For decades the Republican Party has benefited from race hate in America. It is now suffering from it, and that’s dangerous for a two party system.
Where This Began…
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Republic Party decided to be the racist party because there were more white racist votes to be won than newly enfranchised black votes.
“Where once the Republican Party was motivated to play at racism to win votes, nowadays much of its membership is motivated by the racism itself.”
This was the “Southern Strategy”, though it was less a strategy at first than a hodgepodge of efforts to win the Old South states. Only by the late 1960s under Nixon did it become a clear strategy.
That strategy worked brilliantly.
From 1968 to 1988, six presidential elections saw five Republican victories. The only defeat was a very close run thing, and that was only after a Watergate scandal that should have crippled the party long term.
So racism was a great motivator for valuable voters – and with with millions and millions proving loyal even when it got caught usurping democracy, the party learned some lessons about how important it was to pick sides.
Then It Stopped Working – Sort of
The Southern Strategy had a natural lifespan. Once older voters who fought for apartheid died, and young voters grew up seeing a more equal world as normal, resentment and fear eased somewhat. That meant the strategy would stop delivering votes in big numbers.
“Trump won unexpected areas of the country partly by ramping up hatred and bigotry, but also by hating America.”
Indeed, since 1992, no Republican candidate for president has won the popular vote except incumbent George W Bush in 2002. He did so only in a national crisis – something that always boosts incumbents.
This left the Republican Party with a choice. Scrap the Southern Strategy (by now affecting it’s vote across the whole USA) or double down by getting more hateful to keep more small and southern states red.
Unfortunately for America, and for black lives right now, it doubled down.
Can it Last Much Longer?
Where once the Republican Party was motivated to play at racism to win votes, nowadays it is motivated by the racism itself.
“The problem with the list of who Republicans hate is that it includes almost everyone in America.”
A clever man once said that you can’t harness hate, it’ll just end up harnessing you. This happened to the Republican Party. Decades of attracting hateful members and voters while repelling decent people has left the party being driven by hatred to despise more and more Americans.
The End Game
Republicans now win votes by being against black people, Hispanic people, Muslims, Hindus and the wrong types of Christians. They oppose gay people, transgender people, immigrants and of course they hate white people who don’t hate too.
The problem with that list is that it is almost everyone in America. While some groups might be tricked into voting for a party that hates them for a while – because at least it hates who “we” hate too – that’s unsustainable because it is impossible to maintain for long and across so many divides.
“If you vote Republican, you vote for more violence as police continue to murder black Americans”
In this regard, Trump is probably the end game for the Southern Strategy. He has ramped up hatred as best as he can for his party but his real success in 2016 was not built on hating Americans.
Trump won unexpected areas of the country partly by hating America.
He attacked American government institutions and democracy with no end of idiot conspiracies. He cast America as a hasbeen country that was no longer great. He talked about how America was a corrupted cesspit that kept losing in global affairs and let its people down. He still attacks any US state that isn’t “his”.
That might seem rather un-nationalist for a nationalist, but it really isn’t. Just look at independence movements around the world. Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish Nationalists says much the same about Westminster and the UK (though without racism attached).
Hating America is potentially fertile ground for the Republican Party now, albeit they’d be foolish to say it out loud. Indeed, even while in charge of the country, they do surprisingly well to convince supporters that America is in fact still run by bad people who they want to defeat.
A New Civil War?
This might lead some to fear a new civil war. Certainly racist bits of America, supported by a Republican Party that will grow to hate the USA if it loses DC, will seek to assert their separatism.
But the USA has been there and done that. If separation movements arise, expect not a violent sudden event but a gradual rise in individual states seeking seperatism or greater state powers.
Unless of course hatred keeps winning the Presidency. If that happens, expect more violence as police continue to murder black Americans.