By STEVE ROBERTS
Once upon a time, say, by the 1890's, the Republican Party was the party of Business. Free-market capitalism. Small government ("small" meant that it wasn't collecting taxes from the rich, so it couldn't do much). The original Constitutional "Originalists". "All Men Are Created Equal" -- at least if you were like the Founding Fathers, who wrote that phrase -- white, male, property owners -- "real men!" (Go look up who was allowed to vote in the first Presidential election, if you don't believe me.)
When people speak of the Republican Party “establishment”, it is that ilk of whom most speak. The old-school, financially “conservative”, power-brokers. (Hiya, Mitt! Thanks for being the poster boy.)
However, the power-base began to erode when Teddy Roosevelt, whom the establishment hand-picked to be McKinley’s VP because they thought he was one of them, arrived at the White House. (Thank you, Leon Czolgosz!) Everyone was surprised to find out Teddy was actually a Progressive! Trust Busting and social programs started to become popular. Income taxes by 1913! (Hello, Big Government.) Women actually got to vote by 1920!
After the rich folk and rich-wannabes royally messed up the world economy by 1930, there just wasn’t as much support for them anymore, and though the old-school power-brokers still had some clout at the top, along came another Progressive Roosevelt (our first “socialist” prez) to lead a humbled and disheveled nation back to some semblance of humane order -- much to the bitter distaste of our moneyed friends who had to help pay for the rebuilding. (Does all that sound like some more recent history?) Yes, FDR was the Obama of his time . . . vilified and hated by the wealthy - good thing they didn’t have the well-oiled Fox propaganda machine that exists today, otherwise we still might be recovering from that Depression. (Mitt! Were you part of the movement to replace FDR’s image on the dime with Ronald Reagan’s?) There’s even some documentation that the wealthy even considered a military coup to oust FDR - but that’s a whole other story, right General Butler?
As the popularity of the old-school Republicans waned, (Hey! I like Ike! . . . maybe), their message of good, old fashioned 18th Century values started to be re-interpreted and catch on with the growing fundamentalist and reactionary, single-issue fringe groups.
“God” was permanently added to our Pledge of Allegiance (last and current version in 1954), and on our currency (1956) under Mr. Eisenhower -- we have to combat the God-less Commies, after all . . . somehow . . . the bastards! (Yoo hoo! Senator McCarthy! Don’t you have a job to do?)
The Republican establishment decided they could use some new blood and support for restoring the “Old Order” so they invited the “Christians” to come into the tent. (Get a personally autographed Bible from Amy Semple McPherson!)
After that, like a wad of rolling fly paper, one after another extremist population got attached to the pastiche of the new Republican “Conservatism”. The states-righters. The gun toters. The anti-abortioners. The anti-immigrationists. The anti-taxers. Tea-partiers. Put Christ back in Xmas . . . The Republicans became the Big Tent of greed, anger, fear & loathing.
How do you keep all these angry, seething folks together under the watchful eye of the old-school power brokers? How do we keep their eyes on the prize of the Wealthy getting wealthier, when most of them are soooo unlike us? (Right, Mitt? Right, Dubya?)
The answer is -- you can’t. Thank you, Mr. Trump for pointing that out.
It was all bound to become unbound, at some point. You dole out fear and anger and point at a “common enemy” to keep your coalition together (“It’s all Obama’s fault! Fear him! Hate him! Fear and hate Hillary, while you’re at it!”), but after a while the fear and anger bites the hand that feeds them. (Does that sting a little, Mitt? Here, rub some Goldman-Sachs shares on it. That’ll make it feel better.)
Mr. Trump has tapped into the visceral motivations of the new Republican conservatism. He’s one of them! The Mad Prophet who’s on your TV telling you to stick your head out of your window and yell, “I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” But wait! Isn’t he a very rich, white man?! Yes, but do you think he could join the same country club as the Bushes or Romneys. Nooooooooo. He’s an ill-mannered, shallow, angry, spoiled child, who bursts out with Primal Screams when his diaper gets soiled, or his latest wet-nurse fails to suckle him.
Don’t fear The Donald. He’s a buffoon.
Fear the next guy . . .
Somewhere in this country there’s an intelligent, charming, soul-less, sociopathic ideologue who sees the vast, disorganized fear and anger that Mr. Trump has tapped into (but doesn’t know how to manage and control). And he (or she) has “associates” who are very willing to help him in his quest. (Sorry Mr. Rove, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld -- no need to apply. You’re old and in the way.)
People are already drawing parallels to now and 1930’s Germany. Not unreasonable. The fields are fertile . . . but we don’t have our charismatic catalyst . . . yet.
If I were a real Christian, I might want to look for a “666” tattoo on the scalp of the guy who follows in The Donald’s wake. Chris Christie need not apply.
STEVE ROBERTS IS A COMPUTER PROFESSIONAL, MUSICIAN AND MAN OF THE WORLD.