It was just over two years ago that Donald Trump was considered an outsider in the Republican Party. He’d been denounced by party leaders and conservative pundits who decried his rhetoric as racially extreme and criticized his politics for diverging from traditional conservativism.
But today, Trump's approval rating among Republican voters hovers at around 90 percent and he is warmly embraced by the conservative movement. How did Trump progress from party outsider to Oval Office?
UO political scientist Joe Lowndes will explore this question in an upcoming Quack Chats pub talk at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at the Ax Billy Grill & Sports Bar at the Downtown Athletic Club, 999 Willamette St. in Eugene. His talk, “Trump’s Unexpected Rise to Power and the Future of the Republican Party,” is free and open to the public.
“The far-right nationalism of Donald Trump appears to have finally taken over the Republican Party," Lowndes said. “While Trump’s brand of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim politics was once rejected by party leaders, we’re seeing an increasing number of Republicans adopt a similar strategy, of appealing to racism and xenophobia.”
Lowndes will turn to history to help the audience understand this transformation within the Republican Party. He’ll outline the rise of right-wing populism over the last half century and trace the recent history of racial nationalism in U.S. politics, from the presidential campaign of Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1968 to Pat Buchanan’s run for office in 1992 to Trump’s presidency today.
“Right-wing populism has been an influential force in the GOP for decades, and it’s now dominant,” Lowndes said. “The racialized right-wing politics and rhetoric that we’re seeing more and more shows the way the Republican Party has been transformed since the civil rights era.”
Lowndes specializes in American political development, populism, conservatism, political identity and race. He is currently working on a few new publications, including two books: “In Search of Middle America: Right-wing Populism from Nixon to Trump” and “Racial Transpositions: The Labor of Race in the Age of Inequality,” which he is co-authoring with fellow political science faculty member Daniel HoSang.
To learn more about upcoming Quack Chats, see the Quack Chats section on Around the O. A general description of Quack Chats and a calendar of additional Quack Chats and associated public events also can be found on the UO’s Quack Chats website.
—By Emily Halnon, University Communications