Reprinted from WSWS
The Republican presidential nominee in 2012, Mitt Romney, denounced the party's current presidential frontrunner, billionaire Donald Trump, in a remarkable speech Thursday at Utah State University. In the 20-minute address, broadcast by all the cable networks to a national television audience, Romney called Trump a fraud, a threat to democracy and a man grossly unfit to be president.
The speech lays bare deep divisions within the US ruling class as a whole, which are ripping apart the Republican Party.
Romney, who made his fortune in private equity investing, focused his criticism on Trump's positions on economic and foreign policy. Trump's nationalistic economic policy "would instigate a trade war that would raise prices for consumers, kill export jobs, and lead entrepreneurs and businesses to flee America," he said.
Significantly, he criticized Trump from the right on the question of cutting Social Security and Medicare, which Trump claims to oppose. Romney declared that Trump's "refusal to reform entitlements and to honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt."
Romney ridiculed Trump's claims that he would put his business acumen to work for the US economy as a whole. He asked, "And what ever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there's Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks, and Trump Mortgage? A business genius he is not."
In terms of foreign policy, Romney warned that Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric was alienating US allies in the Middle East and helping ISIS, and he attacked Trump's professed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
His language was particularly scathing on Trump's persona, "the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics."
Romney concluded with a warning of the authoritarian and antidemocratic direction Trump would lead the country, although he stopped short of using the word "fascist":
"Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants, he calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss."
It is unprecedented in US history for the titular leader of one of the two major capitalist parties to go on national television to denounce his likely successor in such terms. With this declaration, Romney would seem to have burned any bridges to supporting Trump if he goes on to win the Republican nomination.
Trump's rise has been fueled by his demagogic and empty appeals to widespread anger, under conditions in which the Democratic Party and what passes for the "left" in American politics, no less than the Republicans, have pursued a policy entirely dedicated to the enrichment of Wall Street. The immense tensions within the United States are provoking sharp conflicts within the ruling class itself and threatening to break apart political institutions that have existed for generations.
Romney's remarks followed the issuing Wednesday of an open letter signed by 95 Republican foreign policy experts denouncing Trump and declaring they could not support him in the November election if he won the nomination. The group consists of some of the most ruthless defenders of the interests of American imperialism, but they attacked Trump for advocating trade war and torture, and for using "hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric" that "endangers the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims."
The signatories include former Bush administration officials like Michael Chertoff, Eric Edelman, Peter Feaver, Frances Townsend, Philip Zelikow and Robert Zoellick, as well as academic and media advocates of the war with Iraq like Max Boot, Eliot Cohen, Niall Ferguson and Robert Kagan.
As this list of war criminals and their apologists demonstrates, those figures in the Republican Party opposed to Trump are just as reactionary as the billionaire demagogue. They object to his social demagogy, however limited, because the next administration, whether Republican or Democratic, will be tasked with the destruction of what little remains of a social safety net in the United States.