For all the attention, they get in the media, racist rednecks, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists are part of a shrinking minority. The Republican Party figured this out long ago. Unfortunately for the GOP, their current Golden Boy, Donald Trump, has not. Currently, Trump’s poll numbers are over twice that of his closest competitor, the relatively moderate Jeb Bush (whose wife, Columba, is from Mexico). Trump’s rallies are attracting tens of thousands of people, with most cut from the same racist cloth. He’s been officially endorsed by white supremacist organizations.

This situation has put the Republican Party in an awkward position. On one hand, they cannot openly attack one of their own when the candidate in question is enjoying such popularity. On the other hand, if the GOP doesn’t renounce Trump and distance itself from him, his rhetoric and antics are likely to destroy the organization. So, at the moment, the Republican Party is frozen like the proverbial deer in the headlights. Despite the fact that Trump’s approval ratings among official GOP members is well under 50%, they are neither speaking out against his racism nor distancing themselves. Instead, the GOP is allowing extremist Trump to hijack their agenda. History has shown us repeatedly that when this happens in a political organization, that organization ultimately implodes.

There is a principle in common law: “Qui tacet consentit,” meaning “Silence implies consent (or approval).” Essentially, by allowing front-runner Trump to set the tone, the GOP is tacitly agreeing to his racist, xenophobic agenda. While this is attracting supporters for the time being, it is doomed to failure in a nation as culturally and ethnically diverse as the US. Trump has already lost the Latino vote, without which a Presidential victory is impossible. He is quickly alienating African-Americans as well.

Likewise, those who cannot remember or learn from history are doomed to repeat it. About 170 years ago, Southern slave owners began taking control of the Democratic Party. That takeover resulted in the bloodiest war in US history. In 1964, Barry Goldwater’s extreme views resulted in Lyndon Johnson’s overwhelming victory (Goldwater wound up carrying only six states – five of which were in the Deep South). More recently, Romney’s defeat in 2012 was attributable in large part to his willingness to embrace extremist Tea Party positions.

The idea of a Trump Presidency is terrifying, but thankfully, very unlikely. Currently, most American voters are not paying that much attention to the races. That will change significantly after the primaries – so even if Trump somehow does manage to capture the GOP nomination, his chances of winning the White House are slim to none. Regardless of how it all plays out, however, Trump is doing some serious damage to the Republican Party.

Watching “The Donald” take down the GOP from the inside should be entertaining, to say the least.

SHARE
K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues.