GOP political consultant Karl Rove.LBJ Library / Jay Godwin / Flickr

This weekend I took all of my kids to see the new Disney movie Zootopia, and it’s hard to miss the liberal propaganda the film doles out.

The filmmakers could not have known this, but the film has a message for our times, dominated as they are by a certain guy named Trump, whose skin tones seem to have come out of an animated movie.

Donald Trump voters, if you won’t take advice from a Disney cartoon -- or John McCain, or Mitt Romney, or even Louis C.K. -- please take advice from conservative guru Karl Rove. Believe it or not, Rove recently wrote a book with a message quite similar to what we see in Zootopia.

“Fear always wins,” a manipulative politician says at one point in Zootopia, which has a surprisingly deep message at its core about the ways fear can be used to scare voters.

But this is only surprising because this is a cartoon and that’s not what people expect from cartoons. Otherwise, when you look around at the current presidential election, it’s quite clear that fear is motivating a large percentage of voters. And Donald Trump is also counting on the idea that fear wins.

How else to explain the appeal of his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim message? He is exploiting a certain segment of the electorate that -- it must be said -- is all too willing to be exploited.

Much is being made of how angry Trump’s voters are. Okay, fine.

You know what? Every election has angry voters. That does not mean their anger is justified.

You know when voters were also angry? During the election of 1896. Back then, voters were rip-roaring furious at Irish as well as other ethnic Catholics.

These immigrants were seen as a force of evil in the country. (Sound familiar?) But Republican presidential nominee William McKinley chose not to exploit these fears.

Of all people, master GOP strategist Rove has come out swinging against his own party’s history of divisiveness.

In The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters, Rove praises former president McKinley for doing battle with religious bigots -- the fiercely anti-Catholic wing of the late 19th century GOP.

As Rove notes, one of the most powerful political forces during the election of 1896 was the American Protective Association. This was a group, with a base in the Midwest but with nationwide appeal, that wanted to make sure that only white Protestants held positions of power. They blatantly pressured elected officials -- including McKinley -- to stay away from Catholics who might wield power and influence.

Rove’s book may be about the past, but he has a clear message for today’s Republicans as well.

It’s hard to miss Rove’s message for 21st century Republicans when he credits McKinley for “recognizing his party must broaden and modernize its appeal” and “rejecting the American Protective Association’s...anti-immigrant appeals.”

The trouble is, today’s Republicans are not listening. There is a temptation here to focus on Trump, because he is a such a polarizing figure.

But really, we need to focus on Republican primary voters here who are determined to support a polarizing figure. Just like the anti-Catholic wing of the Republican Party back in 1896, today’s Trump supporters are not going to be shamed into voting in a more enlightened fashion.

They are downright proud of their backwards views. It confirms their belief that powerful forces despise them. It only proves that they are right (in their minds) to vote for Trump.

Let’s not forget, Republicans created this monster. Marco Rubio is now at war with Trump.

But look what he did a few weeks back. President Obama visited a Baltimore mosque, prompting Rubio and others to dismiss Obama as “divisive.” Huh?

Even normally sensible conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently suggested that there is an obvious person to blame for the Trump phenomenon: President Obama.

Obviously. Why bother with the difficult answer, when there is a much more easy solution.

Please. Republicans. If you won’t listen to Louis C.K. and the Hollywood liberals, at least listen to what your own one-time wonder boy Rove about religious bigots in the old days.

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