Current lamentations by the so-called Republican Party establishment that the Grand Old Party is fading away with the likely presidential nomination of Donald Trump are misplaced. Those alleged experts who are ignorant of American history apparently don’t understand the party’s origins in the1850’s and 1860’s as the party of Abraham Lincoln and other advocates of ending slavery. Hard though it may be to recognize today, until the 1932 presidential election in which Democrat Franklin Roosevelt decisively defeated Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover, most African Americans who were allowed to vote voted Republican. Only gradually did the majority of African Americans embrace the by now more progressive Democratic Party (outside of the South, that is, where the Democratic Party generally supported Jim Crow Laws and obstacles to voting–the latter akin to the Republican Party in most of the South today).
When Hoover was overwhelming defeated by Roosevelt in 1932, many feared the end of the GOP as a national party. Similar fears accompanied the overwhelming defeat of Senator Barry Goldwater by incumbent President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But four years later, former Vice President Richard Nixon led the GOP to victory. Go figure.
That 1968 Nixon presidential triumph also began the transformation of the once solidly Democratic South into the generally Republican South that exists today. Lincoln’s legacy as the author of the Emancipation Proclamation does not exactly match the racist cast of so much of the Republican Party almost everywhere today.
If Trump is blasted by other Republicans as refusing to reject the support of David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, how many other Republican Presidential candidates have denounced the increasingly successful efforts by Republican-dominated state houses to reduce the opportunities for poor citizens without cars to be able to register to vote on election day? How many have criticized the growing demand for voter ID for those lacking official identification cards even in the absence—as in the state of Maine—of serious voter fraud?
The nomination of Donald Trump would not, then, mean the end of the Republican Party. Far from it.