will 2016 bring about the gop's extinction event? donald trump's catastrophic impact on the republican party

by Sabrina Vourvoulias, AL DÍA News Media

Full disclosure: I'm a lifelong Democrat who rarely votes straight-ticket and who has voted for at least one non-Democrat in a presidential election.

There are plenty of Americans I respect and admire who simply don't share my political worldview: my father was a Republican; my husband is an Independent; one of my favorite bosses was a Libertarian; my friends and colleagues run the gamut from right to left.

Having grown up where there was no real choice between political parties (Guatemala, during its decades of authoritarian military rule), I am all about doing what I can to ensure that there are as many decent, viable political choices as possible for the American voter.

So, believe me when I tell you that I feel no glee in contemplating the extinction of the Republican party. It is, after all, the party founded by anti-slavery activists, the party that stood in opposition to the nativist Know Nothings of the 19th century.

Still, given the current GOP's inability (unwillingness?) to shield itself from Donald Trump's meteor of destructive demagoguery, all the elements have been set in place for a dramatic crash and burn.

Donald Trump graphic by DonkeyHotey (www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/)

Here's the Wall Street Journal's assessment of the GOP political landscape in early 2015, before all of the Republican candidates had declared:

"The continuing problem for the Republican Party is the country’s changing demographics. GOP congressional candidates won 60% of white voters in 2010 and 2014, producing landslide victories. The calculation works differently in presidential elections, however, when turnout is higher, particularly among minorities. In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won 59% of white voters, the highest percentage of any Republican challenging an incumbent president in the history of exit polling. He won every significant white subgroup—men and women; young and old; Protestants and Catholics—often by overwhelming margins. Yet Mr. Romney still lost the election by five million votes. Barack Obama won because he achieved breathtaking majorities among every other racial group. The president won 93% of African-Americans and more than 70% of Hispanics and Asians. As a result, the first African-American president won re-election with only four out of 10 white voters. Unfortunately for Republicans, the math is only going to get worse. Groups that form the core of GOP support—older whites, blue-collar whites, married people and rural residents—are declining as a proportion of the electorate. Groups that lean Democratic—minorities, young people and single women—are growing." (WSJ, March 4, 2015)

Cue Trump, on collision course ....

Donald Trump graphic by DonkeyHotey (www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/)

Neither Democrats nor Republicans understood how dangerous Trump's first execrable salvos against Mexican immigrants (uttered during the announcement of his candidacy in June) really were. Both parties let the racist commentary slide (showing just how grievously they underestimate Latino political engagement) and treated the candidate mouthing them as a joke instead of a threat.

The weak response to Trump's bigotry was a politically cunning (if morally torpid) move on the Democrats' part, but the Republicans' long silence displayed not only moral turpitude but wholesale stupidity.

This year, when the Republican candidate pool included two Latinos, the son of Indian immigrants, an African American, and a woman (arrayed in counterpoint to an all-white Democratic slate) should have been a year of significant expansion to refresh the party's naturally diminishing base. Instead, the GOP has found itself unable to extricate from Trump's more and more widely expressed prejudices and foul rhetoric, which has seriously (perhaps permanently) damaged the party's chances to reach precisely the electorates with which it had hoped to make inroads.

Meanwhile, Trump's mostly white supporters have taken Trump's extremist salvos to heart: urinating on and beating a homeless Mexican immigrant man so badly he had to be hospitalized; spitting on Latinos at his rallies; mobbing and kicking a man wearing a "Black Lives Matter" t-shirt at another Trump rally.

And every time this happens, the Republican party is implicated by association, and made complicit by its silence.

Trump's attacks on Latinos & Immigrants

Mexican immigrants (June 2015):

"When Mexico sends its people, they’re [...] sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."

... and again in July:

"The worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government.”

Latin American and Middle Eastern immigrants (June 2015):

"They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast. "

All immigrants (Sept. 2015):

"We are a dumping ground for the rest of the world."

About Jeb Bush's wife (who is an American citizen from Mexico), in a July tweet he later deleted:

"#JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife."

Hearing that two of his supporters beat a homeless Mexican man with an iron pipe until he was senseless, then urinated on him, saying "Donald Trump was right" (Aug. 2015):

"I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country, they want this country to be great again."

Repealing 14th Amendment citizenship for those born on U.S. soil to undocumented parents (policy paper on his website):

“End birthright citizenship [...] 'no sane country' would give automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.”

Reinstating "Operation Wetback," which is described by historians as having subjected deportees to inhumane treatment (Nov. 2015):

"Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower. Good president. Great president. People liked him. I liked him. I Like Ike, right? The expression, 'I like Ike.' Moved 1.5 million illegal immigrants out of this country. Moved them just beyond the border, they came back. Moved them again beyond the border, they came back. Didn't like it. Moved 'em waaaay south, they never came back. Dwight Eisenhower. You don't get nicer, you don't get friendlier. They moved 1.5 million people out. We have no choice. We. Have. No. Choice."

He's impugned Muslims

Upon hearing President Obama say we'll accept 10,000 Syrian refugees:

"When the Syrian refugees are going to start pouring into this country, we don’t know if they’re ISIS, we don’t know if it’s a Trojan horse. And I definitely want a database and other checks and balances. We want to go with watch lists. We want to go with databases. And we have no choice. We have no idea who’s being sent in here. This could be the — it’s probably not, but it could be the great Trojan horse of all time, where they come in."

On warrantless searches and surveillance of mosques in the U.S. (Nov. 2015):

"We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule."

Repeating discredited claims that U.S. Muslims celebrated 9/11 (Nov. 2015):

"There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something."

He's smeared African americans

On the "criminality" of Blacks and Latinos (June 2015):

"Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics-a tough subject-must be discussed."

On hearing that his supporters punched and kicked a man wearing a "Black Lives Matter" t-shirt who was allegedly heckling him at one of his rallies (Nov. 2015):

"I don't know. Rough up? Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing. I have lot of fans and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy, who was a troublemaker who was looking to make trouble."

Stoking racist fears about crime with false stats from a non-existent agency, the "Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco" (Nov. 2015):

(The real stats, compiled by the FBI, are: Blacks killed by whites - 8%; whites killed by whites - 82%; whites killed by Blacks - 15%.)

... antagonized Women

On journalist Megyn Kelly (Aug. 2015):

"She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."

On presidential candidate Carly Fiorina (Sept. 2015):

"Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?"

... offended powS

On Sen. John McCain (July 2015):

"He's not a war hero [...] I like people that weren't captured, OK?"

... insulted asians

In August, Trump used broken English to impersonate Asians negotiating a deal:

"When these people walk into the room, they don't say, 'Oh hello, how's the weather? It's so beautiful outside [...] They say, 'We want deal!'"

... AND mocked the disabled

And most recently, Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski, a reporter with arthrogryposis (a congenital joint condition), at a rally by doing an unconscionable "impression" of him:

The asteroid or comet that crashed into Earth 65 million years ago which we commonly credit with spelling the end for dinosaurs didn't in itself cause the "extinction event." That was caused by the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions it triggered. Ecosystems seriously disrupted by the catastrophic impact of an asteroid — or of a demagogue like Trump — take a very long time to recover, and in the process much of what seemed fierce, formidable and indestructible in life is lost, and turned to inert fossil.

Imperfect analogy? I don't think so. I think it fits to a T.

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All uncredited images on this slate are from Pixabay and Thinkstock.

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