I'm not the only one who has noted the similarities between the Know Nothing Party of the 19th Century and the current GOP. The likeness probably holds implications for the future of the Republican Party.
As a caveat, there are some loose connections here. But if you don't follow along, would you miss out on some accurate insight? Or maybe a prediction?
So, in the 1840s, various groups emerged from fragments of the old Whig Party. They eventually took the form of secret societies, who's members would omit any details about their activities with the phrase "I know nothing."
Most of them were WASPs, and they denounced Catholics for differences in worship and lifestyle. By the time they gained political traction, they scapegoated Catholics and African Americans for "economic disparity" and other so-called civic deficiencies.
Essentially, they peddled a platform of xenophobia, nativism, and anti-immigration.
However, they lost the race to the White House, and were eventually subsumed by the GOP. They were so divisive that they alienated their audience and forced other groups to become strange bedfellows in order to defeat them.
Fast forward to 2015, and Trump vilifies immigrants and out-groups. The KKK eventually endorses him, and he has the lowest approval rating in recent memory because not even members of his own party can stand him.
So you'd think that this is just fate or coincidence, right? I mean, the Republicans have always been wary of outsiders, and the GOP can be traced back to the old Know Nothings in some ways.
Except, maybe his campaign knows more than it lets on.
Last year, Steve Bannon explicitly said in an interview that "we are the know-nothing vulgarians." He responded to a question about Asian CEOs, so you know he's a white nationalist.
Trump himself makes some odd "know-nothing" comments here, here, and here. His "ignorance" of Russia has been debunked here and here, while his "ignorance" of David Duke was debunked here. Even Paul Ryan denied knowing anything about Steve Bannon, while Mitch Mcconnell remains tight-lipped (skip to 7:00) even though Steve Bannon has been such a prominent actor in all of this.
So what's my point here?
I don't want to make blind allegations, but I think we could be dealing with elements of a secret society - a secret society that makes deliberate homages to the Know Nothing Party in Trump's administration. And, if that's the case, then Trump shouldn't be underestimated. It means that he's a bigger troll than people would assume at face value.
But, aside from any conspiracy theory, the key elements remain. Since the Know Nothings were so divisive, the GOP establishment may suffer a ton of headaches from Trump's message. It may prove to undermine them. Nevertheless, we should buckle up.
More here, here, and here.