Throughout its 162 years of existence, The Republican Party has lent its name to numerous public figures. Along with producing beloved American leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, the GOP has also been affiliated with politicians considered to be eccentric, radical, and unintelligent by Conservatives and Liberals alike; George W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, and Sarah Palin come to mind. In spite of these three, never before has the GOP had a candidate so potentially disastrous for the Republican Party itself as New York businessman, Donald Trump. In recent years, Trump has stepped into the political spotlight and, within the last 12 months, secured a leading role in the campaign for the Republican nomination in 2016.
Trump’s campaign has the potential to not only gut the American Conservative movement, but to also do irreversible damage to the Republican Party’s chances of ever winning the presidency again. His supporters, following the flawed ideology of “Trump-ian Logic”, ignore all of this, still believing that Trump is the best candidate on the GOP stage. Many of these supporters base their claim on the idea that Trump is attempting to “unify the party; and fight the establishment”. This, however, is both false and nonsensical due to the fact that Trump’s existence alone poses the greatest risk to the party by likely resulting in its dismantlement.
One reason for this is that Donald Trump is, without a doubt, the most repulsive and offensive nominee on the GOP stage in terms of what political positions he takes. He often spouts out racist rhetoric that paints the Republican party as a cesspool of racial discrimination. Also, most of his positions prove that Donald Trump is far from a Conservative. If anything, Trump can be identified as the poster boy and patron saint for the new ‘Alt-Right’. The fact that he is leading in the race for the Republican nomination is astounding. Finally, if Trump wins the nomination, upon his victory, a new conservative party will be formed, pulling the core Republican voters away from their own party. This would entail the end of the GOP formed 162 years ago.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly when American Liberals and Leftists began to paint the Republican party as racist. However, one school of thought would suggest that the 1960s is the likely point of conception for Conservatism’s modern branding as a racist ideology.
Evidence of this can be found in 1968, when the Conservative William F. Buckley Jr, and Leftist Gore Vidal verbally sparred on ABC news over the Republican and Democratic conventions taking place at the time. Throughout the discourse, Vidal accused Buckley of disguising racial prejudices when he spoke of pushing for law and order. This same accusation would, of course, later be routinely lobbed at Richard Nixon in his tenure as President in the early 1970s.
It seems ridiculous to view the GOP as the party of racism considering Abraham Lincoln, the abolisher of American Slavery, was a Republican. Upon research, it becomes clear that the sole reason for the founding of the Republican party was to end slavery. Of today’s two main political parties in the United States, it is the Democrats who have a history of racist positions.
The most infamous of these positions was taken by Democratic Governor of Alabama, George Wallace. In 1963, Wallace attempted to stop black students from enrolling in white schools, and pushed for the survival of segregation. Wallace’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” stunt is rightfully recognized as an embarrassment to not only the Democratic Party, but to the United States at large.
And yet despite history, America’s Conservatives are still perceived as the racist half of the country.
This perception became immensely clear when Mitt Romney performed embarrassingly with minorities in the 2012 Presidential election, losing by 44 points with Latino voters to President Barack Obama. This is where Donald Trump enters the picture. Unlike Governor Romney – who tried to appeal to minorities – Donald Trump outright spits on them. Donald Trump’s harmful racial rhetoric sets the Republican Party back at least 45 years in its perception as racist. Conservatives have spent years trying to convince the public that they are not racist; and in one election cycle, Donald Trump has reaffirmed the “Crypto-Nazi” Caricature of the GOP first coined by Gore Vidal during those 1968 debates.
Trump has caused this ‘set back’ by, for example, claiming that all Mexicans crossing the border illegally into the United States are “rapists” and “killers”. Not to mention Trump’s obsessive insistence on seeing Barack Obama’s birth certificate in 2008.
Donald Trump does immense damage to the Republican Party every time he insults minorities without reasonable evidence. He also, in turn, divides the Republican Party by pushing away actual Conservatives who do not hold racial prejudices. The supporters of Donald Trump who insist that he is a great unifier are not living in reality.
One of the most astounding facts regarding Donald Trump’s impressive lead during the Republican Primaries is his lack of classical Conservative ideas.
Until recently, Donald Trump has always been pro-choice on the issue of abortion, even claiming that Planned Parenthood “does do wonderful things”. But that does not seem surprising considering Donald Trump’s record of being a registered Democrat for many years; constantly flip-flopping allegiances.
Another area in which Trump does not have typically Conservative views is in the area of healthcare. Donald Trump has advocated for a government-run health care system in the past, however, like most positions Trump takes, he later denies it.
Finally, one issue that should disqualify Trump as the possible Republican nominee is his past stance on guns. In 2001, Trump expressed that he supported banning assault weapons, something few Conservatives support.
Trump’s lack of classical Conservative positions makes him the poster boy for what is now being called “The Alt-Right”. This new breed of phony Conservatives is made up of a number of groups ranging from Neo-Nazis; to surprisingly liberal anti-free speech Fascists. Trump supporters need to ask themselves: “How can Donald Trump unify the Republican Party considering that he disagrees with it on so many core issues?”. In spite of this, Trump’s lack of Conservative values is a trait overlooked by his supporters who are thought to be Conservatives themselves.
At the end of this nomination cycle, there are likely two possible outcomes both with the same ending: a divided right-wing vote. Even if Ted Cruz can manage to win the race for the Republican nomination, the general election will definitely be won by the Democratic Party; and most likely Hillary Clinton if Trump decides to run as a third party candidate. An election where Libertarians, Conservatives, Christian Democrats, Centrists, and Classical and Neo-liberals alike have to choose between two candidates, (likely Ted Cruz or Donald Trump), surely splits the entire ‘Right of Centre’ vote.
This fear of a split of the right-wing is the same reason why The Conservative Party of Canada came into existence in 2003, merging the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party. The success of merging Canada’s Conservatives was key in ensuring a full decade of Stephen Harper as Prime Minister of Canada.
The second unfortunate scenario relies on Trump winning the Republican nomination, and a candidate the likes of Ted Cruz being prompted to run as a third party candidate. The outcome would be the same: a split vote and another four years with a Democratic President.
In addition to this, a very large core of the Republican voters will permanently move over to a possible new Conservative party being headed by likely Ted Cruz or John Kasich. This means that the Republican Party itself will be cut in half in terms of supporters. And yet again, despite all of this, the “Trumplings” still insist that Donald Trump is the great unifier of Republicans.
It is clear that the Republican Party has produced many politicians who, for better or for worse, are now household names. Donald Trump’s recent foray into the Republican spotlight however, is not for the better. The only thing more frightening than Donald Trump’s rise to prominence in this election cycle is the loyal devotion of his followers who insist that Trump is a blessing to the GOP, not a curse. Despite his lack of conservative values, help in painting the party as racist, and likelihood of causing the party to be ripped into two; his supporters cling to the idea that Trump is the best candidate for President that the GOP can produce. It is because of these variables that Donald Trump is, without a doubt, the worst thing to ever happen to the Republican Party, and most likely going to be the cause of its tragic demise.