It has become increasingly possible that we are witnessing the death throes of the Republican Party as we have known it. The party is hopelessly splintered and there seems no way for it to unite behind a consensus candidate capable of winning in November.
The GOP has no one to blame for this predicament but itself. For decades, since the days of Barry Goldwater, the party has nurtured and cultivated a racist, xenophobic, ultra-nationalist base in order to get candidates elected and benefit its billionaire funders.
These funders are now horrified by the fact that this base has grown stronger than the rest of the party, has revolted and now has been hijacked by Donald Trump. They are scrambling to stop this vulgar, blatantly obvious con artist from being their nominee. The damage has been done, however, and it is probably too late to put Humpty Dumpty back together.
Trump’s rise has also raised serious concerns about the danger of fascism. While this cannot be discounted entirely the Trump phenomena seems more in line with Karl Marx’s wry comment that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” It is true that neo-Nazi elements support Trump and need to be watched, but they are not dominant in his “movement” and Trump, while accepting their presence, is not promoting them. His supporters, by and large, are not, as yet, comparable to the massive, determined strike force that was organized and mobilized in the 20th century by Mussolini, Franco and Hitler with the support of European finance capital.
Nonetheless, it is incumbent on progressives to act forcefully and effectively to prevent anything like that from happening. Fortunately, we have an important means at our disposal in the campaign of Bernie Sanders, who is moving and, to a growing degree uniting, the entire electorate in a progressive direction.
Sanders is raising consciousness of the real challenges we face and thereby isolating the GOP candidates, all of whom support the right-wing program of war, austerity, curtailment of democratic rights and destruction of democratic institutions like trade unions and public education. He is exposing the rigged nature of our economic and political system and calling for taxing the billionaires to fund social needs.
His use of the term “socialism” and his call for transforming society through a vast democratic movement or “political revolution” are inspiring and energizing hundreds of thousands of people, of all ages, races and demographics and bringing them into the electoral process. Hillary Clinton does not have this ability, but if she is the Democratic candidate, she and all of us will owe Sanders a huge – and I mean huge – debt of gratitude.
Vice President Biden once warned that “the barbarians are at the gate,” but the Sanders campaign and the grassroots movement it has generated has greatly increased the potential to soundly defeat that right wing danger.