The David’s Heel Turn
Imagine if David Duke had never appeared in the quad at LSU in full Nazi regalia in 1968 and he had instead headed the advice he would later give other racists to wear a suit and to never say “that” word?
He might have won elections he lost and perhaps set himself on a path to higher office, perhaps even the highest. Instead he made himself so toxic that in 1991 the Republican Party was forced to encourage their own voters in a Louisiana state representative election to support the blatantly corrupt Edwin Edwards with their now famous bumper sticker: “Vote for the crook. It’s important”.
Fast forward to today.
There is a toxic soup of right wing outrage radio and internet conspiracies in this country so resistant to facts that the President of the United States Barack Obama is thought to have not even been born in this country and is in fact a secret radical Muslim dedicated to the downfall of America.
Citizens in some parts of the US are so paranoid & fearful of their government that a sitting governor of Texas has to pander to their crazy talk he requests the Texas Guard to keep watch on the U.S. Army as they engage in annual training exercises.
A heel turn is wresting is when a “bad guy” sheds his skin to become a “good guy”. When David Duke shed his robes for a three piece suit he began his move towards respectability he began his heel turn. He recognized a potential for ugliness and hate that exists with a portion of the electorate but a man in a Nazi uniform could never reach the sons and daughters of a generation that stormed Omaha Beach. To be successful with the anti-immigrant and the resentful he would have to appear to be a successful businessman. His sin was in being right too soon.
Donald Trump’s appeal to the Republican electorate is a surprise to exactly no one who understands what David Duke meant all those years ago. The hateful spew towards immigrants, the code word dog whistles to racists, the “reality show” mud slinging theater of the absurd is political wrestling and the Republican Party is more than happy to play along.