Sociologist: The Republican Party’s civil war actually began decades ago

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tags: election 2016, GOP



Josh Pacewicz is assistant professor of sociology and urban studies at Brown University. He is the author of “Partisans and Partners: The Politics of the Post-Keynesian Society,” which will be published in October.

Donald Trump’s candidacy has divided the GOP, with a growing number of establishment Republicans refusing to go along for the ride.

How did this happen? Nearly everyone is trying to figure that out, with prominent explanations focused on the racial animuseconomic anxieties and cultural alienation motivating Trump’s core supporters.

But a full accounting of Trump’s rise needs historical context. And it was a long-brewing conflict between establishment Republicans and party activists — eventually won by the activists — that laid the groundwork for the current foment within the GOP.

I became aware of this development in 2006, when I was doing elections research in several Rust Belt cities, the kinds of places Trump has identified as left behind by the American economy. Despite having won two presidential contests in a row, local Republicans were engaged in a war with themselves, a fight that was dividing members of the business community from a group of insurgent activists.




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