The Republican Party is Stuck With Donald Trump — Can't Come to Grips With Its Ignorant, Racist Base
By Gary Legum
The latest issue of the Atlantic has a long essay by conservative pundit and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum analyzing the current squabble between the GOP’s elite donor class and its rank-and-file voters — a fight that has resulted in Donald Trump dominating the presidential primary polls while easily swatting down every establishment challenger from Jeb Bush to Scott Walker. It’s a solid and clear-eyed piece from a writer who has, despite his conservative bona fides, occasionally committed apostasy in the last few years as his Republican Party has found itself in thrall to its angry, nativist base.
The piece falters, though, because Frum keeps ignoring one of the animating motivations of that same base. It’s not a case of ignoring the elephant in the room. This is more like ignoring the herd of elephants that just tore into his office and began stomping all the furniture, upending Frum so that he’s lying on the floor continuing to type into his laptop while his desk splinters and sharpened tusks obliterate the drywall.
I’m talking about racism, of course, and not just because I’ve read stories like this one examining how Trump’s candidacy has given white supremacists the biggest stiffies they have had since the Order blew away Alan Berg. Because we’re not talking about the type of racism that wears hoods and burns crosses on black families’ lawns. If anything, we’re talking about a racism more subtle and pernicious and backed into the structure of American society, a racism whose existence conservatives so often yadda yadda when the subject arises, a racism that we are forever exhausting ourselves just trying to prove to people like Frum that it exists.
But when you have spent hundreds of years being the dominant force in nearly every facet of society, you have to expect a backlash as that society becomes more open and multicultural. You can take the accusation as a personal affront, or you can acknowledge that not every white man in history has been, to put it mildly, as awesome as you think you are. It’s a complicated history, but also it is really not.