It’s ironic that race was the issue that created the Republican Party and that race could very well be the issue that destroys it.
The G.O.P. was founded to fight slavery, and through most of its history it had a decent record on civil rights. A greater percentage of congressional Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats.
.. But the Republican Party has changed since 2005. It has become the vehicle for white identity politics.
.. Recent surveys suggest that roughly 47 percent of Republicans are what you might call conservative universalists and maybe 40 percent are what you might call conservative white identitarians. White universalists believe in conservative principles and think they apply to all people and their white identity is not particularly salient to them. White identitarians are conservative, but their white identity is quite important to them, sometimes even more important than their conservatism.
.. These white identitarians have taken the multicultural worldview taught in schools, universities and the culture and, rightly or wrongly, have applied it to themselves. As Marxism saw history through the lens of class conflict, multiculturalism sees history through the lens of racial conflict and group oppression.
.. 48 percent of Republicans believe there is “a lot of discrimination” against Christians in America and about 43 percent believe there is a lot of discrimination against whites.
.. roughly as many Republicans believe Muslims, immigrants and trans people face a lot of discrimination as believe whites and Christians do.
.. First, identity politics on the right is at least as corrosive as identity politics on the left, probably more so. If you reduce the complex array of identities that make up a human being into one crude ethno-political category, you’re going to do violence to yourself and everything around you.
.. Second, it is wrong to try to make a parallel between Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter. To pretend that these tendencies are somehow comparable is to ignore American history and current realities.
Third, white identity politics as it plays out in the political arena is completely noxious. Donald Trump is the maestro here.
- He established his political identity through birtherism,
- he won the Republican nomination on the Muslim ban,
- he campaigned on the Mexican wall,
- he governed by being neutral on Charlottesville and pardoning the racialist Joe Arpaio.
.. white resentment is bound to define Republicanism more and more in the months ahead. It’s what Trump cares about. The identity warriors on the left will deface statues or whatever and set up mutually beneficial confrontations with the identity warriors on the right. Things will get uglier.
.. And this is where the dissolution of the G.O.P. comes in. Conservative universalists are coming to realize their party has become a vehicle for white identity and racial conflict. This faction is prior to and deeper than Trump.
.. It may someday be possible to reduce the influence of white identity politics, but probably not while Trump is in office. As long as he is in power the G.O.P. is a house viciously divided against itself, and cannot stand.