From Abraham Lincoln to Donald Trump, the history of the GOP.
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Taibbi's full article: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/r-i-p-gop-how-trump-is-killing-the-republican-party-20160518

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To understand the context of Republican voters settling on Donald Trump, let's take a look at the history of the GOP.

The Grand Old Party was formed by antislavery forces in the 1850’s. Back then, the Republican party was actually the progressive party in American politics. The first Republican President was Abraham Lincoln, who was elected in what political scientists say was the first of three critical elections in American history. Before Lincoln was even inaugurated, seven southern slaveholding states had seceded from the Union, setting the stage for the Civil War. Lincoln and the Republicans in congress who controlled the Union won that war and freed the slaves. But after Lincoln was assassinated, during reconstruction, the Republican Party punished former leaders of the Confederacy by not allowing them to vote or hold office, and gave former slaves the right to vote. This turned whites in the south against the Republican Party for the next 100 years and led to the creation of Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation and took the vote away from blacks.

In 1896 the second critical election in American history gave William McKinley the presidency and the Republicans large majorities in both houses of congress. This time-period cemented the Republicans as the party of low taxes, conservative social policies, and anti-government intervention in the economy, although legendary President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt tried to push the Party in a more progressive direction.

Fast-forward to after the stock market crash of 1929 when the country was in the depths of the Great Depression, but the Republicans refused to take direct government intervention to help the economy, leading to the third critical election in American history, in 1932, when Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal Coalition defeated incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover by 413 electoral votes. “That the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Roosevelt then enacted the most progressive social programs in history, won reelection three times, and led the US to an eventual victory in WWII.

The Republican-controlled congress never wanted to be out of power for that long again, so they approved the twenty-second amendment to the constitution, which limited presidents to just two terms in office.

After the war Roosevelt’s Democratic successor Harry Truman integrated the U.S. military - a move that angered many white southern Democrats who began switching to the Republican Party.

In 1952, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower - the World War II Supreme Allied Commander - became President. His centrist governing style went a long way toward normalizing Roosevelt’s expanded role for the federal government.  

In 1964 Democratic President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act which was intended to end discrimination, especially in the south. This moment, more than any other, defined the parties as we still know them today, with the Democrats coming full circle from being the party of the Confederacy 100 years earlier, to ultimately embracing diversity and equal rights; whereas the Republican Party shifted significantly to the right on social issues as it happily took in the many white voters abandoning the Democrats.

This shift was on full display, as 11 southern states voted for the Republican Richard Nixon.

Six years after Nixon’s Presidency ended in disgrace after the Watergate scandal, the Republicans finally had a leader they could be proud of in the former actor and Governor of California Ronald Reagan. Reagan took advantage of a bad economy and the Iran hostage crisis to defeat sitting President Jimmy Carter in a landslide and became the father of modern conservatism with deep tax cuts and a massive buildup of the U.S. military that helped facilitate the fall of the Soviet Union.

Reagan was followed by his Republican Vice President, George H.W. Bush, who helped cement many of Reagan’s signature policies.

Bill Clinton’s democratic presidency was dangerous for Republicans in that he was a charismatic white southerner capable of making inroads with the Republican base, so to counter his appeal, they highlighted his infidelities, a tactic that was largely successful in tainting his presidency despite Clinton’s success in building a strong economy and securing a relatively peaceful world... 


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