The leading Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, thinks the United States should start registering Muslims and keeping an active database of them.
On Thursday with Yahoo News, Trump told a reporter that he wouldn't rule out forcing Muslims to register with the federal government.
He went on to say:
“We’re going to have to—we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
Most of the rational people in the US thought that Trump couldn't possibly mean that he was in favor of forcing members of a specific religion to register with the government (what with such parallels to Nazi Germany and the Jews). Clearly, beltway pundits argued, there is some misunderstanding.
Later that evening, Trump would double-down on his registering Muslims comment, proving the often wrong beltway pundits wrong again.
He told NBC News, who was asking if he meant there should be a government program to track Muslims:
“There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems.”
When asked how this would differ from Nazi Germany's registration of Jews, Trump responded:
“You tell me, you tell me. Why don’t you tell me.”
Now, some rational people may think that these comments, echoing a horrible policy associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust (not to mention meaning increasing the size of government) would end Trump's presidential aspirations, but this is the same candidate saw his poll numbers increase after calling Mexicans murders and rapists and John McCain a loser for being captured in war.
I have a hard time believing that Republican voters, the same ones who are terrified of Syrian refugees right now, will have the same problems with what Trump is suggesting as rational people do.
But the real question is, if Trump's poll numbers go up as a result of these comments, what does this mean for the rest of the Republican field, already pushed into making ridiculous and offensive comments just to get a sliver of the attention that Trump gets? Will they also echo similar sentiments?