Geoffrey Kabaservice is the author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party.
From his Q & A with Isaac Chotiner at Slate:
How has Trump’s takeover of the party changed the way you think about the GOP, assuming you did not predict this, because nobody did?--Marshal Zeringue
Yeah, I certainly was not Nostradamus. On the other hand, there are some parallels to the party’s history. The parallel a lot of people have been mentioning is Barry Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater’s seizure of the nomination was as unexpected back in those days as Trump’s was this year. Part of the reason is that Goldwater’s conservatism was not seen as the dominant strain in the party. It frankly had seemed to be an isolated or perhaps even marginal aspect of Republicanism.
I think you are right that Trump is as ideologically surprising as Goldwater, but he seems more surprising in terms of personality and background. Goldwater was a senator; Trump’s personality seems more shocking.
Yes and no. Think back to 1964.
I can’t think back that far, but go on.
Yes, of course, well, neither of us can. Just as Goldwater was poised to win the nomination after he defeated Nelson Rockefeller in the California primary, he voted against the Civil Rights Act. In so doing, he really took away the glory the party deserved for supporting the act. Republicans had voted for it in greater numbers than Democrats had. [Editor’s note: Because of their congressional majority, more Democrats than Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act, but a higher percentage of Republicans did so.]* Goldwater, having done that, given that he was the party’s presumptive nominee, really threatened to change the identity of the party. And that was in some ways how it played out. Although Eisenhower had received something like 40 percent of the black vote in 1956, and even Richard Nixon had received a third in 1960, with Goldwater it plummeted to 4 to 6 percent...[read on]