Many members of the Republican Party are wondering how they ended up with The Donald as their presidential nominee. Establishment Republicans have been forced between a rock and a hard place, support the alleged billionaire who is killing their party’s image for years to come, or face the wrath of his supporters.
For the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency, the GOP has been held hostage by the far-right which will not allow them to work with him in any way. Obama Derangement Syndrome cost Eric Cantor his job, and forced Speaker John Boehner into retirement. Politicians who were considered firm conservatives in the past are now in the precarious position of supporting the Trump agenda and all of the hate speech that comes with it, even though it may cause them to lose elections in swing states and districts.
This uninformed white rage exploded into a supernova with the election of President Obama. There was a run on guns and ammunition in 2008, and the militia movement came to life once again. The Tea Party took over the Republican Party in 2010, led by Sarah Palin and the conspiracy-minded media folks like Glenn Beck or Alex Jones.
These people were firmly convinced that President Obama wanted to take their guns, that he wanted to indoctrinate children into homosexuality via Common Core, and that FEMA death camps were waiting for anyone who didn’t embrace his socialist Muslim plan for America.
Obviously, none of these things happened and instead of realizing this was a long con by the conservative click-bait media, the far-right fixed their sights on Hillary Clinton instead. As much as they hated President Obama for being a moderate liberal black president, their hatred for Secretary Clinton was infinitely worse, thanks in part to decades of Republican witch hunts against her and her husband.
Thanks to Facebook and the ease of creating a website, anyone could become a “news source” and websites like Breitbart or Occupy Democrats replaced reputable sources as information sources for the general public. All it would take is a few viral image macros playing to partisan confirmation bias, and someone with a knack for manipulating the masses could quit their day job and become well-off, simply by spreading hysteria and exaggerated half-truths.
Nobody in the Republican Party understood this better than Donald Trump. As a businessman, he knew how to find a niche market, and exploit it for every penny and outrage vote that he could get.
The Republican Party wanted desperately to take back the White House, even if it meant putting another Bush on the ticket. Coming into the primaries, Jeb Bush was their man and he had a huge campaign bank account to do it. What they failed to take into account was the unbridled rage towards President Obama, immigrants and liberals. That’s where Donald Trump and his alt-right populist message knocked one candidate another out of the primaries.
When the smoke cleared, they were left with a nominee that had insulted every minority demographic in America. Trump didn’t only isolate Hispanics and women, he also created a terrifying alliance with Russia, our number one geopolitical foe.
It will take many years for the Republican Party to recover from Donald Trump, if they ever manage to crawl out of the hole they helped him dig. As a former member of the GOP, I am going to enjoy watching it burn.