Monday, October 10, 2016

Nature Hates a Vacuum

Donald Trump's candidacy gave people on the right wing permission to say things they were sometimes hesitant to express because they were clearly expressions of racism and bigotry. Republicans enabled Trump and his supporters by labeling common decency, and even truth, "political correctness."

As the campaign continued into the election year, nationalists, white supremacists, and other previously fringe elements of the Republican Party -- many of whom had in the past not voted -- emerged as a vocal block of support for Trump. These were the people Trump was speaking of when he said he could "shoot someone on 5th Ave" and not lose any voters. They are the people about whom Hillary Clinton said, "...to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables."

These are the same people who are now lashing out in the most virulent, hateful posts on social media after the release of the tapes of Trump's bragging about groping women. The fallout and cascade of Republican defections from Trump have these people, who felt their world view had been validated by Trump's nomination and campaign, furious. Cued by Trump and his campaign staff, they are rehashing all the unfounded allegations, muck, and conspiracy theories that have followed the Clintons during their entire political career. A presidential campaign that was already nasty, has become truly disgusting.

Trump apologized for what he said, claimed it was "just locker room talk," called it a "distraction," said Bill Clinton had done far worse, and vowed to stay in the race. He ended by saying, "See you at the debate on Sunday." We did see him at the debate. He was everything we could've expected, and worse -- what a way to end a Sunday. I'll have more to say about this in a separate post.
What concerns me now is what happens to the "deplorables" when Trump is roundly defeated in the General Election. Will they sink quietly into the swamp from which they arose, will they organize and become a significant faction of the Republican Party, or form a neofascist Nationalist Party, or will they germinate to a dangerous domestic terrorist cell determined to create the kind of chaos from which a new "strong man" might emerge to lead them to power?

As Donald Trump vows retaliation against lawmakers who withdraw their support from his campaign, senior Republican party leaders privately acknowledged that they now fear losing control of both houses of Congress. Many left-leaning Americans might welcome the demise of the Republican Party, but be careful what you wish for. Nature hates a vacuum -- witness the Middle East.

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