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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/29/16

What's Coming Next in the Republican Presidential Primary?

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) March 29, 2016: Historically, the prestige culture in American culture was dominated by white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), and lapsed Protestants. In general, WASPs tended to have a distaste for non-white and/or non-Anglo-Saxon and/or non-Protestant people, but lapsed Protestants who were white Anglo-Saxons could be acceptable still.

Symbolically, the narrow and surprising election in 1960 of Harvard-educated Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts to be the first Irish American Roman Catholic president of the United States marks the waning of WASP dominance of the prestige culture in American culture.

No doubt WASP women enjoyed a certain status when WASPs, and lapsed Protestants, dominated the prestige culture.

However, in the 1960s and 1970s, the women's movement challenged the status of women, including WASP women, in American culture generally.

As Philip Jenkins shows in his book Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (Oxford University Press, 2006), conservatives capitalized on certain excesses of the 1960s and 1970s by using anti-60s rhetoric to advance their cause.

Anti-60s conservatives have dominated the Republican Party. Their vociferous resistance to the social and cultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s has contributed to the bottom-up support of white males for Donald J. Trump's bid to become the Republican Party's presidential candidate in the 2016 election.

Not surprisingly, his bid for the nomination has included derogatory words about certain women, including Megyn Kelly of Fox News. Fox News is not famous for supporting the women's movement. Nevertheless, even the folks at Fox News have figured out that Trumps' ongoing volley of words denigrating Kelly is a bit much.

Of course Trump's denigrating volleys have targeted certain other groups besides women -- including Muslims and immigrants. And white male Republicans keep cheering him on and voting for him in Republican primaries.

But how will Trump's various denigrating volleys play out in the general elections in 2016?

Long before the women's movement emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, American women had won the right to vote. Today, among eligible voters, women outnumber men, and women tend to vote more than men do. In the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney lost the women's vote big time.

But anti-60s conservatives have established an extensive record for not being fast learners.

Nevertheless, do Republican candidates for other elective offices think that Trump's primary campaign is going to help them with women voters?

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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