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Sunday, May 29, 2016

How long has the "party of Lincoln" really been the party of Trump?

Trump's latest poll numbers have me considering the lessons this election is teaching me about what's been really going on in US politics for decades.
There's been chatter all year about this possibly being a "realignment" election like 1856 or 1964 or 1988, but that notion has been based on the presumption that a good half of Republican voters wouldn't support Trump, and that these rejects would want a party that represents them.
Now it's looking increasingly likely that Republican voters and politicians will support Trump after all, and that the election will break down under traditional partisan lines. Which raises the question: have liberals been right this whole time that conservativism and the GOP are based upon a reactionary desire for more oppression?
Even if Trump loses, a majority of politicians at all levels nationally have been elected by voters who now say they're willing to vote for Trump. Which is terrifying, and has been terrifying for years.
Compare the wide appeal of apocalyptic politicians like Trump, Cruz, and Palin--with policy proposals that are not even designed to make sense--to the absence of any comparable politicians on the left. The Republican voter base has turned out to include a shocking number of people who want these horsemen of the apocalypse in power.
Not that there haven't been some decent, Jack Kemp-style wonks involved over the years, but it turns out that the progressives were right: these have been little more than stalking-horses for a mass of ecstatically repressive, aggressively closed-minded voters.
And this apocalyptically destructive appeal has always been there. Look back at US electoral history since 1960 through the lens of the 85% of self identified conservatives who say they'll vote for Trump; it seems like a decades-long, extended struggle of pluralistic civilization against a party that most wants, deep down, to root out and purge that pluralism in holy fire.

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