Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The GOP Fracture: How Complete Will It Be?

The London Financial Times has a searing examination of the fracture that is occurring in the Republican Party and is--properly--comparing it to what happened when the Democrats lost the South (1964 Civil Rights Act). Article is here.

"The cause is the same as in 1964: reaction against social change that has eroded the value of white privilege. But at another level, this is a revolt by Republican voters who no longer believe that their party supports their basic economic interests. While the leader of this rebellion is one of the rankest opportunists ever to appear on the American political scene, the white working class’s feeling that it has been seduced and abandoned by the Republican party is perfectly justified."

Jacob Weisberg (a Salon columnist borrowed for this essay) writes that Democrats appealed to uneducated Southern white people because they stood for them economically and defended them against the monied interests. Along came the Republicans who appealed to these Southerners' basest instincts: racism, homophobia and resentment of liberals.

This group of Republicans "do not support free trade and globalization. They do not favor tax cuts for the wealthy, or bailouts for banks, or financial deregulation, or the rollback of consumer protections. And, though nationalistic, their families are the ones that paid the human cost for the neoconservative fantasy of bringing democracy to Iraq."

The result of this split? "Granted the nomination, Mr. Trump will drive away the Republican elite in this year’s election. Denied it, he may lead the white working class out of the party for good, or clear the path for its slow-motion removal." Neither of which breaks my heart.

However, my next concern could well be Democrats overplaying their hand--as the party in power seems unable to avoid--and destroying itself once again. It is a cycle that appears to be as unavoidable and inevitable as climate change's fierce storms.

"Once parties rupture in this way," writes Weisberg, "only a master of constructive ambiguity like Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton can paper over their fundamental disagreements. There is currently no such figure at large in the Republican Party."


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