A little over fifty years ago, the GOP made a deal with the devil and now he’s let the world know that he’s claimed the party’s soul. Donald Trump is the culmination of Nixon’s Southern Strategy that invited the racist wing of the Democratic Party into the GOP. Last night, the President of the United States refused to denounce white supremacy, instead recognizing a neo-fascist group of thugs called the Proud Boys and let us know loudly and clearly that he will not accept the results of this year’s election if they aren’t to his liking. The display should have been shocking but, unfortunately, it was predictable.
In the first presidential debate, Trump showed he has little self-discipline or respect for others. He interrupted Joe Biden repeatedly and ignored pleas from moderator Chris Wallace to allow Biden to speak. He lied repeatedly and forcefully. Finally, he told the American public that their election system is broken and implied heavily that he will not accept the outcome if he loses. That’s authoritarianism and Republicans who support him now can no longer deny his threat to our democracy.
Trump and the forces behind him have been part of our country throughout its history. They are not part of a party. They are a movement of violent authoritarians who controlled the South throughout the first half of the twentieth century. They were largely defeated during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the defeated white supremacists joined the ranks of a fledgling GOP where they were paid lip service and fed table scraps while the adults in the alliance built a pro-corporate conservative party.
However, instead of losing power and influence, the white supremacists quietly survived and grew like an ignored cancer. With the election of the first Black president, they were able to bolster their numbers and flex muscle within the Republican Party. The establishment wing of the GOP saw them as an electoral force and turned a blind eye to their racist rhetoric and imagery. The mainstream Republicans reluctantly conceded defeat to the newly powerful populists who captured the Republican nomination in 2016 and surprised them by winning the White House.
As Trump emboldened the white nationalists and authoritarians, the old GOP establishment whined about falling Confederate monuments that should have been down decades ago. While armed right-wing militia roamed the streets and occupied the capitol in Michigan, conservatives complained about vandalism in the wake of the George Floyd killing. When an armed 17-year-old shot protesters in Wisconsin, Republican groups hailed him a hero. The same people sat silent when 14-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by a vigilante who was never held accountable.
Now, as Trump tries to discredit our democracy, the same GOP establishment is enabling him. For the past decade, they have been pushing voter suppression schemes under the guise of voter fraud, a cry with implicit racist overtones. The whole voter fraud charade began when Barack Obama won states like North Carolina and the GOP’s populist base could not believe that many Americans would support a Black man for president. In their narrow minds, it had to be fraud.
The establishment used that sentiment to push through laws that restricted access to the ballot box, carefully targeting African Americans and younger voters. Trump is taking the voter fraud claims to their logical conclusion. He’s telling voters that the electoral system is so broken that we cannot count on the outcome. On national television last night, he said that we cannot count on the peaceful transfer of power that has defined our country for more than 230 years. We will see if the establishment sides with democracy or authoritarianism.
The GOP has deteriorated into a party of white supremacists, authoritarians, grifters, and their power hungry enablers. The party that once stood for lower taxes, less government, and free trade now stands with armed militia and a police state. Their call for freedom and liberty applies only to the ability to resist taxation and has little correlation to civil rights and the belief that all people are created equal. They sold their souls to the devil and now it’s up to the rest of us to prevent them from taking our country with them.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >