It’s amazing now to recall that the Republican Party was founded in order to abolish the enslavement of blacks. The transformation of the GOP into a white nationalist party took time. It started when Barry Goldwater campaigned for president on opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, drawing segregationists out of the Democratic Party and into the GOP. Republicans like Nixon accepted this shift, because it helped them win elections. But they did so at great cost to the GOP’s moral authority as a party of racial equality.
The conservative movement has not come to grips with this problem. Most conservatives have failed to appreciate the GOP’s lurch toward white nationalism, because most conservative elites are white, have mostly white friends, and have no real understanding of why their party hasn’t successfully appealed to non-whites.
Younger conservatives—the Gen Xers and Millennials who flocked to Marco Rubio—are much better on this stuff, because they grew up in a more diverse environment. It will be up to them to articulate a conservatism that can appeal to Americans of all races and creeds.
It won’t happen this year. But if American conservatism is to survive the 21st century, it’ll have to happen soon.