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Fruits of this Poison Tree: Republicans Can No Longer Pretend They’re Not the Party of White Identity Politics


I think I started writing about the coming implosion of the Republican party here as far back as 2005.  It seems to be dawning on Republicans that it is now.inevitable.  This article in VOX is a case in point.

Thanks to the rise of Trumpism, that thin skinned, ego- driven, brand of white nationalism that now owns the Republican party, Republicans can no longer pretend not to be the party of white identity politics. Honest observers have known this to be the case since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Goldwater, Reagan, Trump — they have all borrowed heavily from the white-resentment playbook, as have right-leaning politicians, interest groups and media outlets, for decades.

This served them well in a cynical sense, driving political passion into the conservative movement and interest groups. Right arguments from the second amendment to Roe have long held a deeply racist core, and this is by choice.

A funny thing happened on the way to our national and state capitals, however. As Republicans stood on the shoulders of their racism and gained enough power to try out their “conservative policies,” we got ourselves a genuine experiment in conservative vs. progressive governance.

It is NO coincidence that Trump has risen up to rip the fig leaf off the festering forelock of conservative policy. Yes, the Republican Party gained power in no small part by stoking racism across the nation. But in the Republicans gaining power, we also got to see how desperately flawed conservative policy is in practice.

Conservative “family values” ignore the needs of families and postulate unconstitutional bathroom policies, anti-LGBT policies, anti-women policies, and anti-family policies. You want Republicans to take action on pressing national issues like our crumbling infrastructure, the threat of viral outbreaks, or healthcare for.veterans? Fine, all you have to do is let children starve and let our sick and elderly die in the streets.

Conservatives tout their devotion to a “strong military,” but neocon adventurism gave us endless multi-trillion-dollar wars, and while revealing just how much disgust the GOP has for our veterans. Provide proper housing for vets? Not without tax cuts for the wealthy and subsidies for big business. Healthcare for vets? who can afford that? Invest in additional security for our missions around the world like in Benghazi? He’ll no! Let’s just put the Democrats on show trial for six years and blame them for the deaths that Republican intransigence caused. In sum, Republican “Strong military” dogma in practice is revealed to be an excuse to give contracts to industrial complex power donors and ignore the needs of the men and women who serve with honor and genuine patriotism.

The most destructive for our nation is the conservative mental enslavement that goes by the name “small government.” Like a decades-long mental locust swarm, this mental affliction has convinced generations of Americans that the federal government is in no way a product of our own choices and preferences as voters and participants, but that rather it is an oppressive occupying force stealing the wealth of hard working Americans and “overburdening” business with dangerous regulations like workplace safety, and insider trading. All completely false, of course.

The conservative movement has succeeded, thanks to the racism that drove Ronald Reagan’s political success, in giving tens of trillions of dollars in largess to the least needy among us, protecting the powerful and gutting the American middle class. It is no mistake that American capitalism is ruled by monopolist power, that Congress is now an instrument of oligarchy rather than democracy, or that the American middle class no longer exists. It is a function of the policies of conservatives who have moved the wealth and power of this nation from the hands of the American people and into the hands of the 1% – and subsequently offshore to avoid taxation and reinvestment in our future.

How corrosive is conservatism, the Republican Party, and the white nationalism that has powered it for the past five decades? Corrosive enough to have ended freemarket capitalism, the middle class and democracy in America.

Yes, it is time for a Republican Party that is not driven by racism as its “gravitational center.” But it is also time for a new Democratic Party, one that will genuinely return to us what these infested decades have cost and to a new ethic of inclusion, involvement, and pride that will mean a new social compact for America and the world.

  • Jim B

    Easier said than done. Our conservative friends and neighbors are not going to change in my opinion so we will probably have to wait them out. At my age l will be long gone before that change comes.