Trump’s Greatest Obstacle: His Own Party

trump 3.24

Long ago and far away, Republicans, conservatives and libertarians were united in one singular goal for the 2016 election.

Beat Hillary Clinton.

The only way to reverse the years of leftward drift toward national decay and decline would be to nominate someone, anyone, who could defeat her in November.

Unless, as it turns out, it is Donald Trump.

As the bombastic billionaire dominates the primary process and approaches the magic 1237 delegates, he has famously drawn the loudest, broadest and deepest opposition to a political candidate in American history.  

He has been carpet-bombed by all sides – the political professionals, the Democratic and Republican establishments, and both the leftist and conservative establishments – the networks of think tanks and ideologically doctrinaire organizations.  He has been called everything from a con man to a fascist, love child of Hitler and all the rest.  All as he continues to roll up one victory after another.

But the drumbeat in the GOP is all about how he is not a conservative.  Or he is a fake conservative.  These memes are being pushed by many of the same people who relentlessly attacked the tea party/grassroots for their refusal to get aboard the Romney train in 2012.  And yet they are now doing exactly the same thing.

Indeed, an establishment white knight parachuting into a brokered convention – see John Boehner pushing Paul Ryan – and a third party challenge from a long-standing conservative who can siphon enough votes away from Trump have both been seriously discussed.  Let’s just cut to the bottom line – either move would result in the election of Hillary Clinton.

So here is a question: how many of those howling into the wind about the disaster awaiting mankind if Trump is elected – virtually all of whom who supported Mitt Romney in 2012 – believed that Romney was actually pro-life (after being pro-choice for 60+ years), or actually opposed Obamacare (after proudly passing Romneycare), or actually cared a whit about illegal immigration (for which he prescribed “self-deportation”)?  How many real conservatives have ever described themselves, as Romney did during the campaign, as a “severe conservative”?

But after his failed attempt to change the course of the race by throwing the kitchen sink at Trump, Romney has been reduced to to an unprecedented move: supporting three different candidates in three different races (Rubio-FL, Kasich-OH, Cruz-UT).  This is a sad spectacle – a man obviously desperate to remain relevant, but instead making a fool of himself.  He simply does not realize how little GOP voters want to be reminded of his dreadful campaign four years ago.  Or the failed establishment he represents that has provoked this stockholder revolt.  

The dogs will no longer eat the dog food.

Another establishment icon (though I have never understood why), Lindsey Graham, who received 0% of the vote in his own laughable presidential bid, has aligned with #nevertrump, otherwise known as Ted Cruz, and is now joined by the latest big time establishment loser, Jeb Bush, who has jumped in with his own too little, too late endorsement of the Texas Senator.  

Romney, Graham and Bush are perfect exemplars for a disgraced power elite that is circling the drain.  Exhibit A is this excruciating decision to support a candidate they detest, Sen. Cruz, in full awareness that his appeal is, unlike Trump, extraordinarily narrow.

Cruz may not realize it yet, but endorsements from this trio of establishment icons represent the kiss of death.  He appears unlikely to win more than a single time in the next seven contests, all but one of which are in his weakest area of the country – and Trump’s strongest – the northeast.

Yet and still, normally level-headed conservatives are advancing trumped-up allegations – Cruz has all but accused Trump of being tied to the mob – designed solely to scare the bejesus out of the low-information crowd about the existential threat posed by Trump.  Think along the lines of that famous LBJ ad aimed at Goldwater, pulled after a single airing, featuring a nuclear bomb exploding over the image of a young girl delighting in a field of flowers.  

George Will, as sober – and white – as they come, actually warned that the nomination of Trump would signal that the Republican party had “become”… wait for it…..the party of white people.  Boy, they certainly have never been identified that way before.

But speaking of white people, what about those millions of caucasians (the number is disputed) who famously refused to vote for Romney in 2012, but would need to show up if the GOP has any shot at the White House in 2016?

Those non-voters now form a crucial element of Trump’s base.  And yet, the same Republicans and conservatives who backed the decidedly un-conservative Romney continue to lecture us about Donald Trump not being a conservative, and pulling out all the stops to kneecap him.

This is the same crowd that humiliated itself by begging Trump to sign that embarrassing loyalty pledge…and then proceeded to violate with impunity the very oath they pressured him to sign.

With the very balance of the Supreme Court emerging as an enormous additional factor in this unparalleled presidential campaign, these people now assure us that Trump would botch the nomination, or would nominate a leftist like his sister, who he once lauded.  As if his nominee could possibly be any worse than Hillary’s.

They have refused to condemn the violent professional agitators who are disrupting Trump rallies, instead drawing moral equivalence between the angry mob of Black Lives Matter, Move and associated disrupters, and those they provoke – Trump supporters simply showing up to hear a speech.  

These mercenary extremists threaten freedom of speech by claiming incitement to violence in the midst of large crowds is a legitimate application of the first amendment.  They show up with KKK hoods and swastikas, using foul and provocative language and verbal taunts to foment violence, and yet you hear nary a word of protest from the established order about something that would be immediately condemned if it involved any other candidate.

And as it became immediately clear that the latest terrorist attack in Brussels can only help Trump’s candidacy – one tweet asked: are we now one terrorist attack away from a Trump presidency? –  Cruz has actually attempted to position himself to the right of Trump’s long-vilified but now increasingly popular stance on limiting Muslim immigration, calling for police patrols in Muslim neighborhoods.  Good luck trying to outdo Trump on the ascendant issue of national security, which should draw more support from women who have historically placed security at the top of their list of issues.

But no matter, because it is clear that this is not about ideological purity.  And apparently it is not even about beating Hillary.  It is about control of the party and the movement.

Many of these people would rather lose the election and take down Donald Trump than live with him.  Think of how extraordinary that is, coming from a party that’s been claiming for as long as we can remember that they want to expand their base and be the big tent.

Codicil: As long as that doesn’t happen because of Donald Trump.  Because, you know, he’s a creten.  He is just so declasse.  Bad for the brand – as if they even have a brand beyond the party of Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce.  Lots of votes to be had there.

Now, it’s not as if some of the opposition isn’t understandable, even beyond Trump’s personality.  The current snapshot of the electorate shows Hillary beating Trump decisively.  But lest we forget, Michael Dukakis was ahead of Bush 41 by double digits in 1988, and Jimmy Carter had a huge lead on Ronald Reagan in 1980, both later in the race than now, and we all know how those races ended.  And we have never seen a candidate more willing than Trump to rip the opponent to shreds.

No doubt Trump has work to do.  He needs to put meat on the bones by unveiling a team of prospective advisors and cabinet members, and should seriously consider someone like John Kasich as a running mate to sooth the savage establishment beast, just as Reagan did in picking Bush for VP in 1980. And he should knock off the decidedly unpresidential twitter insult fests.

But no matter what he does, some Republicans have transparently hinted that they would rather have Hillary, because at least she won’t shake the establishment foundation to its core.  Yes, the same people who have made a living opposing Barack Obama are fine with Hillary…if it means stopping Trump.

But there is little solace for these people even if Trump loses in November, for once he wins the nomination, they realize they will have lost control of the party whether Trump is elected president or not. Damned if he wins – Trump would control the party.  And damned if he loses – all that would be left is a party with thoroughly rejected leadership, and evacuated of its most passionate followers.  The power elite’s days of wine and roses, of fiddling while Rome burned, will soon be relegated to the ash heap of history.

But they will not go softly into the night, so make no mistake.  It is not blacks or hispanics or women who would be most responsible for Hillary Clinton being elected President of the United States.  

It is the Republican party.

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