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The Republicans Dilemma and the Country’s Challenge
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The Republicans Dilemma and the Country’s Challenge

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It seems that it no longer matters what Trump does or what he promises to do. What he says has become irrelevant. To his followers it is his style his brazenness, and his determination to say what they have been waiting their entire lives for a politician to actually proclaim.  Most of his followers probably cannot believe it is happening but they are so euphoric that words do not matter. Trump has become the most Teflon coated candidate in history and his troops are ecstatic.

Within the Republican Party there is an agony transpiring of biblical proportions. Conservatives, moderates, and even the few liberal Republicans are observing their party implode and they appear totally helpless. Reading the scathing attacks on Trump and on Cruz from some of the neo-con voices, it seems that many of those stalwart Republicans will either vote for the Democrat candidate or sit out the election. (Why it happened and what will become of the GOP will be left to another occasion, but it is obvious to many that there indeed may be no way to save the traditional Republican Party.) Among Republican officeholders, however, despite all the grumping and fireworks, it seems likely that many or even most of them will swallow hard and hook themselves to their party’s nominee; regardless whom the party selects.

The real issue beyond the changes in the Republican Party posed by Trump or even Cruz is the effect that the Republican campaign has and will have on the nation, on future campaigns, and the character of democracy in America. All of these issues cannot be addressed in a single post, but herewith one major concern.   

The language, the tone, and the verbally distasteful rhetoric will fade into history. The problem is that the campaign has stirred up deeply held attitudes that many had felt were behind us. Racial hostility which it was believed Obama had helped the country finally put behind itself has emerged dramatically over the past few years. Now it has inserted itself into this year’s political campaign with a venom and hostility which makes it apparent how deep is the bitterness that is seething underneath many segments of the country in political as well as cultural terms.

It is not only the First Amendment freedoms which are being challenged at the Trump rallies in the confrontations between his supporters and the protesters, but also the racial and sexual biases evident among the participants. It is not only the beating of protesters, being afraid to hold rallies, or Trump berating demonstrators; it is the fact that it is producing vile and scary charges of blame. The next step will be when Trump produces his own security services to “keep the peace.”

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