From Salon, this is exactly what I've been saying for awhile now:
Paul Ryan is angry with Donald Trump, not so much for failing to espouse conservative values, as for exposing America’s dirty little secret — white rage: that deep-seated determination to block black progress in this country. For years, conservative politicians have relied upon the cover of high-minded principles and slogans – “protecting the integrity of the ballot box,” or waging a “war on drugs” — in order to cloak their determination to restrict African Americans’ citizenship rights. The racism fueling Trump’s campaign and his followers, however, is so overt, that it is undoing decades of hard covert work by the GOP.
When Trump didn’t immediately disavow an endorsement from Klansman David Duke; when the GOP front-runner condoned the beatings African Americans endured at his campaign rallies; and when 20 percent of his followers insisted that the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery, was bad policy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan’s carefully stitched plan of “racism with plausible deniability” began to unravel.
Shortly before he died, Reagan’s strategist Lee Atwater explained the game plan of the Southern Strategy in a matter-of-fact clinical policy. “By 1968 you can’t say ‘n***r’ — that hurts you, backfires,” Atwater emphasized. “So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. And you’re getting so abstract now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.” But Donald Trump doesn’t do abstract and that is what has sent the GOP into a tizzy.
Nixon and Reagan mastered this by adapting to the new racial terrain carved out by the Civil Rights Movement. As Nixon aide John Ehrlichman explained to Harper’s Dan Baum in 1994, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be against black[s], but by getting the public to associate . . . blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing” the drug “we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” ...
The trick to pulling this off was subtlety; to mask overt racism with sincere concern for community safety. Nixon did it with “law and order,” Reagan with “the war on drugs.” But Trump’s jugular racism has no subtlety. ...
Trump’s take-no-prisoner style exposes in ways that no legitimate Republican front-running presidential candidate has in decades the racial lies behind the policies. That’s the problem the GOP really has with him.
The Republicans’ current crusade to “protect the ballot box” is a case in point...
The column goes on to talk about Republican efforts at voter suppression, which I've talked about before. There's also more about the "war on drugs" being racially motivated, which I haven't addressed much in the past. (Whether the point was racism or the point politics, using racism, might be a distinction that isn't hugely important.)
In their notorious "Southern strategy," Republican politicians discovered that racism works - and not just in the South. As Lee Atwater pointed out, though, they couldn't be too blatant about it. Blatant might well have worked in the South - certainly with some of the people that they were attracting - but it would have lost them some voters, too.
But subtle racism works very well, even on people who don't think that they're racist - or don't like to be considered racist, at least. It doesn't have to be very subtle. But even in the Reagan years, as Lee Atwater candidly pointed out, "nigger, nigger, nigger" didn't work as well as it used to. And as time went on, as America progressed, racism still worked, but you needed even more subtlety.
Or that was the thinking before Donald Trump came along, at least.
Of course, even Donald Trump is subtle compared to "nigger, nigger, nigger" or "wetback." And "protect the ballot box" isn't overtly racist. That's the effect, and every Republican politician knows that's the effect. That's why they push a solution to a nonexistent problem. But they rarely admit it.
The Republican Party is long past just wooing racists, too. They wooed Christian fundamentalists for the same reason - for political power. (Of course, the religious right got its start because of racism. That was the whole point, at the beginning.) And racists tend to be xenophobes and religious bigots, as well. The GOP's anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim hysteria is just part of the package.
This has been working for them for decades, but Republican politicians - who never worried about the effect this political tactic would have on America - are starting to worry that it won't work as well going forward. And they're worried that Donald Trump, win or lose, is going to be the straw that broke the camel's back.
Donald Trump doesn't do subtle very well. Plus, he's incredibly, blatantly sexist. Now, sexism has been a part of today's Republican Party, too, of course. Racists have many bad qualities, and bigots don't usually restrict their bigotry much.
But their sexism has usually been aimed at single women - sluts, as Rush Limbaugh calls them - allowing the GOP to maintain the support of married women (who can be racists and xenophobes, themselves, of course).
But Donald Trump has been so blatantly sexist that he's losing women in general. Apparently, 70% of women have an unfavorable view of him, and that includes people Republicans need to win. (In other polls mentioned at that link, 70% of married women have an unfavorable view of Trump, and 66% of white women.)
True, he's still beating Hillary Clinton slightly (by 3%) among married women (while losing by 52% among unmarried women), but then Clinton has high unfavorability numbers, too. And that's not much for a demographic Republicans need.
How much longer can the Republican Party survive, no matter how successful they are at voter suppression and gerrymandering, as the party of white men - actually, as the party of old, straight, Christian white men. Keep in mind that they won't get all of them, either. (Except for the "Christian" part, that describes me pretty well. And these days, I wouldn't vote Republican if my life depended on it.)
Of course, Donald Trump can still win, especially if progressives are idiotic enough not to turn out for Hillary Clinton. Besides, there's a lot of misogyny in America, and that might work on men who wouldn't go for the racism. Who knows? (There's a lot of misogyny in the atheist community, I'm sorry to say. Trump might well appeal to those people because of his sexism.)
And if the Republicans win, they'll pack the Supreme Court with more Antonin Scalias. They'll push voter suppression like there's no tomorrow (and there won't be, for the Republican Party, if they don't). They'll start wars to ramp up fear and hatred. Donald Trump proposes turning America into an isolationist police state. By doing that, he's likely to make more Republicans, just because of the severe problems that will cause us.
But other Republican politicians worry about him for good reason. They had a good thing going with their racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia, as long as they didn't overdo it. Pushing anger and fear works, at least in the short-term. But Donald Trump is the result of all that. (Ted Cruz, too.)
Where does it end? If it doesn't end this year, I fear for my country.
PS. My thanks to Jim Harris for the link.