Over the last few days, the loud droning whine of the conservative movement has built to a deafening crescendo.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, conservatives are shocked — SHOCKED — that Donald Trump’s misogynist, sexist, boorish campaign has not only attracted a following, but has in fact become the dominant force in Republican electoral politics.
Who the hell do they think they’re kidding?
Trump is not an aberration, but in fact he is the current end point of the right’s five-decade long stewing in the waters of intolerance and bigotry.
The businessman turned reality TV star has simply morphed himself into the ultimate “pander bear,” giving the right exactly what it has said it wants and values for years and years and years.
It is impossible to know what lies at Trump’s true core besides narcissism and ego, but what he is good at is telling people want they want to hear. The problem for the right is that a majority of their base is far less interested in lectures about trickle-down economics and laissez faire economics than good old fashioned demagoguery about the different.
Conservatives like to prop up this image of themselves as tweed jacket wearing pipe smokers who cite Greek philosophers and invoke “first principles.” It’s a mental version of cosplay, only instead of The Incredible Hulk, they’re emulating William F. Buckley.
Except the real Buckley was also a Trump-style basher of dark skinned people. His magazine, National Review, was slamming Martin Luther King Jr. and telling black people they were inferior long before Donald Trump erected his first skyscraper.
The not-so-secret history of the conservative movement is one in which the base instincts of wealthy white men to put down everyone perceived as a threat, particularly if their skin is the wrong tone or their gender was the “weaker” sex, were the dominant and sole world view granted legitimacy.
That is the world in which Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Tom DeLay, Louis Gohmert, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney all hold hands and sing “cumbayah.”
It isn’t new, Trump isn’t breaking ground, he’s simply saying into the microphone what Mitt Romney said should be confined to “quiet rooms.”
The conservative pundits who reached for their fainting couches when Trump said the military should disobey orders and torture people were the same ones who cheered the loudest when Dick Cheney defended torture under the term “enhanced interrogation.” They were the ones who nodded in agreement or at best sat on their hands when Rush Limbaugh described the torture at Abu Ghraib as a “blowing off steam.”
The right wingers who howled as conservative financier Foster Friessadvocated women put a pill between their knees as contraception want us to believe they are shocked and appalled when Trump makes crude remarks about menstrual blood or made remarks about Carly Fiorina’s attractiveness?
Who are they trying to fool?
In 1964, Martin Luther King lamented “ the frenzied wedding at the Cow Palace of the KKK with the radical right” at the Republican Party convention that year. Four years later the same party nominated Nixon, who exploited racial tensions for his electoral gain, then Reagan invoked the welfare pimp, Bush Jr. scaremongered about same-sex marriage, and Romney and McCain both tried to benefit from the adoption of voter ID laws designed to cut down on Democratic-leaning minority voters. All along conservative intellectualism has been dominated by right-wing media figures who have referred to black leaders as “chocolate chips,” attacking anyone who doesn’t look like their white, male, audience, and defining what it is to be a conservative from 1964 to present.
Donald Trump isn’t doing anything new. He isn’t breaking any new ground for the conservative movement, with one difference: Trump is saying what Limbaugh and his ilk have been saying on the radio for decades, only now he’s making the same argument from the debate stage and on the campaign trail.
He’s airing the dirty laundry, and instead of rejecting it, conservatives are eating it up. It’s hard to blame them. They’ve been instructed for years and years to think this is how the world really is and is how it should be described.
Unlike the rest, however, Trump is so invested in pandering to them that he’s got the balls to say it out loud.