Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The GOP Has Become the Party of White Backlash

A column in the Washington Post by a former member of the George W. Bush White House asks if the GOP will become the party of white backlash.  Unfortunately, that transformation of the party has already become the reality of today's GOP when you look at the open racism of the current GOP occupant of the White House and candidates such as Corey Stewart here in Virginia who is running on an unabashedly racist platform - Stewart is likely having apoplexy over a decision by the Richmond Monument Avenue Commission to remove the monument to Jefferson Davis. Country club Republicans can whine and bristle at being called racists, but as long as they remain supporters of the GOP, they are in fact racists if not those marching carrying torches and Confederate flags. They are now known by the company they keep and, as the column points out, that company is pretty ugly.  As for moral considerations of open racism, the GOP threw away morality years ago when it allowed evangelical Christians - perhaps the most immoral force in American society if one looks beyond false and feigned piety - to hijack the party base.  Here are column highlights:

It should give the advocates of Trumpism — defined by some mix of protectionism, nativism and bitter resentment of elites — pause that the strongest advocates of the creed are some of the most frightening figures in American politics. I am not necessarily referring to the politicians Trump chooses to endorse in primaries — given that the president’s favor is more based on loyalty than ideology. I am talking about that subset of Republicans who take the ideals of Trumpism most seriously. People such as West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship, who, before losing the primary, ran ads highlighting the Taiwanese heritage of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife. Or Iowa Rep. Steve King, who argues, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Or Arizona Senate candidate and former sheriff Joe Arpaio , known for extreme ethnic profiling, terrorist raids, and cruel and unusual punishment. Or Virginia Senate candidate Corey A. Stewart, who has associated with white supremacists and thrown his state party into turmoil.
The phenomenon of Republican extremism is hardly new. At the height of the tea-party movement, the GOP had candidate fitness crises in Nevada, Delaware, Colorado, Missouri and Indiana. But two things are now different. First, the GOP establishment is weaker than at any time I can remember. Second, the rhetoric of Trumpism is more explicitly racial than at any time I can remember.
For a party at its height of influence, Republicans remain in a tenuous position at the national level because of Trump. They lost the popular vote count by nearly 3 million in the 2016 presidential election, and Trump has done almost nothing to expand his appeal. Long-term demographic trends are running against the GOP, with the non-Hispanic white population declining from 76 percent to 63 percent over the past two decades and the country on track to be majority minority by 2045 .
The political challenge for the GOP, in the meantime, is to “seriously reduce immigration and encourage population growth within the country.” Which clearly means population growth in that portion of the country with less melanin.
The problem? Trump already won the white vote by more than 20 percentage points in 2016. So how does the GOP rack up even greater white support? If Trump’s political strategy is any indication, this will involve a relentless emphasis on race and immigration — on kneeling black athletes, on immigrants who “infest” our country, and on Muslims who are targeted for suspicion.
A strategy of feeding white backlash against a multicultural future worked for Trump — barely — in 2016. Will it work for Republicans in 2018 and 2020? Perhaps, if Democrats move precipitously to the left. But in the longer run, will Trumpism appeal to millennials (who now consistently give Trump around a 25 percent approval rating )? Will it work with suburban women?
And what are the moral implications of a political strategy that employs racial and ethnic antagonism as a motivating factor? Is this really the set of values that Republican leaders want their children to absorb? Will conservatives so easily abandon conservatism for white identity politics? It is an approach to public life that will indelibly stain all who employ it — and all who excuse it.
“This is the question for Republicans going forward,” Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report told me. “Will the GOP be defined not just as the party of Trump but as the party that’s hostile to non-whites?” And what if there is no difference?
Again, already there is no difference. Those still clinging to the GOP need to stand in front of a mirror and take a long look at themselves and decide whether they are racists or not.  If the answer is no, the only option is to flee the GOP and work for its defeat.  

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