Paul Krugman’s latest Op-Ed neatly sums up the hypocrisy of the GOP’s shock over Donald Trump’s tactics in one painfully truthful paragraph. He writes:
Republican political strategy has been exploiting racial antagonism, getting working-class whites to despise government because it dares to help Those People, for almost half a century. So it’s amazing to see the party’s elite utterly astonished by the success of a candidate who is just saying outright what they have consistently tried to convey with dog whistles.
To anyone familiar with Republican electoral tactics, it is clear that Trump is basically saying what their constituency believes — that black people are lazy, Mexicans are stealing their jobs, torturing Arabs is fun, and women should stay in the kitchen. Of course Republicans cannot come out and say this given they need to attract moderates in general elections (who understand it is a tactic and vote mostly due to economic reasons), but the insinuation is enough to rile up and activate their base of angry white voters.
Trump’s willingness to say this out loud is essentially pulling the rug out from beneath the establishment’s feet and depriving them of a tactic that has proven successful for decades. Trump just doesn’t bother insinuating — he comes out and says it, much to the delight of the GOP base who instinctively understand that the political classes don’t have their best interests at heart.
And this is where it gets interesting. As Krugman points out, Trump has also come out in favor of protecting social security — a government program the GOP has been trying to dismantle for decades — and publicly shamed George W. Bush for his invasion of Iraq. These issues are supposed to be off limit for Republican candidates — sacred cows that can never be slain for fear of undermining the conservative sense of self. Yet here Trump is, arguing in favor of government programs,calling George W. Bush the worst president in history, and winning.
This, as Krugman says, represents the twilight of the party apparatchik:
The result is an establishment comprising apparatchiks, men (mainly) who have spent their entire professional lives in an environment where repeating approved orthodoxy guarantees an easy life, while any deviation from that orthodoxy means excommunication. They know that people outside their party disagree, but that doesn’t matter much for their careers.
Now, however, they face the reality that most voters inside their party don’t agree with the orthodoxy, either. And all signs are that they still can’t wrap their minds around that fact.
From a historical point of view, this is a fascinating time to be alive as we are witnessing the planet’s most dangerous political party evaporate in spectacular fashion, and all thanks to a reality TV star with fake hair.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.