The final Whig president of the United States was Millard Filmore in 1853. He marked the death of the Whigs, and the rise of the Know-Nothings. Today the GOP faces its own death, and the continued success of Donald Trump in the polls reflects the fact that the Republican Party is staring into its own grave.
The Know-Nothing party was formed in reaction to Irish Catholic immigration, and pledged to restore “Native Americans” to political power (and by that I don’t mean Hiawatha, but WASPs). Forming a party based on reactionary impulse is the death-rattle of a lost cause, and the Whigs became the American Party in 1854 after Fillmore’s term.
Donald Trump’s message resonates with many Republicans because he speaks what most of us know, and doesn’t hold his tongue or make excuses for our elected representatives’ failure to deal with immigration problems over the last three decades our failure to end the rise of Islamic terrorism, and our failure to keep the American economy growing.
But Trump’s promises are nothing but Styrofoam—light-weight and filling lots of volume. When heat is applied to Styrofoam, it evaporates, leaving a void. If nothing fills the void, the party will fall of its own weight. It’s nobody’s fault but our own if Trump destroys the GOP—and he very well could (take this seriously).
Trump’s only reaction to criticism is to play the know-nothing game: “I didn’t say that, and you’re a jerk.” Its one thing to be non-politically correct, and it’s quite another to use personal attacks as a primary method of dealing with all criticism.
When Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon that Fox News’ debate moderator Megyn Kelly “had blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her…whatever” there’s no way a reasonable person would interpret that to mean anything other than attributing Kelly’s question to her menstrual cycle—after calling Kelly a “bimbo.”
Trump’s remark goes beyond decorum and extends into gratuitous asshatery. Watch for yourself.
He said this in the midst of the biggest gathering of GOP candidates seen in one city, where each person gets to speak for a half hour instead of 4 to 10 minutes in a scripted “debate.” And Redstate Gathering host Erick Erickson said he didn’t want to share his stage with Trump unless he explained himself.
I have rescinded my invitation to Mr.Trump. While I have tried to give him great latitude, his remark about Megyn Kelly was a bridge too far
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) August 8, 2015
Erick made the right call.
“This is just another example of weakness through being politically correct. For all of the people who were looking forward to Mr. Trump coming, we will miss you. Blame Erick Erickson, your weak and pathetic leader,” according to a campaign statement.
Trump is a direct result of the GOP’s inability to define itself as a party with a purpose. If the GOP is defined as “everything that isn’t Democrat” then it’s nothing more than the Whigs of 1854. Dead.
There are at least five solid conservative candidates who have real policies, who aren’t Stryofoam in the party. But if voters continue to fuel Trump’s ego-driven jags into personal attacks and obnoxiousness, his Styrofoam candidacy will continue to grow and increase the size of the void when it finally self-annihilates.
GOP, it’s time to grow up and look down into the grave that the Whigs fell into before our party goes the way of the Know-Nothings.