Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The night they drove the Grand Old Party down

Seems like the new "presidential" Donald Trump lasted all of five minutes.  When news got out that Cruz and Kasich would tag team on him, he launched into Lyin' Ted and "One for 41" Kasich, bemoaning how a man who has won only one primary could still be in the hunt.  He compared Kasich to a mama's boy, feeling he was entitled to the Presidency.  He also attacked Kasich's eating habits.

Trump is favored to win big in today's round of primaries that focus mostly on the Northeast, essentially his backyard.  It really is hard to fathom why Republican voters continue to gravitate toward the Donald in the wake of his outlandish attacks against his opponents. They have to know he stands little chance in November.

However. the base of the GOP doesn't seem to care, as it has put its faith in this dubious developer who has left nothing but a trail of empty promises behind him.  This is a guy who was going to save Atlantic City, as you might remember.  Yet, he filed for bankruptcy four times, all related to properties he over-leveraged in the ill-fated gambling city.  He may get these properties back thanks to the recent collapse and the cozy relationship he has with Chris Christie.  The same crony politics he accused others of.

Trump has successfully seized on the anger at the base of the GOP and continues to harness it in the last stages of the primary schedule, well beyond the point anyone expected him to still be in the race.  It's like a nightmare you can't escape.

How Trump has gotten to this point has been the subject of continuous speculation.  The Republican Party thought the Tea Party had drank its last sip when Sarah Palin was so badly shamed after the 2014 midterms.  The GOP had regained the Senate on its own, or so it thought, having survived TP bids to oust its ranking senators, like the amusing attempt to boot Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.  But, the TP still scored victories in 2014 and continues to exercise strong influence in Congress, as Paul Ryan's attempt to get a budget passed amply illustrated.  The Teabaggers have moved on from Palin and adopted new leaders to promote their "zero government" approach.

What you have is a core of the conservative electorate that basically is against government in any way, shape or form, and is looking for a person who can break it apart.  Donald Trump is that wrecking ball.

This is a return to antebellum politics when the Southern states fought so hard to weaken federal government and maintain its separate identity.  South Carolina threatened to secede twice before it finally did so in late 1860, feeling that Lincoln would unleash all the federal demons upon it.  We also saw the same ugly Nativism in the Know Nothing Party in the Midwest, which imagined a conspiracy directed by the Vatican to usurp the natural Protestant order in the United States.   Ignorance and fear held sway, as they do again today.

It remains to be seen if the GOP can beat back Trump before the convention, and put up a reasonable candidate for President.  Trump is clearly not "presidential," unable to even maintain the facade of one for any length of time.  Of course, Cruz isn't any better, but then the GOP has no intention of nominating him either, not if it can avoid it anyway.  But, how do they convince the majority of their party that Kasich or some other figure is the better choice?

There are a number of "secret plans" being openly tossed around in the media, including one to draft Gen. James Mattis, the so-called "warrior monk," as a third-party candidate should Trump win the GOP nomination.   One of the Koch brothers even suggested Hillary would be a far better alternative than Trump, forcing her to publicly rebuke Charlie's tentative show of support.  After all, she is trying to project herself as a progressive candidate.

It only serves to show how disjointed the Republican Party has become, which Donald J. Trump has exploited since the start of this campaign, tearing apart a 16-person field that failed to get behind a party candidate until the only choice it had left was Ted Cruz, a face that is very hard to take seriously.  Trump has exposed all the GOP's weaknesses, leaving it an empty shell of itself, making it about as appealing as Atlantic City right now.

The GOP will have a hard time coming out of the convention with any sense of unity.  Trump has morphed it into something new and terrifying that has left everyone aghast, except for his small core of vociferous supporters, who don't even measure up to one-tenth of the national electorate.  July 18 may very well be the night the Tea Party drove the Grand Old Party down!

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