Friday, January 08, 2016

Donald Trump and the Death of the GOP

The face of today's GOP
In a piece in the Washington Post, conservative columnist Michel Gerson bemoans what would happen to the Republican Party if Donald Trump were to secure the party's presidential nomination.  Among other things, he laments that Trump would make the "GOP the party of racial and religious exclusion."  News bulletin to Gerson: that has already happened to the GOP.  Trump merely would be the culmination of the process that started when the so-called GOP establishment first welcomed in Christofascists and then white supremacists into the party.  These cancers have metastasized and Trump id the result of this sickness.   I - and all of my family - were once Republicans, but we were driven out of the GOP once it became something ugly motivated primarily by religious extremism and the hatred of others that goes hand in hand with it, and by increasingly open racism.  Gerson should have begun his lament 20 years ago.  Here are highlights from his column which is incorrect in someways, but misses the point on when the death of the GOP began:
Every Republican of the type concerned with winning in November has been asking the question (at least internally): “What if the worst happens?” 

The worst does not mean the nomination of Ted Cruz, in spite of justified fears of political disaster. Cruz is an ideologue with a message perfectly tuned for a relatively small minority of the electorate. Uniquely in American politics, the senator from Texas has made his reputation by being roundly hated by his colleagues — apparently a prerequisite for a certain kind of anti-establishment conservative, but unpromising for an image makeover at his convention.

Cruz’s nomination would represent the victory of the hard right — religious right and tea party factions — within the Republican coalition. After he loses, the ideological struggles within the GOP would go on.

No, the worst outcome for the party would be the nomination of Donald Trump. It is impossible to predict where the political contest between Trump and Hillary Clinton would end up. Clinton has manifestly poor political skills, and Trump possesses a serious talent for the low blow. But Trump’s nomination would not be the temporary victory of one of the GOP’s ideological factions. It would involve the replacement of the humane ideal at the center of the party and its history. If Trump were the nominee, the GOP would cease to be.

[T]he aspiration, the self-conception, of the party was set by Abraham Lincoln: human dignity, honored by human freedom and undergirded by certain moral commitments, including compassion and tolerance. 

It is this universality that Trump attacks. All of his angry resentment against invading Hispanics and Muslims adds up to a kind of ethno-nationalism — an assertion that the United States is being weakened and adulterated by the other. This is consistent with European, right-wing, anti-immigrant populism. It is not consistent with conservatism . . .

Liberals who claim that Trumpism is the natural outgrowth, or logical conclusion, of conservatism or Republicanism are simply wrong. . . . . Lincoln is not even the distant relative of Trump.

[A]s a demagogue, he has followed some of America’s worst instincts wherever they have led, and fed ethnic and religious prejudice in the process. All presidential nominees, to some extent, shape their parties into their own image. Trump would deface the GOP beyond recognition.

Trump is disqualified for the presidency by his erratic temperament, his ignorance about public affairs and his scary sympathy for authoritarianism. But for me, and I suspect for many, the largest problem is that Trump would make the GOP the party of racial and religious exclusion.

The nomination of Trump would reduce Republican politics — at the presidential level — to an enterprise of squalid prejudice. And many Republicans could not follow, precisely because they are Republicans. By seizing the GOP, Trump would break it to pieces. 
Personally, at this point I do not believe the GOP can be saved from the ugly elements that have taken over the party base.  The sooner the party dies, the better.

No comments: