Work­ing-class Repub­li­cans anx­ious over Trump party

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

HER­SHEY: Penn­syl­va­nia’s work­ing-class con­ser­va­tives see Don­ald Trump as a sav­ior who can bring back jobs and rev­o­lu­tion­ize Wash­ing­ton. But should he lose, there is gen­uine con­cern about the Repub­li­can Party, and whether it can even sur­vive. The men and women who pop­u­late the in­dus­trial towns of Penn­syl­va­nia and other Rust Belt states were de­rided by Barack Obama in 2008 as “bit­ter” Amer­i­cans who “cling to guns or reli­gion.”

Eight years later, with the White House on the line, the slight re­mains fresh for many in ru­ral parts of the state, who feel in­creas­ingly iso­lated from the de­ci­sions made in Wash­ing­ton. Trump is the provoca­tive real es­tate mogul who turned pol­i­tics on its head with an an­tag­o­nis­tic, 18-month pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that bested 16 fel­low Repub­li­can chal­lengers.

In do­ing so he left a yawn­ing chasm be­tween the Repub­li­can lead­ers and the mil­lions who em­braced a grass-roots move­ment. Should Trump win on Novem­ber 8 the party will be his-a stun­ning seizure of po­lit­i­cal power that could change the course of Amer­i­can con­ser­vatism for decades. If he loses, Repub­li­cans have ma­jor re­build­ing and heal­ing ahead.

Some Trump sup­port­ers openly pon­der the Grand Old Party’s demise, and be­lieve that many who were swept up in sup­port for the for­mer re­al­ity TV star could aban­don the party. “I doubt that they’ll go back into the fold,” Ken Bleis­tein, 66, told AFP at a crowded Trump rally Fri­day in Her­shey, Penn­syl­va­nia, four days be­fore Elec­tion Day. The re­tiree said he “wouldn’t be sur­prised” if con­ser­va­tive Trump sup­port­ers-who re­sent lead­ers like House Speaker Paul Ryan for turn­ing their backs on the con­tro­ver­sial nom­i­nee-flee as the party seeks to re­assert con­trol over a restive flock.

Penn­syl­va­ni­ans may feel par­tic­u­larly ag­grieved. The state has shed man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, and its un­em­ploy­ment rate is higher than the na­tional av­er­age. The state has not voted Repub­li­can in a pres­i­den­tial race since 1988. Its ru­ral ter­ri­tory is over­whelm­ingly con­ser­va­tive, but the heav­ily Demo­cratic metropo­lis of Philadel­phia has strength in num­bers. Of the dozen vot­ers in­ter­viewed in Her­shey, all ex­pressed vary­ing de­grees of out­rage at the Repub­li­can Party for re­fus­ing to fully en­dorse Trump, or for fail­ing to fol­low through on prom­ises like re­peal­ing Oba­macare once the they gained con­trol of Congress.

‘Rev­o­lu­tion!’

“They’ve moved to the mid­dle, they’ve com­pro­mised, and that’s re­ally got a lot of con­ser­va­tive peo­ple into a tizzy,” Roger Springer said at the aptly named Amer­i­can Dream Diner in Har­ris­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia’s cap­i­tal. “I feel we need to go back to our prin­ci­ples and stick up for what we be­lieve is right,” said Springer, who runs a potato grow­ers’ co­op­er­a­tive. He be­lieves Trump is the man to do that. The 67-year-old Springer be­lieves that calls for rev­o­lu­tion and pitch­fork demon­stra­tions by in­fu­ri­ated con­ser­va­tives are blown out of pro­por­tion. “But there def­i­nitely will be ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the party,” he said. “There’s gonna be a rev­o­lu­tion!” in­sisted dry­wall fin­isher Wayne Hess, 56, as he talked with other Trump sup­port­ers in Her­shey. But he walked back his ral­ly­ing cry, stress­ing that the party would main­tain co­he­sion.—AFP

— AP

DEN­VER: Sup­port­ers of Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Don­ald Trump, cheer as he ar­rives to speak dur­ing a cam­paign rally.

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