Donald and the Angry Right
Ours is a society in transition. From the removal of the Confederate Flag from state capitol grounds all over the south, to recent Supreme Court rulings on the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality, “the times they are a changing”. Said change is material, irresistible and enduring. And as with any such change there are those who are greatly displeased.
One of the biggest hell raisers is real estate mogul, TV star and GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump. His statements linking undocumented Mexican immigrants to drugs, crime and rape are disheartening to say the least. Despite paying a heavy price in lost endorsements and business deals, Trump has doubled, even tripled down on his comments.
Trump has been condemned by many, including Republican luminaries like Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Chris Christy and John McCain. In addition, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Republican colleagues in the state legislature were stellar in their response to the Charleston Massacre and their role in removing the Confederate Flag from the state house grounds.
But while he may not speak for the Republican Party, he certainly speaks to GOP primary voters, the Tea Party and religious conservatives, as conceded on July 7, 2015, by no less than the Wall Street Journal. As a general rule, these voters dislike immigrants, hate the ACA and gay rights, love the Confederate flag and distrust the federal government.
Consequently, Trump currently leads the field among GOP primary voters. And his pronouncements while crude are consistent with GOP policy positions both past and present. See “Trumps Mexico Remarks Reflect Ugly GOP Tradition” by Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.
This is the relevance of the Trump candidacy as absurd as it sometimes is. Regardless as to how many denounce him, no matter how destructive are his comments, Donald Trump is saying exactly what the hard right wants him to say just the way they want him to say it. They thirst for his brand of “telling it like it is” like a lost caravan thirst for water. The more outrageous, hostile and inane are his comments, the more they like it and him.
And be not mistaken. While this support is couched in terms of defending religious freedoms, preserving the American way of life and/or protecting our democracy from the rushing tide of socialism and government tyranny, the anger on the right is colored by anxiety, fear, resentment and a frustration that borders on desperation.
It is the constant worry that the country is being invaded and occupied by intruders that neither looks nor speaks like them. It is the nagging dread of being ignored, marginalized and victimized, of being relegated to second class citizenship in their own country.
It is the sour belief that the undeserved i.e., blacks, immigrants, gays and non-Christians are taking what rightfully belongs to them, the true Americans. And worse it is the acknowledgement, the growing frustration that the tide of history and demographics are decidedly against them; that their world and the values they hold dear are disappearing never to return.
The browning of America and the sweep of history has changed the American quilt in ways that distresses the hard right. The cultural issues which they so recently owned are no longer theirs. Their antipathy towards the LGBT community and gay marriage is not shared by the young, organized religion is not the cultural force it once was and elections are unsure at best. The Supreme Court’s decisions on Obamacare and same-sex marriage, the failure to outlaw abortion, the relegation of the Confederate flag to dusty museums and the election of a “Kenyan/socialist/Muslim” President not once but twice have disappointed and embittered them to no end.
In response, some conservatives have advocated defiance if not open rebellion. Regarding same-sex marriage, Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee promised not to acquiesce to an imperial court and urged others to resist what he calls judicial tyranny. Yet another GOP Presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas reasons the same.
Additionally, some county clerks have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the Supreme Court decision be damned. And Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has pledged to disobey an order from the Oklahoma Supreme Court to remove from the capital grounds a statute bearing the 10 Commandments. It is her position that the ruling is “impermissible and deeply disturbing.” www.msnbc.com/msnbc/despite-court-ruling-gov-mary-fallin-wont-remove-10-comm.
Defiance of the law is an odd position to take given the right’s reliance on public morals, law and order and the oft cited admonition that ours is a nation of laws. At least this is what they argue when it comes to illegal immigration.
Fortunately, a little of Trump goes a long way. He will never hold the oval office and his campaign will burn itself out, sooner rather than later.
But it would be a mistake to ignore Trump and what he represents. His candidacy bespeaks something fundamental about our society. The anger on the right is a force that will figure prominently in the Presidential election and long thereafter.
In conclusion, fear is the oldest tool of power. And fanning the flames of fear and social outrage encourages the type of violence exhibited in Ferguson, Baltimore and Charleston. The real danger is not that the anger on the right exists. It is instead that there are those like Donald Trump who are all too willing to exploit it.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum