My personal answer to the question posed in the title to this post is a resounding yes. In addition, I'd add that the GOP is also the party of Christian extremists who want a Christian theocracy just as much as the mullahs in the Middle East seek an Islamic theocracy. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the 20 year journey that the Republican Party has taken to get to the point where it is today. All of today's insanity and misogyny is the result of decisions made over the years to welcome in the ugliest elements of the far right fringe. Now the members of the fringe outnumber the sane, sentient members of the GOP. Here are article excerpts:
I’ve been reading recently about Bill Clinton’s presidency for a project I’m working on, and I just got to the part about the Oklahoma City bombing. What stood out to me, reading over this material in the Era of Trump, is the way a number of congressional Republicans at the time played footsie with the then-burgeoning far-right militia movements in the run-up to the bombing itself.
If you have no memory of that time, here’s what happened in a nutshell. Right-wing militia movements started growing in the late 1980s. . . . . three months into Clinton’s term came the FBI storming of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, resulting in 76 deaths. The next year Clinton and Congress passed, over the NRA’s objections (yes, this was possible, although it did help lose the Democrats their House majority in 1994), an assault-weapons ban. Finally, in April 1995, on the second anniversary of the Waco siege, Timothy McVeigh exploded his truck bomb in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.
What’s relevant to us today is the way Republicans and the mainstream conservative movement pandered to these militant far-right groups. Many didn’t merely criticize the ATF and the FBI, which was entirely reasonable under the circumstances, but went beyond that to stoke these peoples’ paranoia about government and suggest/not suggest, in that same way we’re familiar with on those non-answer/answers about Obama’s citizenship, that armed resistance was acceptable. Texas Senator Phil Gramm, who was prominent and respected and at one point a plausible presidential candidate, was probably the highest-profile pol to use such rhetoric, arguably aside from Newt Gingrich himself. And of course Republican and conservative movement stoking of fears about immigrants has been constant.
Aside from all the normal racial and xenophobic ranting, the AM airwaves were also full of defenses of these movements. G. Gordon Liddy, of Watergate infamy, once advised his listeners that if they saw an ATF man approaching, “Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests.”
There’s no serious counterpart to this on the liberal left.
The line from all this to the rise of Donald Trump, based wholly on his immigrant-bashing rhetoric, is direct and indisputable. Back in August, in The New Yorker, Evan Osnos went out and spoke to white nationalists and far-right figures who were enthusiastic about Trump. One, a man named Jared Taylor, who edits a white nationalist magazine, told Osnos: “I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”
Trump thus culminates a process that’s been going on in the Republican Party for two generations now. Fringe elements never properly denounced then are now, under Trump, becoming an in-broad-daylight part of the Republican coalition. But now, since all this has been going on so long, are they even fringe elements?
The Republican Party of Trump is becoming a white-identity party, like the far-right parties of Europe. Yes, it includes token members of other races, which accounts for Ben Carson, who’s just a political idiot, whatever his skills in the operating theater.
But whatever one wants to say about those three and others like them, they’re part of a tiny minority in a party that’s probably 97 percent white people, a significant percentage of whom are now openly embracing their racial identity; that is, they’re supporting Trump as white people, because they feel he will protect their white privilege.
What is the Republican Party going to do about this? So far it sure hasn’t done much. . . . . The only one who for my money sounds genuinely shocked and saddened by this situation is Lindsey Graham. The rest of them are basically ducking the historical moment and hoping it passes.
So there’s a strong chance all of this won’t just go away on its own. Then the Republican Party will have a choice, a choice it really has to make already, about whether it is collectively willing to stand up and say no, we don’t want to become a neo-fascist, white-identity party. Of course if the party’s leaders do that, they are thwarting, potentially, the will of their voters. It’s quite a bind to be in. And it’s one they created, starting at least 20 years ago.