Republicans who want to sideline Donald Trump may think that all of the GOP’s problems can be solved by his defeat. But Trump did not cause the great GOP divide, he’s merely exploiting it. At its core, the alienation of the party’s elite from a huge portion of its base stems from a deep sense of betrayal these voters feel at the hands of the Republican politicians they sent to Washington.
All too often these GOP incumbents, just like their Democratic colleagues, would cash in on their public service to make fortunes as lobbyists, doing the bidding of big business and even of foreign interests, pushing global trade deals that dismantled tens of thousands of factories and idled millions. At the same time, this disaffected base watched as the national government bailed out the banks, squandered the military, abused veterans, built up China, and ran up the national debt in the process.
So, just what portion of their oath of office did they keep?
(There is something similar at work between the Sanders insurgency and the professional Democrats, but not nearly as combustible.)
Long before Trump’s arrival on the scene, it was conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage, the idealogical godfather of “Trumpism,” who galvanized this insurgency. Savage gave it a voice and a powerful narrative, one that proved extremely helpful to those, like iconoclastic Senator Ted Cruz, who rose to prominence taking on the very same GOP beltway insiders that Donald Trump is now making so nervous.
Years before Trump, Savage had already redefined the nature of the American political landscape when he blew up the Republican Party establishment’s hold on its working class base. Trump can come or go, but this insurgency has a depth and breadth that can’t be ignored.
I have been a longtime listener to Savage because I think that, as a journalist, you risk being blindsided if you ignore someone to whom millions of your fellow Americans are tuning in. I saw the rise of Trump coming several months ago precisely because I know how deep the support runs in so much of America for Savage’s nativist mantra, that the very survival of the nation is threatened by the erosion of our “borders, language, and culture.”
Between American multinationals, who do everything and anything to avoid taxes, and American politicians, who so often trade on their office to amass vast fortunes, regular working class Americans feel abandoned. For decades, as businesses have increasingly exploited undocumented immigrants for cheap labor or moved operations out of the country entirely, these voters have become resentful, watching their wages stagnate and full-time jobs with benefits become scarcer by the day.