to vet these people.
Because when you're a xenophobe, you've got to go big or go home, right? Blaha's "ban everyone" proposal is far more alarming than Trump's (admittedly still horrific) ban on Muslim immigration, but there's been little to no discussion about it. It's an example of how down-ballot races sometimes fly way under the radar during presidential elections, even though their candidates may spew policies and views that are just as disturbing as — if not far more so than — Trump's.
Politicians like Blaha are the reason why we must pay attention to these elections with less fanfare. Focusing solely on the presidential election means ignoring Trumpian bigots in other elections. And that, in turn, means the perfect chance for them and their policies to campaign and even ease into office with fewer obstacles.
Personally, I would never want a politician who says the following to sneak past my attention:
So it’s bigger than just a religious issue, to me. It’s a much bigger issue than just a religious issue. So we must secure the border, and we must not allow people to come into this country when we do not know who they are.
Blaha, who has endorsed Trump, is not the only politician in the down-ballot races with the idea of a ban to end all bans. In April, Florida U.S. Senate hopeful Carlos Beruff said, "I don't think it's safe to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country." He proposed a ban that would apply to "pretty much all the Middle East" and apply to both Muslims and Christians. Glad to know xenophobia doesn't discriminate.
I see candidates like Blaha and Beruff as evidence that Trump is having an effect on down-ballot races — which is expected as he takes on a leadership role in the Republican party — but it's disturbing and should not be ignored. I believe it's a phenomenon that, as Trump's political power increases more and more, will only grow. Now that being Trump is so hot right now, lesser-known politicians are getting in on his revolting rhetoric and opinions. We need to watch out for them, too.
Image: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle