can’t disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke for
the same reason the Republican party can’t disavow his candidacy — and
it could splinter the GOP vote in 2016.
A new Democracy Corp likely voter survey of Republican base voters
reveals the foundational values holding together the Republican base,
as well as the fissures that threaten to splinter the GOP’s voting
coalition in this election cycle. The survey finds that Moderates — who
are solidly pro-choice, and done with the “culture wars” — make up about
31 percent of the GOP base. A significant percentage of them could
break with the GOP, and possibly even vote Democratic, if Donald Trump
is the nominee.
paints a picture of a party united by fears about Democratic governance,
immigration, and racial diversity. That’s not hard to believe. The GOP
spent decades masterfully playing on the racial fears and anxieties of
white working-class voters, and paving the way for a candidate just like
white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke announced
his support for Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump.
Without formally endorsing “the Donald,” Duke said on his radio program that he supports Trump.
Duke asked his listeners to , “get off your duff … call Donald Trump’s
headquarters, volunteer. They’re screaming for volunteers.” He warned
that a vote against trump would be a “treason to your heritage.”
Three times Trump had a chance to disavow Duke’s support. Three times he failed to do so.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Trump claimed that he didn’t
know enough about Duke to condemn him. When Tapper followed up, Trump
said, ’I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want
me to condemn a group that I know nothing about.“ When Tapper spelled
out that he was talking about Duke , Trump answered, ”Honestly, I don’t
know David Duke. I don’t believe I’ve ever met him. I’m pretty sure I
didn’t meet him. And I just don’t know anything about him.”
racial fear and anxiety has long been an effective tool for the GOP.
Historically, it was crucial in implementing the “Southern Strategy”
that made the South a GOP stronghold, as it was to keeping Jim Crow in
place for generations. Both now and then, conservatives have relied on
racial anxiety to keep poor and working-class whites from finding
solidarity with poor and working-class people of color, against an
economic system that disadvantages both.
can’t denounce the support of the KKK, or turn down his rhetoric,
because he knows that doing so could cost him the support of the very
GOP base voters he needs. Republicans can’t denounce Trump’s candidacy
for the same reason. It depends upon basest of the GOP base and the
ugliest voices at the farthest fringe of the political spectrum, but
it’s all they’ve got.
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