From the NY Fishwrapper:
The Republican Party is facing a historic split over its fundamental principles and identity, as its once powerful establishment grapples with an eruption of class tensions, ethnic resentments and mistrust among working-class conservatives who are demanding a presidential nominee who represents their interests.
At family dinners and New Year’s parties, in conference calls and at private lunches, longtime Republicans are expressing a growing fear that the coming election could be shattering for the party, or reshape it in ways that leave it unrecognizable.
While warring party factions usually reconcile after brutal nomination fights, this race feels different, according to interviews with more than 50 Republican leaders, activists, donors and voters, from both elite circles and the grass roots.
This race feels different because the elites aren’t winning.
Never have so many voters been attracted to Republican candidates like Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who are challenging core party beliefs on the economy and national security and new goals like winning over Hispanics through immigration reform. Rank-and-file conservatives, after decades of deferring to party elites, are trying to stage what is effectively a people’s coup by selecting a standard-bearer who is not the preferred candidate of wealthy donors and elected officials.
And many of those traditional power brokers, in turn, are deeply uncomfortable and even hostile to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz: Between them, the leading candidates do not have the backing of a single senator or governor.
“I haven’t seen this large of a division in my career,” said Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican first elected to Congress in 1982. “You probably have to go back to Ford versus Reagan in 1976. But that was only two people.”
The issues animating grass-roots voters — opposition to immigration, worries about wages and discomfort with America’s fast-changing demographics — are diverging from and at times colliding with the Republican establishment’s interests in free trade, lower taxes, less regulation and openness to immigration.
The fractures could help a Democrat win the White House if Republicans do not ultimately find ways to unite, as one candidate, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, warned last week.
The divide was evident at a recent Greenville, S.C., gathering of bankers and lawyers, reliable Republicans who shared tea and pastries and their growing anxieties about where their party is going. In a meeting room near the wooded shore of Furman Lake, the group of mostly older white men expressed concern that their party was fracturing over free trade, immigration and Wall Street. And they worried that their candidates — mainstream conservatives like Jeb Bush — were losing.
“It’s all really hard to believe that decades of Republican ideas are at risk,” said Barry Wynn, a prominent Bush donor at the meeting.
Notice that neither the authors nor the people they interviewed seemed to think this would be a good thing. So which decades are we talking about here? The Clinton 90’s? The Bush 00’s? The Obama Teens?
The strains on Republicanism are driven home by scenes like the 1,500 people who waited two hours in 10-degree weather on Tuesday night to see Mr. Trump campaign in Claremont, N.H. And the 700 who jammed the student center of an Iowa Christian college the same evening to hear Mr. Cruz. These crowds were full of lunch-bucket conservatives who expressed frustration with the Republican gentry.
“The Republican Party has never done anything for the working man like me, even though we’ve voted Republican for years,” said Leo Martin, a 62-year-old machinist from Newport, N.H., who attended Mr. Trump’s Claremont rally. “This election is the first in my life where we can change what it means to be a Republican.”
There is a word for it when the people overrule the elites and decide how things should be. It’s called “democracy.”
Don’t be surprised when you start hearing about “Trump Democrats”. These will be the white working class voters (racists) who feel that the Democrat party has abandoned them too.
No wonder the elites in both parties are scared.