Only Republican Voters Can Expel Donald Trump
George Will, like Trump, Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond supposedly “tapped into” things. In 1948, Wallace, FDR’s former vice president, ran as a third-party candidate opposing Harry Truman’s re-election. His campaign became a vehicle for, among others, Communists and those opposed to Truman’s anti-Soviet foreign policy. Truman persevered, leaders of organized labor cleansed their movement of Soviet sympathizers, and Truman was re-elected. He won also in spite of South Carolina’s Democratic governor Thurmond siphoning off Democratic votes (and 39 electoral votes) as a Dixiecrat protesting civil-rights commitments in the Democratic party’s platform. Truman won because he kept his party and himself from seeming incoherent and boneless.
In 1950, William F. Buckley, Jr. helped rebuild the post-WWII conservative movement by uniting free market libertarians, social traditionalists (primarily the Christian Right) and anti-communists (anti-collectivists) highly motivated by “Judeo-Christian” principles. In 1958, Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society (JBS) published a book claiming that the sitting president of the United States, Republican Dwight Eisenhower, was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Other Birchers claimed that there were Red Chinese on the Mexican border prepping an invasion, or that the Council on Foreign Relations was actively plotting a U.S.-Soviet merger. These weren’t “dog whistles” or diffuse, partially articulated prejudices. They were empirical claims around which Birchers strategized and fundraised.
As a result, in 1962, Buckley wrote that the JBS is outside of the “mainstream” conservative movement and suggests conservative leaders “excommunicate” the Birch Society stating, “How can the John Birch Society be an effective political instrument while it is led by a man whose views on current affairs are, at so many critical points . . . so far removed from common sense?”
The JBS tried to regain lost influence by inserting themselves into and promoting the Goldwater campaign in 1964 taking over numerous Republican state-level Party posts and essentially the Republican Party. They made Goldwater the Republican Candidate, and he would go on to lose in a landslide.
Many of the Bircher types who worked on the Goldwater campaign went on to set up groups in the 1960s and 1970s becoming key coalition strategists and operatives. They began debating how to take over the Republican Party again, but this time by developing a grassroots movement and thus a large voting bloc of conservatives to become Republican voters.
Segregation and Racism
In 1975, The Bob Jones decision upheld the IRS in denying tax-exempt status for private all-White segregated Christian schools. The IRS sought to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University in 1975 because the school’s regulations forbade interracial dating, but African Americans had been denied admission altogether until 1971.
In 1978, the Carter Administration sends letters to private all-White segregated Christian academies threatening to withdraw their tax-exempt status. This helped to mobilize White Christian evangelicals to offer assistance to national Christian Right organizations to make sure Carter was defeated in the 1980 election by a deluge of Republican voters.
The Moral Majority
In 1979, the solution to finding a voting block is identified as linking political activism with the growing evangelical subculture being networked through televangelism. What emerged was the idea of a “Moral Majority,” which became the name of an organization under the leadership of Reverend Jerry Falwell. Abortion was singled out as a wedge issue that could mobilize a voter base and split the Democratic Party. Later, it was admitted that their plan was to shift public frame away from White evangelical anger at the federal government for threatening to pull tax exempt status from the private all-White segregated Christian academies.
Reagan As Beginning and Culmination
Ronald Reagan runs for President and Robert Billings served as the liaison to the conservative religious community in 1980. He is elected with significant support from conservative Christian evangelicals, and nominates C. Everett Koop as Surgeon General as payback for that religious, conservative, Republican voter support.
Fast forward 10 years, and the first Persian Gulf War heightens apocalyptic millennialism and preparations for impending global battle. Survivalism encompasses both Christian evangelical anticipation of end times and secular fears of economic collapse or a UN-led invasion. The deadly Ruby Ridge and Branch Davidian confrontations reinforce conspiratorial theories of impending government treachery and imminent tyranny. This is when the Armed Militia Movement emerges from the pre-exising Patriot Movement. The bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh in 1995 revealed he was awash in anti-regime conspiracy theories. Fast forward ten more years through another Persian Gulf War along with the advent of the Tea Party and here we are.
The Republican party, like all political parties, has a duty to exclude frauds and egotistical opportunists. This is why primaries are often closed as it lets party members make the choices that define the party and dispense its most precious possession, a presidential nomination. Over the last 60 years, the party has embraced these fringe, extremist groups cynically to win off year elections only to have that “energy” backfire on it during Presidential years which attract a more diverse electorate. If anything is to be done about Donald Trump, it will have to be done by the GOP and its voters.