By Sean Connolly, editorial columnist
After the New Hampshire primary, the Republican Party has successfully declared its frontrunners. A loud, obnoxious xenophobe and misogynist in Donald Trump. A quieter, more evangelical, equally obnoxious xenophobe and misogynist in Ted Cruz. Behind them Marco Rubio, the “moderate” and “establishment” Republican who is apparently really upset that Barack Obama is trying to make us more like the rest of the world, because being the nation with the highest amount of wealth inequality and the highest incarceration rate is something to be proud of. There’s also some guy who is, I guess, the governor of Ohio, and whose entire second-place speech in New Hampshire was some weird personal recollection in which he gave no indication of what policies he supports. But for all these candidates, attacks against Planned Parenthood, Mexicans and Muslims have become ways to score points. Two-thirds of voters in the New Hampshire Republican primary wanted to ban Muslims from entering the US – proving, as if we needed any more evidence, that the Republican Party is a national embarrassment.
“Make America great again” may be Donald Trump’s slogan, but it’s a sentiment all the Republicans are eager to repeat. The way they want to do this is telling. Deporting immigrants, banning Muslims, defunding Planned Parenthood, ignoring issues like pay equity and violence against women and dismissing the massive racial inequalities in our country, the Republican primary candidates are trying to make America “great” for one specific group: White, straight men. Which, of course, is the only group of people for whom America has ever been great.
If the Republicans aren’t specifically yearning for a time when white men had all the power in this country, then one has to wonder what time they are harkening back to. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are talking about some time after the Civil War and abolition, even though many still proclaim “national pride” in the Confederate flag. So, are they referring to the Jim Crow era? The years upon years of systematic political and economic oppression of African-Americans that continues into this day and has led directly to a massive wealth disparity between blacks and whites? Maybe they’re talking about the time women couldn’t vote and the cult of domesticity dictated that women weren’t meant to do any work outside the household. Or maybe they’re referring to the society we’ve lived in for the hundred-odd years after women’s suffrage, where, to this day, women have to fight constantly and fiercely to overcome our extremely patriarchal society. Republicans could be talking about that time Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of the most loved presidents in our history, forced all Japanese-Americans into internment camps. They could be talking about that time same-gender couples couldn’t marry. Or possibly that time when Muslim-Americans lived in constant fear (oh wait, my bad, that last one is the current day, and it’s been caused directly by these Republican candidates).
My theory here is that white, straight men are realizing that they’re losing their power, and they’re upset about it. They’re worried about losing their privileges, so they’re lashing out. And if there’s one thing white men are good for (and we aren’t good for much), it’s lashing out with violence and bigotry. We’ve been doing it since Columbus “discovered” the New World, when we caused the genocide of entire civilizations of Native Americans. But there’s good news. Census information shows that the white majority in the US will be gone by 2043. This is the rage of the dying majority, the last, pathetic grasp for power by a group that has caused so much of the world’s suffering. If we can ride it out, maybe the white male will quietly accept his loss of power. The world will be a better place for it.