In the future, the fatuous neocon twits who make a living stoking working class racial resentments and ginning up religious hysteria in the service of lower corporate taxes and industrial deregulation will probably be called “Romney Republicans.” A moniker will be required to divide “respectable” Republicans from the Trumpean rabble, and maybe they’ll settle on that name.
But all post-Eisenhower Republicans consciously exploited dangerous racial and social fault lines so they could loot the national treasury on behalf of the wealthy and connected. There’s nothing respectable about using that cheap bit of misdirection. They couldn’t sell bullshit like “trickle-down economics” on its non-existent merits, so they sold downscale white folks an endless line of ooga-booga instead.
But now Trump is telling the rubes they can have dessert without eating their vegetables, and he’s expanded the menu to include new villains, such as job-offshorers and lying establishment politicians. And why would anyone gnash down “profits for me and parsimony for thee” when they can skip directly to dessert and openly (and literally) bash minorities, gays, uppity women, Muslims, etc., while having their economic pain validated?
Stung by Trump’s success in separating them from their meal tickets, some in the Romney wing are unsparing in their criticism of a once-prized constituent segment. Via valued commenter Arm the Homeless, here’s a sample of the primal scream of one such specimen, The National Review’s Kevin Williamson:
If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy—which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog—you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. The white American under-class is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul. If you want to live, get out of Garbutt [a blue-collar town in New York].
I think “the whelping of human children” is my favorite line. I’m trying (and failing) to recall a time when a prominent conservative writer expressed that level of contempt for fellow white Republicans. It doesn’t seem like a good strategy. Maybe smarter neo-cons will try to co-opt Trump. For all his railing about trade and theatrical rage at companies that offshore jobs, Trump’s tax plan and healthcare schemes are hardly distinguishable from those of, say, Paul Ryan.
I don’t rule out the possibility that a racist demagogue like Trump could win the presidency, but, in the absence of a cataclysmic event like a Paris-style terror attack or sharp economic downturn between now and November, I think it’s unlikely. Still, now that the power of Trumpism has been demonstrated at scale, it won’t go away. Romney Republicans will have to come up with a better answer than “move,” or their wind-up Marcos will keep losing to the Trumps. And that won’t be good for business.