Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Donald Trump Is Not a Party of One

A few days ago, a New Hampshire man engaged in an anti-Obama, anti-Muslim rant at a Donald Trump appearance. Trump made no effort to correct the man.

And why should he? It was Trump himself who provided a lot of fuel to the birther movement fire from the beginning of President Obama’s time in office. And it’s morons who still insist that Obama is a Muslim and was born in Kenya who continue to bolster Trump in the polls. 

Donald Trump still leads the GOP race. One poll (NBC) has Trump ahead at 29% of Republican voters. After that comes Ben Carson (14%)  and Carly Fiorina (11%). Another poll  (CNN) has Trump at 24% with Fiorina and Carson switched at 15% and 14% respectively.  Meanwhile, the players in the Republican field who were supposed to be the actual big story of this campaign---Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker*—are all trailing in single digits.  

*Alas, Scotty, you heartless bastard, we hardly knew ye. Monday, Scott Walker ended his campaign for President due to a lack of funds. That and also an inability to out-crazy Donald Trump.

So what does any of this now have to do with what’s going to happen next year when the actual primaries kick off? In one sense, this is much ado about nothing. I can’t imagine any scenario where Trump, Carson or Fiorina will actually win enough primaries…if they win any primaries at all…to take the GOP nomination.

But there is a lot of damage being done right now to the Republican chances of taking about the White House come November 2016. It’s not just the toxic nature of Trump comments and actions that are poisoning the GOP well but the fact that this is a party where the rank and file are embracing that toxicity. Even if Jeb Bush and company can distance themselves from the carnival spectacle of Cirque de Trump, they’re still representing a party of which a third actually embraced what this nut job was selling.

In other words, the GOP cannot write off Donald Trump as a lone voice when there are a large number of people in the party who echo that voice. Trump is not a party of one.

Let’s say, I don’t know, Marco Rubio survives all of this and nabs the nomination. Even if he talks the talk and walks the walk that could bring Latinos in line with his campaign, those same Latinos can also see that a good chunk of Marco’s party doesn’t share in his magnanimous view of Latinos.

And not just Latinos but Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants can also see that no matter what one person says, there’s a strong anti-immigrant mood in the Republican Party. 

Of course, the GOP has only itself to blame for this toxic meltdown of their party. For years, Republican leaders have stoked the fire of anger in their base of support. Oddly enough, what GOP voters were angry about did not necessarily align with what GOP politicians were looking to do.

For example, consider gun rights. Every election cycle, voters are worked up in a frenzy that Obama and his ilk are coming any moment now to take their guns. Meanwhile, any actual legislation to limit access to guns or curb gun violence gets nowhere in Congress.

Or take health care reform. The drum beat continues on that Obamacare is the ultimate evil and must be repealed; the base of GOP voters are enraged to think that Obama and the liberal Democrats are taking away their freedom so they vote for people who promise to vote to repeal Obamacare. Yet no vote has actually accomplished that. Yeah, a GOP congressperson can truthfully tell his constituents that he voted to repeal Obamacare but with no actual concern that it will actually happen.

Or consider the extreme right wing of the GOP, the Tea Party types, who think taxes are too high and the government is all up in their business. Meanwhile, GOP leaders are seeking less taxes and less government regulation but not  for the grass roots of the Tea Party movement but for the richest and most well off.

So what happens when your voting base gets riled up year after year but nothing changes? That base is going to grab hold of someone they think is listening and might really do what they want to do. Trump, not playing by the rule book of a Presidential candidate, is that choice.

No, Donald Trump will not be the GOP nominee. And if by some freakish fluke of fate he does get the nomination, he will not win the Presidency. But whoever does wind up leading the Republican Party will have to answer for that party, the one that to a significant degree embraced Donald Trump and his rhetoric. The damage is done and it’s been a long time in coming.  Again, Trump is a not a party of one. At least a third of the GOP says otherwise.

Everyone, be good to one another. I'll be back with another post tomorrow.


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