For the past several months, the nation has witnessed Donald Trump‘s evolution from boisterous real estate mogul to the Republican Party’s presidential front-runner.
Despite what many would refer to as his copious gaffes, 3 in 4 Republican voters now expect him to be nominated in July. But Trump’s populist appeal has resulted in a Republican backlash against him. Two weeks ago, several establishment Republicans announced that they would pour millions of dollars into a negative ad campaign to discredit his ability to be a formidable rival for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November.
His success has even caused 2012’s nominee, Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, to join the assault. In a recent speech he delivered, Romney referred to him as a “phony” and a “fraud.” Adding, “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.”
As a result of Trump’s growing momentum, during the next several weeks you are going to witness an increasing GOP blitz being waged against him. But why the civil war? NewsOne interviewed several people, including political analysts and everyday average Americans to get their perspectives.
Many observers have said that Trump’s popularity is the result of extremism within the Republican Party. In a February 25th Washington Post article titled, “Trump is the GOP’s Frankenstein monster,” columnist Robert Kagan refers to him as “The party’s creation, its Frankenstein’s monster, brought to life by the party, fed by the party and now made strong enough to destroy its maker. . .What did Trump do but pick up where they left off, tapping the well-primed gusher of popular anger, xenophobia and, yes, bigotry that the party had already unleashed?“
Further, Washington Post writer Dan Balz said, “Trump and so-called Trumpism represent an amalgam of long-festering economic, cultural and racial dissatisfaction among a swath of left-out Americans who do not fit easily into the ideological pigeonholes of red and blue, right and left.“
Rutgers University Political Science Professor Dr. Elizabeth Hull said to NewsOne that GOP hostility towards its frontrunner stems from him pulling the mask off the party and his constant boastings about not being funded by Super PACs or big donors, unlike his rivals:
“The Republican Party fears Trump for two reasons: One, his bigotry and bald-faced racism expose the Party for what it’s become ever since adopting its Southern Strategy in 1968; since then, it has demonized every group other than its own right-of-center White constituency; and Two, Trump can’t be controlled by the corporate interests that have successfully pulled the strings on virtually every other GOP office-holder.“
The “Southern Strategy” was a plan formulated by Republicans in the 1960s that appealed to White Southerners’ hatred of Blacks to gain support for their party’s candidates. It was used by presidential candidates Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater during the 1964 election. And used again by Nixon during the 1968 campaign.
The strategy helped to convert many Southern Democratic Whites to the Republican Party and would eventually help to elect Nixon as president.
Trump’s recent demonizing of Mexicans and Muslims has garnered him tremendous support from many Southern and rural Whites, and has reminded many observers of the “Southern Strategy.” But is this is an accurate assessment?
Hull’s colleague at Howard University, Political Science Professor Wilmer Leon, further elaborated her point concerning racism in the party:
“I think the GOP fears Trump because he’s marketing their message better than they are. Where they have tried to use veiled coded language, he’s just coming right out off the cuff and putting their bigotry and racism right in front.”
Dr. Leon also encourages people to keep in mind the class and racial make-up of Trump’s base: “He is appealing to primarily low income, working class, under-educated White males. They were convinced that their Whiteness would function as privilege for them. And as wages have remained stagnate, as the home mortgage crisis hits and the economy has not recovered nearly as quickly and to the degree that they were convinced that it would, they’re aware that their Whiteness now is of no benefit.”
He also attributed Trump’s success to his use of “The Politics of Resentment” that the late Dr. Ron Walters used to speak about: “Trump is blaming Hispanics and to a third degree, other people of color. And those disaffected White folks are buying into it.. And so that’s the same group of people that the Tea Party played to.” Leon feels the GOP recognizes that these factors can hurt them in November.
Dr. Leon, however, isn’t the only one who feels that race is a major factor in all of this. As we all know, Republicans have struggled for several years in their outreach to non-Whites, otherwise known as “minorities.”
Michael Imhotep, host of the Detroit-based radio program “The African History Network,” gave his take on this:
“The GOP is afraid of Donald Trump because he will alienate many non-White voters who the GOP desperately needs to grow and stay relevant as White Americans become a minority population and have a negative birth rate. They will need to get about 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in the General Election to win the White House. And as vile and bigoted as Donald Trump’s comments are, he is assuring the GOP that there will be an unprecedented amount of Hispanics voting for Democrats in the Presidential election cycle.”
While many people keep blaming them for Trump’s rise, perhaps Republicans aren’t solely responsible. New Jersey Republican voter, 59-year-old Don Edwards, cites the overall voter frustration towards both major parties as the cause of Trump’s rise as a popular candidate: “They’re afraid of him because he has tapped into an anger that is directed not only at Democrats, but politicians in general. People are tired of politicians who do nothing, who fold instead of standing up for what they promised their voters they would do. Now their – the politicians – jobs are on the line.”
Since announcing his candidacy in June, Trump for the most part has refrained from holding his tongue. He has certainly not been known for diplomacy over these past several months. And it’s for this reason that Democratic Strategist Roy Paul says the GOP leadership fears that The Donald’s loose mouth might cost them the election. “Donald Trump scares the GOP because, quite frankly, well, he’s a scary guy,” he said. “His unpredictable insults don’t help either, but the unfortunate reality, however, is there is absolutely nothing they can do to stop his momentum.”
Thirty-seven-year-old Social Worker Jered Croom from Knoxville, TN likened – as have a few others – the real estate mogul’s campaign to late segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace’s presidential bid: “People have come to liken Donald Trump’s campaign to the rise of the Nazis. I would say it’s more aligned with George Wallace of Alabama. He too tapped into a very dark part of the American electorate. Keep in mind that it was Douglas who said, ‘I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.’ Is this the America that Trump opines we should return to?”
Whether The Donald can win in November or not can be debated. But what definitely can’t be disputed is that he’s certainly caught and kept the public’s attention.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO SOURCE: Inform