By Arthur Garrison
For more than 50 years, the Republican party has cultivated a narrative to attract and hold the working class, high school educated, anti-intellectual white male voter who feels politically and economically emasculated in his own country.
The party has sought to attract and hold the modern Republican voter who resents and fears the disappearance of the 1940s Ozzie and Harriet American society he grew up in. The party began recruitment of this type of voter when it welcomed defecting southern democratic voters after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Over the years the Party has promoted a narrative that made clear who was at fault and to blame for the cultural and economic changes in America.
In the 1960s and 1970s the party focused on the rise of Blacks, women, homosexuals, the poor, Hispanics, people of color immigration, and Liberals of all stripes who were changing the American social and political culture.
In the 1980s, beginning with Reagan, the party focused blame on the federal government and asserted that it was incompetent, untrustworthy, violent to middle class values, and an impediment to individual success.
In the 1990s the party encouraged voters to believe that the blame for the lack of social, economic, and political success of middle class white males was affirmative action (Blacks, Hispanics, and women) and Liberals masquerading as Republicans.
In the 1990s the assertion that only conservative ideological purity would restore America began to take root within the party. The culmination of these narratives and perspectives was the formation of the Tea Party within the party after the election of Obama in 2008.
The Tea Party bore fruit in the 2010 and 2012 elections and the party took control of the House and Senate. The Tea Party base expected that decades old promises made by the party would be fulfilled and the policies of Obama would be turned back.
Here is the problem – nothing changed. Obamacare was not repealed. In fact it was fully funded.
Abortion funding through Planned Parenthood was continued, not ended. Homosexual marriage became the law of the land by a Supreme Court decree written by Justice Kennedy, a Reagan appointee!
Middle class wages remained stagnant under the republican domination of Congress. Rather than restoring middle class, high wage, blue collar, low skill jobs; the loss of these of jobs continued.
The size of the federal government and the budget deficit increased under the Republican Congress without any serious resistance. The Republican base voter felt it had been lied too and they resented it.
To make things worse, the political influence of Tea Party activists was actively resented by the party establishment. The Tea Party base resentment of the party establishment selection of Romney was further compounded by the fact that he lost.
Into this decades old resentment, steps Trump. When he declared his candidacy for the presidency, he instantly took primary control of the long standing issue of immigration from the party establishment by asserting that Mexico was sending rapists, murderers, and other criminals into America and that is why the wall must be built.
While in politics some level of civility is required, Trump rejected political correctness because, “political correctness is killing us” and we don’t have time for it because America is going down the tubes.
He stated that there needed to be a ban on all Muslims entering America until the incompetent federal government, “figures out what the hell is going on.”
Trump established his anti-political correctness bona fides when he said John McCain was not a real hero because all he did was get captured. Trump said, “I like people who were not captured.”
Trump has made clear to the press, especially FOX News, you, “can’t toy with me like they toy with everyone else.”
With his bone fides as the leading birther during the 2008 election, upon entering the race he broke the presidential hopes of long time social conservatives like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Scott Walker with little more than his physical presence.
He has made the Christian conservative bona fides of Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee irrelevant. With nothing more than his bluster and presence, he neutralized the exclusive command of the Tea Party credentials of Ted Cruz.
Trump is the beneficiary of the creation of the confrontational, anti-establishment politics created by the party in 1968, 1980, and 2008.
Trump is popular not only because he has tapped into the politics of government resentment that the party has nurtured since 1980, he has also tapped into the base republican voter who resents the party itself. Trump has taken advantage of the party establishment distain for the Tea Party.
Trump, in the end, is a populist who is masculine in running for president. He has his own plan which arrives like it’s Air Force One. Trump examples confrontation and independence. After fifty years of party weakness, to his supporters, Trump is someone who will fight both the left and the ineffective Republican establishment.
When attacked by opponents or by the media he demands public apologies and gets them. He needs no funding from Wall Street or the Republican political donor class. He commands the attention of the media by the force of his personality. He does not need to poll nor is he beholden to conservative media (FOX and conservative talk radio) to connect with voters.
Trump has not been humbled by the party and media presidential system; it’s been the other way around.
Trump has not only commandeered the party social conservative narrative without being a social conservative, Trump has commandeered the entire conservative movement of the past 50 years without being beholden to any of those who created it or to all of its canons. The tables are now turned.