Here it is, Super Tuesday. And before the polls start to close, I wanted to say something that I hope to be wildly wrong on, but don’t expect to be.
A number of observers from a number of points along the political spectrum have suggested that nominating Donald Trump for president will be the end of the Republican Party. One in particular is Esquire’s political blogger, Charlie Pierce, who wrote today that the likelihood that Trump will emerge later tonight as the undisputed front-runner (if not nominee-apparent) — he’s likely to take seven of 11 states holding contested primaries today — will equate to the “implosion” of the GOP in much the same way the Whigs fell apart after the election of 1852.
I don’t follow this stuff as closely as Pierce, and I ain’t a political scientist. But I have been watching this stuff for almost 50 years now, and here’s what I think.
I don’t think the GOP is going anywhere, the fact that Pierce almost certainly is right about tonight’s results notwithstanding.
And the reason I don’t think the GOP is going anywhere is that Trump’s GOP constituency is racist, and I don’t think the racists in the party are going anywhere.
Wait, you say, not all Trump supporters are racist. And that’s probably true. Indeed, Trump’s supporters cross a wide variety of demographic lines: age, sex, rural/urban, education, and so forth.
But the one line they don’t cross is race. No, not all Trump supporters are racist, but the overwhelming majority of racists with a preference seem to prefer Trump. And that bloc has turned out to be larger than anyone, particularly pundits, thought.
And why would those people leave the GOP? After all, Trump didn’t just spring full-blown out of RNC chair Reince Priebus’s head. No, Trump is the natural outcome of a party that has been unashamedly racist in its whispers, sub-rosa appears and dog whistles, from Nixon’s “Southern strategy” in ’68 to the G.W. Bush campaigns rumormongering about the racial provenance of Sen. John McCain’s offspring during the 2000 Republican primary to the “voter ID” (read: vote suppression) campaigns post-2010.
Racism is where the Republican Party has dined for the past half-century. All Donald Trump has done is say that shit right out loud where God, pundits, and everybody else could hear it.
No, the GOP ain’t going anywhere because the racists aren’t going anywhere, and they’re the heart and soul of the party right now, as the (lack of) response to Trump’s non-rejection of Klansman David Duke’s endorsement shows. But the thing is? Most of the non-racists in the GOP aren’t going anywhere either. For one thing, they’ve got no place to go. For another, even if they did, as the old saying goes, in politics, Democrats fall in love but Republicans fall in line. Slightly more scientifically, Republicans, and Trump supporters in particular, tend toward the authoritarian. No other political institution gives them the top-down control they crave.
So there it is. As devoutly as the implosion of the current GOP is to be wished, it’s not happening tonight, it’s not happening this year, and whether Trump wins or loses in November, it’s not happening anytime soon. The reason, though too often unspoken, is obvious, and intractable. Like it or not, we’re stuck with this shit, and with the GOP as an institution, until a lot more bigoted Americans die.