© Josh Sager – February 2016
Throughout his 2016 primary campaign, Donald Trump has appealed to the most racist, reactionary and anti-intellectual conservative impulses. He has taken the veiled extremism of the right wing and brought it front and center, then adorned it with a giant neon sign with his name in it (almost like it were one of his buildings). This choice has made Trump into the political equivalent to an auto-immune disorder for the right wing movement.
An auto-immune disorder is a disease where the body’s own immune system starts attacking healthy cells as though they are invading bacteria—in short, it is a disease where a part of the body that is normally vital to health starts attacking the systems it usually protects, causing them harm. These diseases can be severe, if the immune system starts attacking vital organs (e.g. the heart of liver), or simply irritating, if it attacks the skin (causing dry, rough, and itchy patches).
Just as the immune system is a vital component to keeping a human body healthy, veiled bigotry and anti-intellectualism have been absolutely vital to the GOP’s electoral success. Starting with the southern strategy of the Nixon administration, the GOP has hung its hopes on the social conservative movement, racists who felt as though their nation was being stolen, and southern reactionaries still angry over their loss in the civil war. These extremists have been the foot soldiers of the GOP movement and the main populist force backing up the big-money which fuels the party.
Trump has taken the common dog-whistle and whisper bigotry and driven them up to absurd and deafening proportions (e.g. calling for Muslims bans/registries). This has given him large amounts of support in the 2016 primary, but has also exposed the ugly heart of the GOP base to the rest of the country. Just to put the level of extremism being exposed, here are a few statistics polling firms have obtained about Trump supporters:
- 20% of Trump voters disagree with Lincoln’s choice to free southern slaves during the Civil War (via executive power and without compensating the Confederate plantation owners for their lost “property”).
- 36% of SC Trump supporters (the only place it was polled) wish that the Confederacy had won the Civil War.
- 75% of South Carolina Trump supporters and 66% of New Hampshire Trump supporters support banning Muslims from the USA.
These numbers are absolutely terrifying and any sane person should be extremely hesitant to sit in the same room as these lunatics. Imagine that you are an African American at a Trump event, looking around, and realizing that, statistically speaking, one of the four other people you are sitting with at your table isn’t really sold on the idea that your ancestors should have been freed during the Civil War. I have a feeling that you wouldn’t feel all too comfortable in that room anymore.
Put simply, the rise of the GOP base under this overtly bigoted and extreme banner exposes the GOP for what it truly is—a party built on bigotry and extremism. Gone are the days where people can make the excuse that they support the GOP on economic issues and don’t see any racism in the party. The racism is so clear and obvious that no honest and informed person can vote GOP in the presidential race and not know that they have, at minimum, tacitly approved of racism.
The Trump voters are like out of control white blood cells, rampaging around the GOP body and damaging it from within. Establishment elites don’t know what to do in the face of this threat and establishment politicians have repeatedly fallen to Trump’s extremism in the primary (Bush, Christie, Walker, et. al). The Trump voters will not be placated and could very well inflict lethal harm if nothing is done to get them back under control. While I, for one, would love to see the Republican Party go the way of the Whigs (if you have never heard of this American political party, that’s kinda my point), my fear is that gerrymandering, low turnout, disenfranchisement laws, and rampant ignorance could potentially let a minority of lunatics push Trump to the presidency. This is a nightmare situation and makes me much less gleeful to see the GOP tear itself apart in recent months than if this conflict were isolated from mainstream politics.