Washington( CNN ) Donald Trump’s political hurricane is no accident. It’s been brewing in the Republican Party for decades.
Yes, the wild force tearing through the Republican White House race is a reflection of the grass roots’ current ferocity at government and a insurrection against establishment party leaders that has already swept away the likes of former House Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenant, Eric Cantor.
And it’s at least partly an individual phenomenon based on the charismatic appeal of Trump himself. The billionaire’s brash television virtuosity and mastery of social media has connected with an angry swath of Republican voters in a way no other nominee has managed and is likely to be put to the test again in the final GOP debate of the year, on CNN from Las Vegas on Tuesday night.
Shea told Trump’s rise was a natural extension of the upheaval of the tea party epoch, born in the dislocation of the Great Recession, the fallout of two wars and sweeping change on issues like gay rights.
“At the same time that the tea party rises up, we have a woman speaker of the House( Nancy Pelosi ), an openly gay chairman of a major congressional committee( Barney Frank) and an African-American in the White House with an odd-sounding name.”
He continued, “There is a last-ditch attempt to bring back something that they once had. Then this results into Trump, who is a true outsider.”
Trump is not the only candidate to notice this group of voters is up for grabs. His GOP rival, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is aiming to build a more aspirational coalition bridging more establishment voters, social conservatives and the disaffected working class, made a pitch for the last group’s supporting in a new campaign ad released on Monday.
“This election is about the essence of America, ” he told, seeming directly into the camera. “( It’s) about all of us who feel out of place in our own country, a government incredibly out of touch and millions with traditional values branded bigots and haters.”
In this read of America’s changing culture, Trump’s ascent is watched by some conservative commentators as outside the movement itself. As such, he begins to look more of an opportunist and a classic populist than successful candidates motivated by a core ideology.
“Trumpism has nothing to do with conservatism. He is not a conservative. Most of the most prominent public positions he has advocated go against conservative orthodoxy, ” told Matt Lewis, a conservative commentator and writer of the book “Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections( And How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative roots ), ” due to be published next month.
“What we have right now is that the white working class is very scared and upset, ” he continued. “I think that has to do with the bad economy and I think it has to do with technological change and globalization, the rise of ISIS and terrorism.”
He concluded, “There is a phenomenon that is taking place that has nothing to do with conservatism other than the fact that the Republican Party has essentially become the de facto home of working-class whites.”
Roots in the New Deal
Richardson, the Boston College professor, traces the roots of Trump’s rise to well before the 1990 s. She goes back to a breach in the Republican Party that first opened over New Deal social programs after World War II.
Republicans like President Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller realized that such social legislation was popular and accepted it, while an opposite, more conservative wing of the GOP repudiated programme and also opposed the New Deal’s regulation of businesses, developing an anti-government creed that stretched from 1964 Republican nominee Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan to the George W. Bush of the 2000 campaign and into the modern conservative movement.
She said that supporters of President Richard Nixon, meanwhile, opened the door to rhetoric critical of minorities, women and anyone perceived as get a “handout” from the government — charges that are familiar in the 2016 race.
“Trump is the logical extension of that. We have been moving down that road, ” Richardson said.
Whatever role the party itself played in fostering Trumpism, its elites are now flummoxed at the prospect that the dynamic could doom them in 2016.
Republican leaders fear that Trump’s fiery postures could push independents and even moderate Republicans into the arms of probable Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. At the same time, the billionaire industrialist has threatened to mount an independent presidential bid if he is not treated with “respect” by the party.
The GOP can ill afford to lose the Trump coalition, especially with the 2016 election likely to be close.
But the presence of Trump inside the party also threatens to drive away voters turned off by his rhetoric and antics.
“With Trump in the whole way, I cannot come up with a scenario where the Republicans can get through this, ” told Shea. “Either he bails and he takes his supporters with him. Or he stays and ruins the brand.”
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