When conservative Republicans speak out against white nationalism and white supremacy in their own party, you know we’re all in trouble. And it’s all hands on deck. Are we witnessing the end of the Republican Party, the folks who gave us Donald Trump and Nazis in the West Wing?
When former President George W. Bush sounds the alarm on Trumpism, you know what’s up, and it can’t be good. Bush, speaking in New York on Thursday, condemned white supremacy and said “bigotry seems emboldened.”
“Our identity as a nation, unlike other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. … This means that people from every race, religion, ethnicity can be full and equally American,” the former president said at the George W. Bush Institute. “It means that bigotry and white supremacy, in any form, is blasphemy against the American creed.”
Bush, who did not mention Trump by name, criticized the “governing class” and urged America to “step up” and strengthen American democracy. “We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” Bush said, adding the Russian government has turned Americans against each other. “Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions, forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.”
The same day, former President Barack Obama blasted the divisive politics in the nation at a campaign event in Newark. “What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before, that dates back centuries,” Obama told a crowd. “Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back,” he added. “It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century.”
The 43rd and 44th presidents’ remarks came as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had harsh words for Trump and white nationalism while receiving the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal in Philadelphia:
To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.
All of this comes as some Republicans wonder if their party is dead, and some GOP lawmakers decide to retire and spend more time with their family rather than further participate in this shit show they have enabled for so long. Well, it is time to let the Republican Party die in all its Klannishness. Because it’s either them or the rest of us, and we ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Republicans knew Trump isn’t right—as we all knew—and yet those who did not support him did not do nearly enough to stop his train from leaving the station. This is all about Trump, and yet it is so much more than Trump. The GOP was Trump’s supplier, they were his pusher. Republicans embraced him in his Tea Party racism and Birther craziness because he helped galvanize the base. Then he ran for the White House and won. The respectable racists who engaged in the civility of race card politics and genteel dog whistles suddenly found themselves out of a job.
Trump had no use for code words in appealing to white racism. Rather, he went for the glory and embraced real, actual and live white supremacists and hate groups. Klan, Secesh and Nazis supported his candidacy, and he reciprocated by allowing them in the White House and calling them “very fine people” when they chanted “blood and soil,” “Jews will not replace us,” and “Russia is our friend” at the deadly Nazi rally in Charlottesville.
Since the 1960s, the modern conservative movement was marked by angry white folks, opposition to civil rights and hating on Black people. The Southern Strategy was perfected under Nixon, then in the Reagan years, and now Trump has sealed the deal.
It is a white extremist proposition under Trump, as those who once lurked in the shadows and swamps and under rocks, and otherwise lived on the political fringe have now been blessed and mainstreamed as the GOP leadership. They have arrived. Wealthy racists are funding the white nationalist movement. White supremacist donor and Breitbart bankroller Robert Mercer, a major Trump supporter, is paying Steve Bannon to blow up the Republican Party and elect nut jobs such as Alabama GOP Senatorial candidate Roy Moore, who has taken Nazi money and said Rep. Keith Ellison should not be in Congress because he is a Muslim. And Trump wants to stack the federal bench with Christian Taliban extremists and cheerleaders for Jim Crow voter suppression.
Trump’s disrespect for kneeling Black football players such as Colin Kaepernick–the protesting outcast NFL player the president called a “son of a bitch”–and journalists such as ESPN’s Jemele Hill, whose firing he advocated, are raw meat he throws to the “ride or die” base of disaffected white voters.
His indifference to the suffering of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico reassures his supporters that white people come first, and let the dark people have paper towels. His complete destruction of the Obama legacy is a signal to the white man that America is great once again. And when he told the widow of fallen service member Sgt. La David Johnson “he knew what he signed up for”–and criticized Rep. Frederica Wilson for calling him out on it — Trump reminded Black people of the days when Black soldiers’ lives didn’t matter. He forced us to recollect when they had to give up their seats on the train to Nazi POWs, only to return home to be lynched while in uniform. Because white supremacy. And the good ol’ days.
The Republican Party that Trump leads is a toxic cauldron of racism, pathological masculinity, greed, organized crime, incompetence and mental instability. It is a hate group, an organization of thieves and blockers of Black votes, fake patriots and foreign agents, gun runners and racial terrorists. It is a rabid dog that must be put out of its misery if America is ever to have nice things again.
The GOP brings out the worst in the nation, and we won’t get any sleep until they go. In fact, they’ll get us killed. But expect them to try to repeal Obamacare and pass that damn tax cut until their dying days.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove.