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The Real Reason the “Trump Effect” Is So Dangerous

Single mothers in Illinois breathed a sigh of relief last week when an utterly insane and punitive bill targeting them and their children was killed in the state legislature. The proposed law, sponsored by Republican Representatives John D. Cavaletto and Keith Wheeler, would have denied birth certificates to all babies born to single women who were either unwilling or unable to name the child's father. And while Donald Trump didn't write the law, he certainly deserves some credit for it.

Here's a quote from the bill:

"Provides that if the unmarried mother cannot or refuses to name the child's father, either a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence or, within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named, in court, on the birth certificate. Provides that absent DNA evidence or a family member's name, a birth certificate will not be issued and the mother will be ineligible for financial aid from the State for support of the child."

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The result of this absurd throwback to the Dark Ages would have been to exclude thousands of children from public assistance, education, healthcare, Social Security, and a hundred other basic rights that require birth certificates simply because their fathers are absent either by choice or circumstances. There was no exception provided for rape or incest. And the implication that no single mother can financially support her own child is beyond insulting.

But that's not even the really scary part.

Shame on these Republican men for their failed attack on poor families. Shame on them for their racist and classist prejudices. Thank goodness for the national outcry that helped to ensure this ridiculous law will never see a vote. But don't think for a second that we are safe. Don't think we won't see another bill like this or one that springs from the same hateful attitudes. Don't think that it can't happen in my state and that it can't affect me. Yes, it can. And it probably will. It's just another symptom of what has been called the "Trump Effect": the radicalization of American right wing politics.

He has given mainstream status and political legitimacy to the radical right wing , allowing sexist and racist hate speech to become a normal part of the political discourse.

Mikki Morrissette, founder of ChoiceMoms.org, a website that provides information and support for women who choose to become mothers without a partner, has noticed a disturbing trend.

"When there has been some progress," says Morrissette, "there is a mobilized effort to combat it in some way. There are more efforts to legislate the complexion of family in the states."

Morrissette points to the recent victories achieved for LGBT families: the recognition of same-sex marriage by the US Supreme Court, the evolution of adoption and surrogacy laws in a number of states. But every battle won by decency and justice brings a backlash of renewed attacks by bigots and fundamentalists.

It is not an accident that while we celebrate the changing national attitudes about what families should look like, Donald Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump's violent, xenophobic, and fascist rhetoric has encouraged hate groups that previously only lurked on the fringes of society. He has given mainstream status and political legitimacy to the radical right wing , allowing sexist and racist hate speech to become a normal part of the political discourse. Even the Republican Party is frantically scrambling to distance itself from Trump, to disavow his most offensive positions and the hate crimes they are beginning to inspire.

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So, what does this have to do with our misguided Republican lawmakers in Illinois? "The Rachel Maddow Show" producer Steve Benen sums it up perfectly:

"And therein lies one of the under-appreciated consequences of Trump's bigotry and extremism: he's pushing the broader debate so far to the right that truly odious Republican measures start to appear 'moderate' by comparison."

This is the "Trump Effect" we will have to face in the future: that when we defeat Trump—and we will defeat him—Republican attempts to control, exclude, and punish women and families in this country will be painted as moderate, even reasonable. We are already living in a society where disgraces like the Illinois bill are given serious and public consideration. We can't accept this.

While Representatives John D. Cavaletto and Keith Wheeler are probably not the ones yelling "Seig Heil!" at Trump rallies, they are no less dangerous. We should fight them with the same commitment. And we should never see them as a lesser evil.

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Photograph by: Getty Images

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