Mike Pence Attempted To Reverse Donald Trump's Muslim Ban & That's Actually A Bad Thing
After having called for a provocative (and, let’s be real, racist) ban on Muslims entering the country back in December, the Donald Trump campaign, through the mouthpiece of running mate Mike Pence, may be backing off of that policy position. In an interview on CNN’s New Day, Pence was asked why he no longer condemns Trump’s racially inflammatory positions. The Indiana governor said, “Because that’s not Donald Trump’s position now.” It's true that Trump has arguably "softened" or couched his Muslim ban proposal at different points, but Pence's decisive denial of it marked a major walk-back, if it, in fact, holds.
The idea of the Muslim travel ban — it’s difficult to call such an indecorous and ambiguous thing a “policy” — has undergone several revisions in the 10 months since Trump announced it. Pence articulated the most current form the plan has taken, that is a suspension of immigration from countries “who have been compromised by terrorism,” when challenged on it on MSNBC.
Whether it was a purposeful reversal by the campaign or a misspeaking of Pence on behalf of Trump is still unclear, though even as he said it, people on Twitter were quick to point out that Trump’s original statement calling for the ban is still on the Trump-Pence campaign website.
If this is, in fact, an attempt to shuffle off the divisive policy — much less popular with a general electorate than Republican primary voters — one can see the Trump campaign claiming that Clinton has done the same kinds of reversals herself. But where Clinton’s reversals have been at best earnest and at worst opportunistic politicking, Trump’s desire to distance himself from one of his most inflammatory positions isn’t just dishonest, it’s dangerous.
Some of Clinton’s reversals are easier to square with others: the challenge from Bernie Sanders during the primaries on her record on gay marriage is, as far as this gay man is concerned, a non-starter (which I’ve pontificated about at length). Her change of heart on the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a little tougher: She’d gone on the record calling it the “gold standard” of trade agreements only to say later during one of the primary debates that it “didn’t meet my standards.” Whether she was bowing to prevailing political winds or had a genuine change of heart, it made her look shifty.
But Clinton’s original position on TPP was not based in racism or hate, and while her opposition to gay marriage in 2008 was a tough pill to swallow, if I'm giving Barack Obama a pass on it, I think she has to get one, too.
The attempts to sweep the hateful origins of the Trump campaign under the rug is dangerous, and the media is right for not letting the Republican ticket wriggle out of it so easily. While I certainly have my own bias as a Clinton supporter, this seems like more than an evolution or a flip-flop, but an effort to whitewash the worst of his campaign as we head into November.
It has never been more important for a politician to be tied to their past actions and statements. Marginal voters may be willing to forget Trump’s past transgressions, but if we keep reminding them of what he stated and professed mere months ago, then hopefully, they won't.