Donald Trump’s Republican Party.
It’s very telling that Trump has been touting “law and order” as the cornerstone of his speech at the Republican National Convention. Indeed, appeals to that idea has perhaps been the cornerstone of Republican strategy for decades.
In 1981, Reagan campaign strategist Lee Atwater gave an anonymous interview to Alexander Lamis (his identity was revealed several years later). In it, he recounted how Richard Nixon had used racial dogwhistles to win over former Democrats from the South in the 1968 Presidential election:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Nixon made these racial appeals during a time of great tumult for the world. Demonstrations and revolutions were sweeping the globe. In a time of great anxiety for most Americans, including an increase in street crime, Conservatives made a strong appeal for more retribution and less rehabilitation in the criminal justice system. And critically, with the antipoverty measures of the New Deal now being extended to African Americans under the Great Society programs, many Southerners abandoned their previous support for populist programs. Instead of a government that sought to combat poverty and rehabilitate criminals, the inclusion of Black people in what were considered “Americans” drove many Republicans and Conservatives to favor what they called “small government” and “family values.”
It seems that this week the Republican Party has chosen as their standard bearer a man with several ex-wives, children with many of them, a man who is open about his many infidelities. Someone who openly values women only for their value as sex objects.
With their support for such a candidate, they’ve lost the mantle of being the party of “family values.”
Trump has advocated imprisoning the press and his political opponents and creating a government registry of religious affiliation. With great acclaim within the party, Trump has voiced his full throated desire to circumvent due process in criminal justice trials, and his advocacy of massive spending and use of eminent domain for an infrastructure problem on the border. This is entirely unsurprising given George W. Bush’s massive expansion of government powers during his tenure.
They’ve lost any claim the mantle of “small government.”
Trump is the nominee. The Republican Party establishment and the large number of voters who cast ballots for Trump consented to all of this. He’s the nominee. So after we’ve stripped away those two core ideals that Republican’s are supposed to represent, what are we left with?
They’re the party of White Supremacy.
I’m scared to be living in such times. But I’m glad that after decades of equivocation, they’re finally admitting it.