This was the election cycle during which the GOP planned on showing us that they had moved beyond the Southern Strategy. They were happy about the campaigns of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of Hispanic origin. They also had a woman, Carly Fiorina, as well as Ben Carson, a celebrated neurologist who also happened to be black.
This was the year that the Republican Party had finally caught up with the 21st century, and they wanted to show their diversity to the American voters. Then Donald Trump came in like a wrecking ball, and turned all of that upside down. In response to their usual promotion of trickle-down corporate economics, he launched a counter message that embraced a populist ideal that blamed the loss of American exceptionalism on the very people the GOP wanted to attract to retain political evidence.
All of the Republican Party’s plans for replacing President Obama with someone like Jeb Bush fell to the side, as Donald Trump roared to the top of their primary polls, and unleashed havoc within the GOP. To the Republican establishment, Donald Trump had moved from an outside agitator and suddenly became their front-runner.
While candidates like Jeb Bush and others wanted to move to the center and go back to the Bush years, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have upset that apple cart and have moved the party’s rhetoric back to a time before I was born. This was a surprise to a political party which wanted to maintain conservative economics that benefited their contributors, while assuring their religious voters that they still cared about abortion and fighting gay marriage.
In states across the Bible Belt, it’s isn’t hard to sell voters on conservative talking points like god, guns and “traditional values.” Even to this day, the Southern Strategy is alive and well. It really isn’t hard to find poor white people who blame minorities for their loss in life, and those people will gladly tell you that their friend who didn’t finish highschool is smarter than a highly educated president who graduated an Ivy League school.
Now comes word that former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke has not only called Trump ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest of the presidential field, but he also believes Trump speaks ‘a lot more radically’ than he does.
“As far as what I see, according to the candidates that are out there now, Republicans and Democrats, I think he’s head and shoulders right now above the rest,” Duke said, noting he hadn’t officially endorsed Trump. “I don’t agree with everything he says, he speaks a little more, actually he speaks a little more, a lot more radically than I talk. And I think that’s a positive and negative.” (Source)
These are the people who Donald Trump is courting – the same people who have believed years of Fox News and other conservative media sources that claim President Obama is planning to destroy America and take their guns away.
Trump’s appeal is to white Americans who think that they’re being persecuted by the progress the country has taken under the Obama years. They’re angry not only about progress, but about the growing economic inequality and the exportation of jobs. They blame immigrants for taking their jobs, while demonizing the same immigrants for allegedly exploiting the same social safety nets they’re relying on after their jobs were lost thanks to corporate greed.
There have been accounts of Donald Trump supporters yelling about “white power” or even demonstrating with Nazi salutes at his rallies. Trump has been used by the KKK to recruit new members and this trend is only getting worse.
Our country is at a political crossroads in 2016. We can choose to go down a more progressive path laid out by Bernie Sanders, or we can wander down the rabbit hole Donald Trump is proposing. One path leads to prosperity for more Americans, and the other leads to social and economic ruin under Donald Trump’s new Republican Party.
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