When Mitt Romney was beaten by Barack Obama in 2012, the defeat was so bad that Republicans decided to do an “autopsy.” They were desperate to find ways to avoid the debacle this coming November. They published an important report, which, though nearly 100 pages long, can be summed up in two sentences:
-The party must stop alienating ethnic minorities, women and homosexuals.
-The party must be the “champion” of all Americans, not just the rich.
The diagnosis was clear. However, most of the party’s leaders acted like a patient who, after having seen the doctor, refuses to go to the pharmacy and get his prescription.
It’s heartbreaking, but not surprising. The double header — demonize the other and favor the richest — has been at the core of the party’s strategy for decades.
The economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has deciphered this Machiavellian strategy. The turn was taken, according to him, by Ronald Reagan. The Republican Party then openly decided to “exploit racial antagonism” to win.
Over the years, they have set up a remarkably efficient network to promote their ideas, including the idea of fearing the federal government — Donald Trump thus presents himself as public enemy number one of the Washington establishment —because it is not proper to redistribute money from the richest to those who don’t deserve it.
Today, the media, influential research institutions, and all sorts of other ultraconservative —and notably religious — groups defend these ideas tooth and nail, by themselves exploiting intolerance.
Donald Trump’s candidacy is thus not an error. On the economic front, he is more protectionist than his opponents and seems more concerned about the plight of Americans who live from hand to mouth. But on the social front, his retrograde and radical ideas are not that different from those of the ultraconservatives, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Except that Donald Trump is betting on intolerance — and in his case, hatred and racism — with more enthusiasm and passion than his rivals. The most extreme example was his refusal, during a recent interview, to firmly disavow David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
In short, Donald Trump is the pyromaniac in chief.
But Republicans have been playing with fire for years. And they have provided him with both matches and a can of gasoline.
After Super Tuesday, Republican strategists woke up with a serious hangover, because American society, in full demographic revolution, is increasingly open and tolerant. Recent presidential elections demonstrate that it is no longer possible to win with only the white vote.
If Donald Trump becomes the Republican candidate, he will thus, possibly, hit a wall in November. If necessary, we hope that party leaders will, during a possible autopsy, have the courage to admit that they are reaping what they have sown.