Why Trump’s tape could destroy the GOP

tags: election 2016, GOP, Trump

Heather Cox Richardson is a professor of history at Boston College and the author of "To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party."

... For a generation, the Republican party has been held together by a simple story that activists laid out in the 1950s. Coming out of World War II, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Republican Party backed government policies that promoted equality of opportunity—projects such as education, infrastructure, government regulation, and social welfare. These policies were both effective and enormously popular. But wealthy men loathed government regulation and the taxes that an active government required. Calling themselves conservatives, they started a movement to undermine the idea that promoting equality of opportunity was the proper role for the American government.

They had a problem: Most Americans liked the government programs. So to push their agenda, movement conservatives rejected fact-based evidence and instead advanced a very simple narrative: hard-working white American men were under siege by minorities, women, organized workers, and “special interests” who wanted government handouts. Government policies that promoted equal opportunity were the very opposite of fair. They redistributed wealth from hard-working white men to lazy minorities.

Central to the portrayal of the conservative American individualist was the idea of his morality. The ideal conservative man worked hard, wanted (and needed) nothing from the government, and loved and protected his wife and children. This paternalistic image offered followers a return to an idealized past, assuring the people who were falling behind in the modern economy that there was a simple cause for their distress. If only the government could be purged from the influence of black people, minorities, lazy workers, and unfeminine women who demanded that the government help them get equal access to schools and jobs, good American men could get back to their traditional role: taking care of their children and their loving, homemaking wives. ...

But Trump’s tape about forcing himself on women undercuts this narrative. It affronts the men who could back his attacks on people of color, minorities, and organized workers—in part because they justified this stance as necessary in order to safeguard their wives and daughters. ...

Read entire article at Quartz

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