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Hullabaloo


Thursday, August 31, 2017

 
The beast unchained

by digby



There is a lot of polling showing that Democrats and Independents are appalled by Donald Trump. But Republicans are ... less concerned.

Ronald Brownstein spoke with Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson about what's going on with her party:


[At] the same moment somebody like me is becoming very disheartened, there are voters who are thinking, ‘This is the Republican Party I have been waiting for.’ If I pack up my toys and go home, there are people in red MAGA hats who would be saying, ‘Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.’”

Anderson’s fear is that in a rapidly diversifying America, Trump is stamping the GOP as a party of white racial backlash—and that too much of the party’s base is comfortable with that. Trump’s morally stunted response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month unsettled her. But she was even more unnerved by polls showing that most Republican voters defended his remarks.

“What has really shaken me in recent weeks is the consistency in polling where I see Republican voters excusing really bad things because their leader has excused them,” she told me. “[Massachusetts Governor] Charlie Baker, [UN Ambassador] Nikki Haley, [Illinois Representative] Adam Kinzinger—I want to be in the party with them. But in the last few weeks it has become increasingly clear to me that most Republican voters are not in that camp. They are in the Trump camp.”

The portion of the party coalition willing to tolerate, if not actively embrace, white nationalism “is larger than most mainstream Republicans have ever been willing to grapple with,” she added.

Brownstein observes:

Anderson’s gloom is understandable. Even before Trump’s emergence, the GOP relied mostly on the elements of American society most uneasy with cultural and demographic change—the primarily older, blue-collar, rural, and evangelical whites who make up what I’ve called the “coalition of restoration.” As a candidate and as president, Trump has yoked the party even more tightly to those voters’ priorities—a tilt evident in everything from his “very fine people” remarks about the white-supremacist protesters in Charlottesville to his recent pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The modern GOP has always known it had this problem. But in the past even the worst of them made an effort to keep it under control. (Think of Bush going to a mosque a week after 9/11, modeling decent behavior for his angry followers.) Trump is modeling the worst behavior, taking it mainstream, offering the presidency as an instrument of their hate.

Yes, there are a lot of them. I'm not surprised because I've been around a while and have seen all this lurking under the surface. But Anderson is young. She didn't know. Well, we all know now.


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