For the past week or so, one city has prominently been in the news: Charlottesville.
Charlottesville is known as the home to the University of Virginia, one of the best public universities in the United States.
But Charlottesville’s name became synonymous with terror after an attack on counter-protestors occurred on August 12, resulting in the death of a counter protester. Counter protestors took the streets of Charlottesville to protest against a white nationalist/Neo-Nazi march, which had begun the night before allegedly to “oppose the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue.”
Controversy erupted when President Trump, commenting on the Charlottesville attack, failed to denounce by name, white nationalists and Neo-Nazis, and suggested that the counter protesters, who opposed these hate groups were equally at fault in the violence that occurred. And while Trump, feeling overwhelming pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, did later denounce the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis, he then did a complete turn around and retracted that statement and defended his original comment that the counter protesters were equally at fault.
And while there were heavy consequences for Trump and for the alt-right movement, there is one consequence of Charlottesville that has been vastly overlooked: the consequence and effect on the Republican party.
Trump won the election partly because many Americans were dissatisfied with what the Democratic party had become. Many felt that Democratic party was out of touch and that it no longer represented their interests. Many felt that the party had moved too far left and that American ideals were being lost. In addition, people were unhappy with the Obama administration and decided it was time for change. And while Trump seemed erratic, many viewed the Republican party as more moderate and true than the Democratic party.
However, after the attack in Charlottesville, the Republican party is now dangerously close to becoming identified as increasingly radical. The Republican party cannot afford to be even perceived as sympathetic toward the radical-right cause.
Trump needs to remember that he represents the entire Republican party. While his reluctance to denounce the white nationalist groups may seem like it only hurts his legacy, the Republican party will also suffer.
If the Republican party doesn’t denounce outright and explicitly the alt-right, then it’s game over. No matter how left the Democratic party has become, most Americans will not want to be associated with a political party that has factions that support Neo-Nazism and white supremacy.
It’s imperative to remember that the ideals of Neo-Nazism are as un-American as they get, and that the majority of the United States does not condone this hatred.
The President needs to understand that his actions have far-reaching consequences, and that if he continues to be careless, the Republicans can kiss their majorities goodbye.