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Former Washington Journalist
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Exploiting racism is the Republican Party’s “original sin,” and now Donald Trump’s taking full advantage of that fact, a former adviser to the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney wrote in his new book.
Trump has become synonymous with his xenophobic and racist rhetoric. And that’s intersected at a time when much of the nation has turned to a movement towards racial justice and reckoning after the May 25 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis Minn., police custody.
“Well, look, 1956, [Dwight] Eisenhower got almost 40 percent of the African-American vote. That dropped to 7 percent in 1964 with [Barry] Goldwater,” said Stuart Stevens, author of It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump. “You could have made a case Goldwater was against the Civil Rights Act. You could have made the case that some African-Americans in significant numbers would come back to the Republican Party because of commonality, cultural conservatism, role of faith in the public square, entrepreneurship, but it didn’t happen.
“So, since 1964, the Republican Party has been basically marketing itself to overwhelmingly white voters. Now, you know, it used to be we looked at this and we knew it was a failure. We admitted it was a failure, and we aspired to do better,” Stevens said. “We had a lot of talk about the big tent party. [Ken] Mehlman in 2005, chairman of the [Republican National Committee], went to the NAACP and apologized for the southern strategy that [Richard] Nixon had to try to divide African-Americans from the Democratic Party and maximize white votes.
“Now we’ve just settled into this sort of comfortableness. We don’t even talk about being a big party. Trump really is running like [one-time segregationist Alabama Gov.] George Wallace,” Stevens added. “He’s out there, tweeting about the confederate flag. He is on the wrong side of the cultural war with NASCAR. It is what it is, as he would say.”
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