[Marxism] Class distinctions roil Republican Party

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jan 10 10:46:44 MST 2016

(It would appear that "privileged" white workers of the kind that loved 
Ronald Reagan might be eager to vote for Trump if he ran as an independent.)

NY Times, Jan. 10 2016
For Republicans, Mounting Fears of Lasting Split

The Republican Party is facing a historic split over its fundamental 
principles and identity, as its once powerful establishment grapples 
with an eruption of class tensions, ethnic resentments and mistrust 
among working-class conservatives who are demanding a presidential 
nominee who represents their interests.

At family dinners and New Year’s parties, in conference calls and at 
private lunches, longtime Republicans are expressing a growing fear that 
the coming election could be shattering for the party, or reshape it in 
ways that leave it unrecognizable.

While warring party factions usually reconcile after brutal nomination 
fights, this race feels different, according to interviews with more 
than 50 Republican leaders, activists, donors and voters, from both 
elite circles and the grass roots.

Never have so many voters been attracted to Republican candidates like 
Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who are challenging core 
party beliefs on the economy and national security and new goals like 
winning over Hispanics through immigration reform.

Rank-and-file conservatives, after decades of deferring to party elites, 
are trying to stage what is effectively a people’s coup by selecting a 
standard-bearer who is not the preferred candidate of wealthy donors and 
elected officials.

And many of those traditional power brokers, in turn, are deeply 
uncomfortable and even hostile to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz: Between them, 
the leading candidates do not have the backing of a single senator or 

“I haven’t seen this large of a division in my career,” said Senator 
John McCain, the Arizona Republican first elected to Congress in 1982. 
“You probably have to go back to Ford versus Reagan in 1976. But that 
was only two people.”

The issues animating grass-roots voters — opposition to immigration, 
worries about wages and discomfort with America’s fast-changing 
demographics — are diverging from and at times colliding with the 
Republican establishment’s interests in free trade, lower taxes, less 
regulation and openness to immigration.

The fractures could help a Democrat win the White House if Republicans 
do not ultimately find ways to unite, as one candidate, Gov. Chris 
Christie of New Jersey, warned last week.

The divide was evident at a recent Greenville, S.C., gathering of 
bankers and lawyers, reliable Republicans who shared tea and pastries 
and their growing anxieties about where their party is going. In a 
meeting room near the wooded shore of Furman Lake, the group of mostly 
older white men expressed concern that their party was fracturing over 
free trade, immigration and Wall Street. And they worried that their 
candidates — mainstream conservatives like Jeb Bush — were losing.

“It’s all really hard to believe that decades of Republican ideas are at 
risk,” said Barry Wynn, a prominent Bush donor at the meeting.

The strains on Republicanism are driven home by scenes like the 1,500 
people who waited two hours in 10-degree weather on Tuesday night to see 
Mr. Trump campaign in Claremont, N.H. And the 700 who jammed the student 
center of an Iowa Christian college the same evening to hear Mr. Cruz. 
These crowds were full of lunch-bucket conservatives who expressed 
frustration with the Republican gentry.

“The Republican Party has never done anything for the working man like 
me, even though we’ve voted Republican for years,” said Leo Martin, a 
62-year-old machinist from Newport, N.H., who attended Mr. Trump’s 
Claremont rally. “This election is the first in my life where we can 
change what it means to be a Republican.”

This anger has transformed the quadrennial exercise of picking a 
Republican nominee into a referendum on the future of one of the 
country’s two enduring political parties. Patrick J. Buchanan, a Nixon 
and Reagan adviser who ran for the Republican nomination in 1992 and 
1996 by stressing the economic and cultural concerns of working-class 
Americans, said these voters were roiling the party because they had 
“suffered long enough.”

Mr. Buchanan cited years of job losses and wage stagnation that he 
blamed on free-trade deals and cheap labor from illegal immigrants, as 
well as hardships from foreign wars that have hit families whose 
children enlisted in hopes of better lives.

“The chickens have come home to roost,” Mr. Buchanan said. “Putting the 
party back together again will be very hard after this nomination race. 
I think the party is going to shift against trade and interventionism, 
and become more nationalist and tribal and more about protecting the 

Anger and alienation have been simmering in Republican ranks since the 
end of the George W. Bush administration, at first over policy and then 
more acutely over how the party should respond to the country’s changing 

While party leaders like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina say 
Republicans are in a “demographic death spiral” and will not survive 
unless they start appealing to Hispanics and young people, many voters 
see such statements as a capitulation. They hunger for an unapologetic 
brand of conservatism that would confront rather than acquiesce to the 
political establishment — sentiments that have been amplified by 
conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and commentators like 
Ann Coulter, whose verbal broadsides influence the party’s agenda.

“All the things the voters want have been shoved off to sidelines by 
Republican leaders,” said Laura Ingraham, a talk-show host who was a 
force behind the primary election defeat of Eric Cantor, then the House 
majority leader, in 2014. “And the voters finally have a couple of 
people here who are saying this table has to be turned over.”

The splits within the party would be difficult to heal no matter the 
nominee. If an establishment candidate wins the nomination, the highly 
energized voters backing Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz may revolt; about 
two-thirds of Trump supporters would vote for him as a third-party 
candidate, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll last month — 
a possibility that could help the Democratic nominee. If Mr. Cruz is 
nominated, he will have to win over party leaders while not appearing to 
be selling out to his anti-establishment supporters. A Fox News poll 
released on Friday found that 66 percent of Cruz supporters in Iowa felt 
“betrayed” by politicians in their party.

If party leaders backed Mr. Trump, they would have to conduct campaigns 
in parallel universes, supporting a candidate who has said he wants to 
deport illegal immigrants en masse and temporarily bar Muslims from the 
country, while simultaneously trying to diversify their predominantly 
white male base.

Republican congressional leaders last week asked Gov. Nikki R. Haley of 
South Carolina, the daughter of Indian immigrants, to deliver the 
party’s response to the State of the Union speech this week, and invited 
King Abdullah II of Jordan, perhaps America’s closest ally in the Arab 
world, to address a joint session of Congress.

“I know Republicans who will support Hillary if Trump or Cruz is the 
nominee, no question,” Dick Thornburgh, an attorney general under 
President George Bush and a former Pennsylvania governor, said of 
Hillary Clinton. “Trump, especially, would split the party. But many 
will fall in line, seeing no choice.”

Mr. McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, and Mr. Graham, 
who was a presidential candidate until last month, said they would honor 
the will of the voters and support any eventual nominee. But Mr. Graham 
said the severity and impact of the party split would ultimately depend 
on whether a Republican won the presidency.

“If Trump or Cruz wins the White House, then my side of the party has to 
re-evaluate who we are, what we stand for, and I’d be willing to do 
that,” Mr. Graham said. “But if Trump or Cruz loses the presidency, 
would their supporters re-evaluate their views on immigration and other 
issues that would grow the party? If they do that, we can come back 
together. If they don’t, the party probably splits in a permanent way.”

Other Republicans said they believed that Mr. Cruz, if he won the 
nomination, would be similar to the archconservative Barry Goldwater, 
who was nominated in 1964, and that the party would survive the experience.

The presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, who has written 
biographies of some of the 20th century’s leading Republicans, said a 
nomination of Mr. Trump would represent “a hostile takeover” of the 
party, and make it more difficult for old-guard party leaders to 
suppress the passions of a more hard-core, anti-immigration, angry base.

“The nativists aren’t going away,” Mr. Smith said. “They might, if 
anything, become more feverish.”

Some political leaders, eyeing the Republican split, are sensing 

Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire media executive and former New 
York mayor, was intrigued enough by the prospect of Mr. Trump’s becoming 
the Republican standard-bearer that he commissioned a poll last month 
testing how he would fare against Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, according 
to two sources close to Mr. Bloomberg. But he has often very publicly 
flirted with a run, savored the attention, then announced that he would 
not pursue the candidacy.

Whatever Mr. Bloomberg decides, the election so far has been upended by 
voters who live far from his world and, for the first time in years, 
feel as if their voices are being heard. Dave Conger, 60, a salesman who 
showed up at a Cruz campaign stop last week with a Cruz pin on his 
chest, said he had worked to elect both President George W. Bush and his 
father, but “was told a lot of things and nothing ever happened.”

He added, “This time I’m actually hearing somebody who’s telling me the 
truth; they’re actually going to go in and do something they say they’re 
going to do.”

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