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President or Divider in Chief?

I'm trying to wrap my mind around what it will mean if Donald Trump wins the Iowa caucuses in a few days and goes on to win New Hampshire, South Carolina and ultimately the Republican nomination. If so, he'll face a badly damaged Hillary Clinton -- or, less likely, socialist Bernie Sanders -- and will be the odds on favorite to become the next president of the United States (barring a credible but unlikely third-party challenge by Michael Bloomberg). Mostly, such fantasies put me in a funk. But I think it's worth thinking through what it would mean for America going forward based on what politics have done to America in the recent past.

There is no question that Donald Trump is a polarizing figure. You either love him or loathe him; few people fall in between. But he certainly would not be the first man elected who turned out to divide the country. We've just experienced seven polarizing years under President Barack Obama and the country is worse for it, regardless of what you believe about his policies.
President Obama promised to bring us together again: He is the man who gave one of the most inspiring speeches in recent memory about what it means to be American. At the Democratic Convention in 2004, he proclaimed: "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America." But as president, he alienated conservatives, thumbed his nose at Congress, and marginalized anyone who disagreed with him.

We are more divided today than we have been anytime since the Vietnam War. Rancor, name-calling and suspicion infect Americans on both sides of the political divide. For those who love President Obama, anyone who doesn't is hateful and racist. But the left is not entirely to blame for the divide. Much ugliness has reared its head on the right as well as the left over the last seven years.

What happens to this divide, then, if Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States? He has promised as one of his first orders of business to round up nearly 11 million illegal immigrants, as well as their American-citizen children, who are minors. He has promised to turn away refugees and start keeping tabs on Muslims. These actions would affect not only the direct targets but also millions of Americans who are the targets' family, friends, employers, landlords, customers, co-workers and community members. It's hard to overstate the seeds of division this would reap over generations.

Maybe Trump's rhetoric has all been for show. Maybe he won't even try to fulfill these promises once in office. And unquestionably, the courts would intervene if he did try. But in the meantime, what will it do to America? Will we be a stronger, more united country than we are today? Or will we be a nation in which we hunker down into our own groups, denying the right to fellow countrymen who do not share our ancestry or ideology the right to even call themselves Americans?

This nation has survived bad presidents. And we would probably survive a Donald Trump presidency, but it would change us.

After eight years of division, we need to come together. We need a president who can work with the elected representatives of the people in Congress. We need a president who puts his own ego on hold for four years while he works to boost the confidence of the American people -- all the people. We need someone who knows that the presidency isn't an imperium.
Donald Trump may win the nomination. He may win the presidential election. But he will not make America great again if he continues on his path of dividing, insulting and threatening those who disagree with him. If he wins Iowa, let's see if he can at least start acting presidential.

Political Pawns for the Democrats

The Supreme Court decided this week to take up the Obama administration's unilateral executive actions on immigration, which will keep the issue on the front burner for the presidential election. That's bad news for Republicans, including Donald Trump. It was bound to happen, of course. The administration has been nothing if not Machiavellian when it comes to playing the immigration issue for all it is worth.

In November 2014, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson issued a series of memoranda that, in effect, delayed indefinitely the deportation of illegal immigrants who were parents to American-born children. The move also granted them permission to work in the U.S. Of course the overwhelming majority of these people were not going to be deported anyway -- two thirds have been living here 10 years or more -- and the majority were already working, albeit not with proper authorization. The administration's actions, therefore, did very little to change the status quo for illegal immigrants beyond giving them a false sense of security. Meanwhile, several states sued and the executive actions were put on hold while the case wends its way through the courts.

Without actual changes to U.S. law, illegal immigrants remain political pawns of whoever happens to be in power. The Democrats say they will protect them; but a Democrat president who enjoyed two full years of his presidency with Democrats in control of both houses of Congress chose not to change the law. Most Republicans have simply punted on the issue, except for Donald Trump, who promises he'll deport them all, which is a real crowd-pleaser among the voters he courts but will come back to bite him if he manages to win the GOP nomination.

Hispanic voters are not monolithic -- as I have been writing for three decades. A majority usually supports the Democratic nominee in presidential elections, but GOP candidates have won from a third to more than 40 percent of Hispanic votes in a majority of elections going back to Richard Nixon. A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that naturalizations and the growing number of Hispanic youth attaining voting age has pushed the number of potential Hispanic voters to 27.3 million, roughly 12 percent of the voting-eligible population.

As the Hispanic electorate grows, Republicans increasingly need to win more Hispanic votes to be competitive in states such as Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida (where non-Cuban Hispanics now outnumber the more Republican-leaning Cuban-American population) and even Virginia, which has grown more Democratic in recent years. Pushing a line on illegal immigrants that we should "round 'em up and kick 'em out" will simply shove Hispanics into the Democrats' arms for generations. Democrats will shake their heads in sympathy all the way to Inauguration Day.

The Supreme Court is likely to issue its decision in June or early July, by which time the parties will likely have settled on a nominee even if the conventions will be weeks away. The decision could inject an issue back into the campaign at a time when it may have withered away. I expect the decision to be closely divided, and it could leave a muddled mess.

Conservatives, including me, are hoping that the Court will slap down the administration's abuse of executive power. I'd like to see resolution of the status of long-term illegal immigrants, but I believe that Congress must act -- not the president alone -- if we ever hope to solve the problem in the long run. But I think it is quite likely the Court will avoid dealing with the substance and rule narrowly on whether the administration followed proper procedure in taking the executive actions.

No one will be satisfied with such a decision, which will dump it right back into the political maelstrom. The Democrat nominee will use the fear of mass deportations to drive young Hispanics to register and turn out to vote. When you add large numbers of new Hispanic voters to the ranks of Democrats' solid base among blacks, union members and single women, the path to the White House for a Republican nominee becomes much steeper. No matter who the GOP nominee is, if he's smart he'll wish the immigration issue would simply go away.

“It’s a Wonderful Country”: Happy New Year from the Center for Equal Opportunity!

Over the holidays, you may have had the chance to watch one of my favorite movies, It’s a Wonderful Life.  Over a decade ago, that movie — along with the endless drumbeat of anti-America nonsense we always hear in every season both at home and abroad and which unfortunately does not seem to be diminishing these days — prompted me to write this column for National Review Online.  I hope you enjoy it, and all the best from me and the Center for Equal Opportunity.  Happy New Year!

It’s a Wonderful Country
A contemporary Christmas carol.

Well, Clarence, we've got another assignment for you, the most difficult since you earned your wings.

What's that, Joseph?

Very similar to your last one. Only this time it's a whole country involved, rather than just one man. It's the United States.

But it's such a good country!

Oh, I agree. But a lot of bad things are said about it nowadays and about its role in history — that it took land from the Indians, and allowed the enslavement of blacks, and mistreated many others, and that it ought to make up for all those wrongs and remedy everything it did bad in the past, and just generally be ashamed of itself. Many people are saying that the United States should stop trying to export its values and its way of life, and should go stand in the corner for a good long while. There are even a lot of Americans who feel that way.
But we don't expect a person to be perfect, let alone a country, and it's really not fair to ignore all the good that a people has done and focus only on the bad.

Exactly, Clarence, and that's where you come in. That was really very effective, what you did for George Bailey. So we'd like you to do the same thing for the United States. Show what the world would be like if there hadn't been a United States.

Gee, that's a tall order — and remember that I have the IQ of a rabbit. Could you give me some examples?

Sure. Let's start at the beginning, with the Indians. It's always struck me as odd that the redistributionists, of all people, purport to have no problem with leaving half the world in the hands of a relatively few Indians. Show what the world would look like if the settlers had not come to the America, but had stayed in Europe. It would be mighty crowded in Europe, and it's not clear how well the Indians would have gotten along without Western technology and medicine. More to the point, though, is all the good things — for the Indians and everyone else — that would never have happened without a United States. I'll get to that in a second.

The United States is still getting a lot of criticism for the fact that it allowed slavery for its first 75 years or so — in fact, that criticism has stepped up recently. But you might ask whether there would be less slavery now, and would it have ended sooner, if the West — including the United States, at the price of a bloody civil war — had not existed, and had not acted to ban it. Show a world with a thriving Middle Eastern and African slave trade.

Many people have pointed out that African Americans would be much worse off now if they were just Africans. Show the reparations people what their lives would be like in Africa now, assuming they would even have lives there. And how would Africa be getting along these days without Western medicine, including the advances that have taken place as a result of American researchers and doctors? Show an Africa with all the old diseases still there, and no hope of containing the new ones, like AIDS.

But let's not pick on Africa and the Indians. After all, the people who owe the most to America are the Europeans. You could show the United States — and our European friends — what their little peninsula would look like if the Nazis had won World War II. And you can show what Europe would look like if the Soviet Union had won the Cold War.

While you're at it, show our neighbors in the Middle East how Islam would be faring under the Nazis and Communists. It's true that the Islamists wouldn't have to worry about Jews — between the Nazis and Communists, there would be no Jews left in a world without the United States, and not many Christians either — but Hitler or Stalin would not have let a few religious fanatics stand in the way of all that oil. The world would be a harsher place for believers of all kinds, had the United States not been around to pioneer the separation of church and state and the free exercise of religion.

And don't forget the rest of Asia. Would those who denigrate America prefer an Asia and an Oceania that today would be part of a fascist Japanese empire? As for the America's opposition to the Communists there, it won't require much speculation on your part: Just show them what really happened in Cambodia under Pol Pot, and then multiply that a few times.

Oh, Joseph, this is so depressing.

To be sure, Clarence. So let's not focus just on the bad things that didn't happen because of the United States. Spend some time showing the good things that did happen because of the United States. Show them all the American inventions — the airplane, the telephone, the steamship, you name it. Show them all the people who have been fed by American food and who have been able to feed themselves using American agricultural technology. Show them the wonder drugs and advances in medical technology that America is responsible for, and the computers and the Internet and the cars, as well as showing them a moon never visited by humans. Show them the literature, the movies, the art, the television, and architecture, that America has given the world — and the music: Do show them a world without jazz, or rhythm and blues, or rock and roll.

Finally, show them a world without the Declaration of Independence, or Abraham Lincoln, or Martin Luther King. Show them a world without a nation that has always had at its core, not one race or one religion or one particular ethnicity, but an idea that is open to everyone. Show them a world that never had a powerful country embodying those ideals for the rest of the world to look toward and be influenced by.

Americans are the luckiest people in the word, Joseph, but the world is very lucky to have Americans.

That's right, Clarence, that's right.

Cruz's Trump Problem

Donald Trump is right: Ted Cruz has a problem. By raising the "birther" issue, Trump is planting the seeds for a legal challenge should Cruz ultimately win the Republican presidential nomination. At the moment, Trump is hoping that all he has to do to stop Cruz's rise in the polls is to question whether the senator is even eligible to become president. But Trump won't stop there if Cruz's growing supporters don't defect over the birther issue.

The issue is complicated, and the merits have never been fully litigated. Federal law confers automatic citizenship to any child born outside the United States as long as one parent is a U.S. citizen at the time of the birth and meets other specific criteria. In Cruz's case, though he was born in Canada and his father was not a U.S. citizen, his mother was. In order to be granted automatic citizenship by law in 1970, Cruz had to have one parent who not only was a U.S. citizen, by birth or naturalization, but also had lived in the United States for at least 10 years -- at least five of them after the age of 14.

Cruz's American-born mother met all the qualifications, so he was born a U.S. citizen. Case closed? I think so -- and most constitutional scholars agree, but not all.

A small group of constitutional scholars argues that eligibility is far more restrictive. The debate centers around a single sentence in Article 2 of the Constitution: "No Person except a natural born Citizen ... shall be eligible to the Office of President." In an op-ed for The Washington Post this week, Widener University law professor Mary Brigid McManamon claims that the phrase "natural born Citizen," which appears only once in the Constitution, means that only people born on U.S. soil are eligible to become president. She asserts that the Founding Fathers included the phrase to adopt the English common law definition of citizenship -- jus soli, or the law of the soil -- which conferred citizenship on the basis of birthplace.

So does this arcane issue really matter? Most voters seem to dismiss it, with a new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll showing that 83 percent of Iowans don't care that Cruz was born in Canada. But polls don't settle constitutional issues; courts do. All it will take to cause major problems for Cruz is a lawsuit.

Several such lawsuits were filed against Barack Obama in 2008, alleging falsely that he was born in not Hawaii but Kenya. Those lawsuits were dismissed because the plaintiffs lacked standing; they could show no individual harm to themselves even if their claims turned out to be true.

But if Cruz continues to eat into Trump's support by winning Iowa and picking up Trump supporters in South Carolina, Nevada and elsewhere, you can bet Trump will call in his lawyers.

He says he wouldn't want to win that way -- for now, at least -- but he is famously litigious. He'll try to win any way he can, and if it means bringing suit against Cruz, so be it. As the early front-runner for the GOP nomination in a highly contested race, Trump could show that Cruz's candidacy caused him actual harm should the senator become the nominee. Trump might not even have to wait that long to force a hearing in the courts.

Meanwhile, Cruz is being pushed to deal with questions about his eligibility, which throws his campaign off track. There is some delicious irony in Cruz's predicament. After all, he wants to deny birthright citizenship to children born in the United States to parents who are here illegally. He acknowledges that doing so would require amending the Constitution, because the 14th Amendment clearly states that people born on U.S. soil are citizens. But as satisfying as it might be to hoist Cruz with his own nativist petard, the constitutional issue is more important than Cruz.

If Cruz had more friends in Congress, he might be able to pre-empt a legal challenge by getting legislation passed to make clear that citizenship at birth, not whether a person was actually born on U.S. soil, satisfies the constitutional requirement of "natural born Citizen." Alas, not many members of either party are likely to come to his aid.
Ted Cruz indeed has a problem. And his name is Donald Trump.

Another Year of Living Dangerously?

Will Republicans come to their senses in 2016 or continue with another year of living dangerously? We will soon know, when Iowans caucus in classrooms and rec halls to pick their presidential favorites and New Hampshire voters head for the polling booths. A big victory for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in either state could well make it difficult, though not impossible, for another candidate to emerge down the road. Only if those candidates still in the single digits give up the ghost will a consensus develop around an alternative to Trump or Cruz.

But more importantly, the continued dominance of either Trump or Cruz guarantees that the party will be pushed into more destructive rhetoric on immigration, trade and the war against the Islamic State group. Those two are already drowning out or silencing other candidates on immigration and trade.

Both men favor mass deportation of the 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, which would wreak havoc not just on the individuals and their families but on the U.S. economy, and both favor limiting legal immigration, as well. Both candidates have adopted protectionist trade positions -- though Cruz's opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a trade promotion authority bill seems more indicative of his slippery opportunism than it does his ideology.

And neither man seems to believe that the Islamic State poses any serious threat to the United States, at least not one worth our investing more military assets than currently committed.

On that issue, both Trump's and Cruz's policies are virtually indistinguishable from Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's.

The likely outcome of a Trump or Cruz presidential nomination would be a GOP rout in November, one that could cost the party control of the Senate, as well as the White House.

Hillary Clinton is an immensely flawed candidate, but her base is a lot larger than the anti-immigrant, protectionist, isolationist wing of the Republican Party, which is the Trump/Cruz base. I don't think I am alone among Republican voters who would face a tough choice if Trump or Cruz were to top the ticket. I cannot vote for Trump. He is not fit to be president. Frankly, I think the man is deeply unbalanced. I once thought it impossible for him to win the nomination but am less sanguine now. The only time I have ever not voted for president was in 1972, when I was still a Democrat. I thought George McGovern was a dangerous choice in a world in which the Soviet Union was gaining in power and influence, but I could not bring myself to vote for Richard Nixon, so I left the top of the ticket blank. I'd do the same thing in 2016 if Trump were to be the nominee.

If Cruz were to emerge, I would end up voting for him -- but holding my nose. For all his divisive rhetoric and Senate antics, his nominees for Cabinet, sub-Cabinet and federal court positions would most likely be good, and his policies would be far superior to Hillary Clinton's. But I don't see how he would win the presidency. The general electorate would be faced with two of the least likable candidates in presidential history. If it's a Clinton-Cruz race, I predict a historically low voter turnout, which would end up favoring the Democrats, who have a superior ground game in turning out their voters.

As a conservative Republican, I hope it doesn't come to that. It is possible that Trump will lose momentum once he has to start spending money; he may be "very, very rich," but he sure hasn't spent like the billionaire he is to date. And Marco Rubio and Chris Christie are in a dead heat with Cruz for second place in New Hampshire, which may break Cruz's momentum going into other states. Looking back on 2012, Rick Santorum's Iowa win meant little, nor did Newt Gingrich's win in South Carolina give him staying power. Trump and Cruz may yet falter if the broad GOP electorate wakes up to the danger their candidacies would pose in the general election.

Count me an optimist -- but a worried one until the votes prove optimism is warranted.

The New York Times Slams Racial Preferences

Not on purpose, of course, but bear with me. 

Last week there was a long, front-page story in the New York Times, showcasing the success that the University of Michigan has had in achieving student-body “diversity” without the use of racial admission preferences. On the article, three observations.

First, the obvious point is that this is bad news for the University of Texas in the Fisher case, since it shows that such preferences are not “narrowly tailored” to the achievement of student-body diversity. (Whether schools ought to be trying to achieve student bodies of a predetermined racial and ethnic mix at all is an even better question.)

Second, as has happened in the past, Lee Bollinger’s mask has slipped. He admits in the article that the reason for the use of admission preferences is not the purported “educational benefits” of a diverse student body, but really “to overcome two centuries of legacies of discrimination and active disempowerment and wealth transfer.” That may warm Ta-Nehisi Coates’s heart, but this purported justification is one the Supreme Court has rejected and, therefore, schools are no longer supposed to be using in litigation. This is of some note since Mr. Bollinger — “who was Michigan’s president during the Supreme Court cases [challenging preferences there in 2003] and now leads Columbia University” — has long been the face of university affirmative action.

Third, it’s chilling that one way the University of Michigan decided to increase its diversity was by admitting nobody off its waiting list and thus shrinking its enrollment, since the list had too many well-off white and Asian American students on it. Think about that: People are refused admission, not just because it was preferable to admit someone of a different color (as bad as that is), but because the school wanted to increase the percentage of some colors of students by denying admission to students of other colors. Keep this in mind the next time you’re told that politically correct discrimination is more acceptable than old-fashioned discrimination because the latter was not “inclusive” and the former is.

Clubbing White Guys:  The corporate head of Sam’s Club brags in this video about how she demands not only that her own managers get their racial/ethnic/gender numbers right, but that her suppliers do so as well.  The resulting discrimination is, of course, flatly at odds with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which says that employment decisions are supposed to be made without regard to skin color, national origin, and sex. Who does she think she is, anyway — a university? 

Bragging about Lawbreaking:  The provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Rochester Institute of Technology bragged last week in Inside Higher Ed about how his institution violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  I hope someone sues RIT, or at least that RIT’s general counsel takes a look at this, in light of Title VII, which (as just noted) makes it illegal to weigh race, ethnicity, and sex in hiring and promotion decisions, and to sort applicants on that basis.

This is therefore illegal: “Or if you have an opening for a dean position and are going through a search process, you might consider asking a qualified woman to step in as interim — something I’ve done on two occasions at RIT.”  Clearly the suggestion is that you look for a woman to appoint, not just that you be willing to appoint one if she is the best qualified.  It is likewise illegal to tell a hiring committee that it has to meet a racial/gender quota in sorting applicants into a finalist selection pool, as the author also recommends.

Finally, there’s this:  “In other words, if you have to choose between two equally qualified candidates, choose the one who brings diversity to your college or university.”  In the first place, and as a practical matter, “diversity” policies inevitably result in people getting hired who are not just marginally less qualified but substantially less qualified.  Moreover, how often can it be said that there is no difference between two competing candidates?  This is just an excuse for discrimination.  But, in the rare instance where there is a tie, then the decisionmaker should flip a coin.  Would anyone dispute that a policy of tie-goes-to-the-white-male would be discriminatory?

More on the illegality of this sort of thing here.

Omnibus Bad-Wish List:  It has a lot of competition, of course, but a case can be made that, pound-for-pound, the worst bureaucracy in the Obama administration is the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.  Here’s hoping, therefore, that this fact is reflected in the funding that it gets — or, more precisely, doesn’t get — in Congress’s omnibus spending bill. More here and here.

P.S.  I don’t know if this can be done at this point or not, but Congress could also specify particular areas in which appropriated money cannot be spent — e.g., no funds shall be used to argue that “microaggressions” or bathrooms-for-actual-boys-only-and-bathrooms-for-actual-girls-only or whatever violate federal civil-rights laws.

Yesterday’s Giants, Today’s Dwarves:  A couple of thoughts regarding campus demands to rename buildings, statues, and the like commemorating individuals whose views on minorities and women have not stood well the test of time.  First, since none of us is without sin, requiring sinlessness for commemoration means no one will be commemorated — yet even those of us who are terrible sinners in one area might be visionaries in another.  So a Woodrow Wilson Civil Rights Center might be a bad idea, but not a Woodrow Wilson Center for Loopy Progressivism.  Second, the Left seems happy to name things after people who are actually convicted criminals, so long as the person is their convicted criminal:  Consider the recent proposals to honor former D.C. mayor Marion Barry.  One suspects, alas, that denigrating the Nation’s (and the West’s) founders – and thus the Nation (and the West) itself – is part of the long-term game here.

It has also struck me that the following analogy might be apt.  Suppose that an ante bellum Southerner criticized Yankees for having bad manners.  He might well have been right.  But, in hindsight, we would all agree that, bad manners or not, the Yankees were right about slavery, and to focus on bad manners at a time when that abhorrent institution was alive and well showed, to put it charitably, a lack of perspective.  In 2016, for the Left to be focused on renaming buildings and removing statues — when 71 percent of African Americans are being born out of wedlock, and that is the real obstacle to black progress — shows a similar lack of perspective.

Rubio Is the Future of the GOP

Marco Rubio may be the most gifted natural politician to come out of the GOP since Ronald Reagan. But the GOP base seems in no mood to rally around a principled conservative who happens also to be an optimist. That may change, but it hasn't yet. The problem is, Rubio is competing in a primary with two demagogues willing to say pretty much anything to win; several other candidates long on experience but with little personal appeal; and one neurosurgeon who should stick to medicine.

Donald Trump tapped into a deep well of anger in the Republican grassroots, driven by fear and insecurity. Trump tossed red meat to the angriest among them, raising the specter of Mexicans crossing the border to steal jobs and rape women, of Chinese cheating us on trade, of Muslims all wishing we were dead and many willing to kill us if allowed in.

Now Ted Cruz is trying to dip into that same well, with twice the intellect but half the charm of Donald Trump. Cruz would like the nativist wing of the party to feel he's no different from Trump on immigration -- and that he's always been there with them.

Cruz no doubt hopes his listeners won't check out statements he made in 2013, when he offered amendments to Sen. Rubio's bill that would have granted legal status to most illegal immigrants. He told NPR in June 2013, "11 million who are here illegally would be granted legal status once the border was secured -- not before -- but after the border was secured, they would be granted legal status. And indeed, they would be eligible for permanent legal residency."

He reiterated this position in an interview with the Texas Tribune in 2013, saying: "The amendment that I introduced removed the path to citizenship, but it did not change the underlying work permit from the Gang of Eight." Cruz opposed a path to citizenship, a position remarkably close to Jeb Bush's 2013 in a book Bush co-authored, "Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution." Cruz also told a group of Princeton students that year, "I want to see common sense immigration reform pass. ... I believe that if the amendments I introduced were adopted, the bill would pass. My effort in introducing them was to find a solution that reflected common ground and fixed the problem."

Cruz has changed his position since then -- which happens. People change their minds. But why lie about it?

Unlike Cruz, Marco Rubio admits he's shifted his position on immigration reform since 2013. Rubio says the framework of the 2013 legislation lacked enough teeth. Now he wants some proof that the border has been secured before he would allow legalization.

Secondly, but most importantly, Rubio wants to fix our broken legal immigration system, which is the only real solution to stemming illegal immigration. The reason that the Reagan amnesty didn't work was because the 1986 law provided no way for enough skilled workers -- without whom our economy cannot grow and prosper -- to migrate legally as temporary workers or permanent residents.

Rubio still personally supports allowing those who make it through any future legalization hurdles (fines, taxes and background checks) to be eligible to become citizens. Agree or disagree with him about the policy, Rubio showed real character by not obfuscating or changing his position in Tuesday night's debate to curry favor. Some supporters, however, worry that his answer may cost him the nomination. I hope not -- less because of what it would do to Rubio's future than what it means for the future of the Republican Party.

I became a Republican 35 years ago because of Ronald Reagan. I didn't agree with him on everything, but he offered me a vision of America that was hopeful and uplifting. When he encountered those who disagreed on policy, he attempted to persuade them. He didn't compromise his principles, but made the case for why those principles mattered. As a former Democrat, I found myself convinced, as did millions of others.

If the Republican Party ever hopes to become the majority party in this country again, it can only do so with leaders that reach out to, not push away, those who don't yet agree with us, and persuade them using the best arguments. Ronald Reagan built a Republican majority by drawing people in. Marco Rubio could do it, too -- if enough primary voters can tune out the demagogues.

Violating Privacy Is Bad Business

Hooking up online and improving college exam scores wouldn't seem to have much in common, but apparently the nation's largest online dating service company is betting they do. The Match Group of dating sites -- which includes Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid, FriendScout24, PlentyOfFish and Chemistry.com -- spun off in late 2015 from IAC along with two businesses aimed at improving grades and test scores for college-bound students, The Princeton Review and Tutor.com. Obviously, the company hopes that combining the enterprises will enhance what the business world likes to call synergy, in this case access to an expanded pool of customers to generate economic returns greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Nothing wrong with that -- except when the business model may depend on violating the privacy of individuals.

Online dating services accumulate volumes of information on those who sign up to meet prospective partners -- info on income, education, likes, interests, personality traits, physical appearance, you name it. Their success depends on mining this data to market people to one another and to attract new customers. Some services charge hefty monthly fees; others are "free," sort of. The latter make money by selling access to users to advertisers, who can target their ads to meet the demographic characteristics and habits of users. Free sites also usually provide premium access that requires a fee for more personal information or for upping the chances that the customer's profile will reach potential matches.

Anyone who signs up for such services knows that the information he or she provides will be available to many people -- but I'm guessing that most who submit pictures and personal, sometimes intimate, details aren't imagining their data becoming a gold mine for advertisers, much less hackers. Last year's much-covered hack into Ashley Madison, which billed itself as a site for married people to have affairs, shows how vulnerable the online dating sites are to hackers. The breach included the names, addresses and phone numbers of millions of users and was implicated in a handful of suicides, including one by a Baptist pastor and seminary teacher in New Orleans. In its corporate SEC filings, The Match Group admits: "We are frequently under attack by perpetrators of random or targeted malicious technology-related events. ... There can be no assurance that our efforts will prevent significant breaches in our systems or other such events from occurring."

But what about students who sign up for college exam prep courses or tutorial help in passing their chemistry or calculous courses? Do they imagine that enrolling for such services will mean their personal data could provide a gold mine for a company whose major revenue comes from online dating services? Do parents know that when their underage kids enroll for exam prep or tutoring, personal information may be shared with hookup sites that could then target their kids to become customers? I doubt it, and The Match Group makes no guarantee that data sharing among its entities will not include those customers whose sole aim is to improve their grades and test scores.

The privacy of education data has long been a public concern. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 protects personally identifying information from most public disclosure. The act prohibits the release of information by schools and colleges without the permission of the student. But the law doesn't cover such entities as The Match Group.

Student privacy ought to be protected from unscrupulous business practices. A good start would be requiring a company such as The Match Group to ensure that the private data of its underage customers not be used as a profit center to boost revenues in its dating services. It would be good if the company itself would uphold high ethical standards by setting up a firewall between its educational services and its dating services. But if the company won't do it, lawmakers ought to look into regulating data sharing that might harm vulnerable underage consumers.

Candidates and the Media Need to Show Courage

Next week's Republican presidential debate will be a test for the candidates standing alongside Donald Trump. Though most of them have criticized Trump's latest outrage -- a call to ban all Muslim tourists, business travelers and immigrants from the U.S. for some unspecified time -- they have not done so uniformly or with equal passion. More than any others during this campaign, Trump's remarks present the candidates with an opportunity to show courage and leadership. They need to speak out onstage -- and do so with one voice. But they are not the only ones. The media need to show courage, as well.

Trump shows no sign of falling in the polls. Somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of Republican primary voters support him, some large portion of whom do so not in spite of his continued barrage of bigoted comments but precisely because of them. This shouldn't be surprising, but it should be troubling. We've gone a long way toward eliminating racial and religious discrimination, but we can probably never entirely erase prejudice from the hearts of the few. There will always be some portion of the electorate for whom appeals to bigotry will be effective if the candidates are willing to make them.

Trump is the favorite of those voters, but he isn't alone in trying to woo them. Ted Cruz dog-whistles to those same voters, making references his intended audience hears for what they are but others can dismiss as mere policy proposals. When Cruz says he disagrees with Trump's proposal, he makes sure to let everyone know he has his own plan to deal with Muslims. Cruz would bar all refugees from countries where the Islamic State group is active -- including, apparently, those who are the direct victims of the Islamic State -- which includes a large swath of the Middle East and North Africa. Cruz said: "I like Donald Trump. ... And listen, I commend Donald Trump for standing up and focusing America's attention on the need to secure our borders." More dog-whistling to voters suspicious of Mexicans, as well as Muslims.

Standing up to bigotry isn't easy, especially in a political campaign in which candidates are looking for every advantage they can muster. It has been a while since we've seen candidates making blatant appeals to prejudice, but the practice had a long run in American politics during the civil rights era. Southern politicians from Arkansas Gov. Orville Faubus to Alabama Gov. George Wallace to Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox made their reputations by defying federal court desegregation orders and laws to appease fearful whites.

Bigotry creates its own audience, as the career of radio show host Father Charles Coughlin demonstrated in the 1930s. Coughlin became hugely popular -- at his height, he had more than 30 million listeners -- by spewing anti-Semitism over the radio waves. At the outbreak of World War II, radio stations began refusing to carry Coughlin's program, which suggests one further way to counter the Trump phenomenon.

The GOP didn't create Donald Trump, and every one of his opponents wishes he would disappear because Trump makes it difficult for anyone else to get attention. Trump is aided and abetted by the media because they provide the megaphone by which Trump reaches his audience. Trump's outrageous comments provoke blanket TV and print coverage and then garner invitations for him to appear on TV and give radio talk shows endless opportunities to invite his supporters to weigh in favorably.

What if the media exercised some responsible discretion by not inviting Trump on to spread his hate? In the wake of his latest rant, Trump appeared on Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN and ABC, with in-person and call-in interviews lasting from several minutes to more than a half-hour. No candidate can buy this amount of time; indeed, Trump has run a shoestring media campaign so far, spending less than $300,000 on radio ads in a few early-primary states, according to The Hill.

In effect, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN and other networks are making in-kind contributions to Trump by giving him so much more airtime than they give the other candidates, and it isn't just because he's the front-runner. I don't remember Mitt Romney, John McCain or George W. Bush -- or any other candidate -- getting this kind of treatment in previous GOP contests.

It's time for the media to just say no to Donald Trump. If we disdain prejudice and bigotry, what better way to lessen their effect than to stop giving their proponents more airtime?