Tag Archives: Republican Party

Trump Can’t Win, Right?

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Let’s face it, by any scientific measure or logical reasoning, Clinton should easily thrash Trump in the general election; and she probably will. The evidence presented by current polls, political pundits, television talking-heads and those experienced in national elections, persuasively make the case that Trump is on track to suffer the worse electoral drubbing of a Republican nominee, since Barry Goldwater did at the hands of Lyndon Johnson in 1964.  (Johnson won 61% of the popular vote and 486 electoral votes to Goldwater’s 52.) The only demographic poll that Trump seems to be leading in is among poorly educated, ignorant, red-neck white men. And even if you add in those who supported Ted Cruz, who has been described as a talking snake masquerading as a human being, it would not be enough to push Trump over the top.  

For the experts, the first indication of an impending catastrophic political earthquake that will destroy the Trump Train (and the Republican Party along with it) is that all the animals (aka – the political elite of the Republican Party) are running for the hills. Right before our eyes, the Republican Party is coming apart at the seams. The entire Bush family, House Speaker Paul Ryan, a number of sitting governors, numerous senators and members of Congress have announced their ominous opposition to the nominee that millions of Republican voters have selected. Not to mention the coup de grace of disapproval showered on Trump by none other than the esteemed, effete Mitt Romney.

The theory put forth by the political experts is that by the end of the campaign, the voters will come to see that Trump is one of the least qualified – by experience, temperament and talent – to ever run for president and “come to their senses” by rejecting Trump.   

(In the past couple of days this organized Republican establishment resistance to Trump seems to be collapsing; not because they want Trump, but because they fear he might actually win.)

Theories Can be Flawed

There is only one problem with this theory. When Trump exhibited the audacity to announce his candidacy for president last June, the political pundits giggled, scoffed and suggested that his effort was no more than an ego trip, intended only as a commercial for the Trump brand. (And initially it probably was.) Trump was the 17th Republican candidate to enter the fray and his poll ranking was at barely one percent. Neither the media nor the gaggle of other candidates took Trump seriously. And why should they? There was nothing in Trump’s background to indicate that he was the least bit qualified to be taken seriously as a candidate for president.

We all know the rest of the story. Totally contrary to the conventional wisdom of the experts, Trump bulldozed his way through the primaries, knocking off other candidates (who were really too timid to attack him) one by one until he was the last man standing. Along the way Trump garnered more votes than any Republican candidate in history and ignited revitalized interest in the Republican Party by attracting disaffected Democrats and independent voters.

The media and his opponents focused on the worst of Trump; his crude, boorish, bombastic attacks on fellow candidates and even members of the media. The media gave Trump millions of dollars in free air time that allowed him to put forth what the establishment experts all derided as naive childishly simplistic solutions to highly complex problems. The free media coverage provided Trump was driven by exactly the same motivation that causes news networks to break away from regular programming to dramatically follow a police chase from a helicopter. The media knows that more people will watch coverage of a potential car crash or police shootout than will stay glued to a discussion of educational policies. For the media, Trump seemed like an accident waiting to happen and they wanted to be there to cover it when he crashed and burned. What the media and other candidates did not understand was that Trump was taking them for a ride. Regardless of whether it was a masterfully planned strategy on his part or (more likely) that he had stumbled on an exposed nerve of sentiment that resonated with voters, Trump continued to rise in the polls.

The Republicans recognized, and the media harped on the “conservative base” of the Party being frustrated and angry with the “establishment,” but they all missed the fact that this anger and frustration was felt all across the voter spectrum. As evidenced by the Sanders surge against Clinton in the Democratic primaries, it was not just the core Republican conservatives who were frustrated by failed political leadership and dysfunctional government; liberals, moderates, young, old, black, white and Latino were all exasperated with politicians and government in one way or another. This is the real “base” that Trump tapped into and this drove him to the nomination that everyone said would never happen.

Trump’s Path to Victory      

Trump, unlike any other politician – Republican or Democratic – is willing to turn things upside down and search for a new and different approach to old problems. He has gone where others fear to tread. Trump may not be able to find the right answers, but his approach can be beguiling to millions of voters – in both parties – who are fed-up and frustrated with traditional politicians who keep chasing their tails with the same old arguments and tired solutions that do nothing but put the problem off to the next election. Trump’s strength is that he is not identified as “one of them.”

There is another phenomena that may be at work here. People who do not drive a pick-up truck with a gun rack in the back or don’t have a shotgun under their bed, may not want to admit publicly that they are secret Trump supporters. In most circles it is still not proper etiquette to acknowledge support for Trump. It is estimated by some that there are millions of frustrated voters who will only support Trump in the place that matters most, in the secrecy of the voting booth. 

Trump’s Secret Weapon

In truth – and what the experts discount – is that the best thing Trump has going for him in the election is Hillary Clinton. In reality, Hillary Clinton is probably the only Democratic candidate that Trump could beat. As strange as it may seem, the election may be more for Trump to lose, than it is for Clinton to win. Clinton is the epitome of the establishment. She represents all that is frustrating for voters. Unlike Trump, people know what they will get with Hillary, but what they will get from her may not be what they want. Just consider how well a 74 year old Socialist has done against Clinton in her own Party. This election may boil down to the frustration vote going for Trump and the fatigue vote going against Clinton.

Still, the odds are strong that Trump will lose the election, and he probably should, but if he wins, the blame will not fall on those who vote for him, but on the establishment politicians of both the Republican and Democratic Parties who have failed and frustrated voters to the point that voting for Trump is seen as the best option.

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The Republican Party Establishment Has Only Themselves to Blame for the Rise of Trump

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Barring an event as equally unfathomable, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 2016. Is that strange or what? And yet, with a little bit of Monday morning quarterbacking, we should not be surprised at all by the rise of Trump. (Especially when you consider that Trump’s chief establishment rival, Ted Cruz has a personality as warm as a cadaver buried in a snow-bank.)

The strategy and tactics of the Republican Party have been preparing the way for the coming of Trump for decades. And now that Judgment Day is here, it is to be determined if Trump is the salvation or the devastation of the Grand Old Party. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican presidential nominee and Trump may be the last one. Trump has gone from joke to juggernaut, but he did not instigate the weakening of the Republican establishment that allowed this to happen. He is rather the beneficiary of a dubious Republican strategy employed since the time of Ronald Reagan.

Much like global warming, the evolving changes brought on by the actions (or lack thereof) of the Republican Party over the past few decades has triggered a momentum of destructive change that may now have become irreversible.

America’s Enemy

Since the time of Reagan, Republicans have campaigned on the premise that the mortal enemy of America is its own government. Ronald Reagan argued, “The government is not the solution, it is the problem.” The mantra of the Republican Party has been that government, any government, is bad – even evil – and any hint at the expansion of government is a sinister conspiracy against the very concept of freedom that is to be resisted as if it were a plague released on the people. (It should be noted that during the Reagan era the government doubled in size and the national debt tripled.)  

This Republican single-minded, dogmatic focus on the evils of government ignores the history of Americans attitude toward their government. For the first 200 years of the Republic, Americans were deeply suspicious of government, but they accepted its necessity. The issue debated was not how to destroy government, but how to make it more responsive to the needs of the people. The focus and tone of the debate began to shift to a pure anti-government stance when the Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater in 1964. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 was taken as a validation of the effectiveness of an anti-government election strategy; but it can and has gone too far.  Donald Trump is the result of the modern Republican Party leaders overplaying their anti-government stance with over-heated rhetoric and under delivered promises.

Building the Base

The leaders of the Republican Party believed that a relentless use of an anti-government stratagem would open a clear path to winning and power; and they were right. Over the past 35 years the anti-government philosophies of the Republican Party has attracted a large, loyal and cohesive “base” of followers and believers. This “base” of the Party accepted the Republican mindset of animosity toward government in much the same way that devout Catholics accept the infallibility of the Pope.  

Appealing to the natural skepticism that Americans have toward government has proved to be an effective strategy for the Republican Party. After all, the majority of state governors are Republican; Republicans have their largest majority in Congress since 1928 and they have control of the Senate. The problem is that a majority of those voters who identify themselves as Republicans have become frustrated by the Republican establishment’s failure to deliver on their promises of a smaller, less intrusive federal government. With the Republicans in charge, nothing has changed; indeed, the government has become more intrusive, has increased in size and the national debt has burgeoned.

Revolt of the Base

The failure of elected Republicans to deliver on promises of smaller, less intrusive government has fertilized frustration among the Party base; triggering such movements as the “Tea Party” and other groups expressing their exasperation with the Republican establishment. This revolt of the base has led to an unraveling of the Republican Party from within. Even beyond its base of supporters, the Republican Party establishment has generally alienated the mass of voters who lean Republican, while specifically offending minority groups. As a result, the Republican Party has generally come to be viewed as both negative and duplicitous. The Party is seen as wanting to “take back and go back,” rather than move forward. The Republican Party is now viewed as more obstructionist than constructionist and this is compounded by often seeming to be two-faced.

The Republican establishment denounces “crony capitalism,” but at the same time caters to (and is funded by) the wealthy and narrow business interests. For the past eight years, Republicans in Congress have created an environment of political dysfunction by opposing rather than proposing and then attempt to win elections by railing against this paralysis of government. Arguing that government is evil, the Republicans emasculate the capacity of the government to perform and then disparage the government as inept, bungling and corrupt. The Republican establishment calls for a broad-based Party, while seeking to limit voting rights and denigrating virtually every minority in the country. And at the same time, failing to recognize that the very “base” of the Party that they depend upon for their power is becoming a dissatisfied minority.

The Coming of Trump

Along comes Trump. Trump’s appeal is to those of the Republican base who have become disillusioned and frustrated by the establishment’s failure to live-up to their own stated anti-government principles. Millions of Republican voters have sent a clear message to the Party establishment that, “we are mad as hell and won’t take this anymore.” It is not that these Republicans have lost faith in their beliefs, but that they have lost faith in the beliefs of the Republican establishment and the candidates the Party puts forward.

Revealing is the Republican establishment’s reaction to the presumed nomination of Trump as the Party’s standard-bearer in the presidential election. The general repudiation of Trump clearly shows that the Republican establishment is more interested in the power of the Party, than in the power of the people in the Party. In the end, the exposure of the establishment’s hypocrisy of putting power over principle could do more long term damage to the Republican Party than Trump ever could.

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The Dark Secret That Fueled Trump’s Political Rise

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From any rational perspective it is incongruous that a crude, flamboyant, egocentric real estate tycoon and reality-show host could stand any chance of being nominated, let alone elected president of the United States. If this scenario were proposed as a reality-show for television, it would be rejected as too implausible.  And yet, that is what we are witnessing. 

What is so surprising and fearful for many is that Trump has used his ostentatious persona to dominate the 2016 election cycle and become the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. What was once considered a joke is now considered a serious threat. The big-wigs of the Republican establishment are in full, fearful panic-mode over the possibility of Trump winning the Party’s nomination for president. This situation puts the Republican establishment in a difficult position, because they have been forced to choose between the feelings of fear or loathing; and when given that choice, they have embraced loathing.

Fearing Trump more than the Zika virus, the Republican establishment has embraced Ted Cruz, a man they universally despise and loath, as their preferred candidate for the nomination. This despite an anonymous poll of all 100 U.S. Senators last year that discovered all except one (Cruz) were steadfastly against the idea of Cruz becoming president; it seems his Senate colleagues universally loath him for both his abrasive personality and rigidly dogmatic, self-serving attitudes. One Republican Senate colleague was quoted as saying, “The word “hypocrite” was invented, just to be able to describe Ted Cruz.” For the vast majority of the Republican establishment, supporting Cruz is akin to drinking a full bottle of feces-flavored castor oil, but they gulp it down out of fear of Trump. The Republican leaders have become so paranoid about Trump’s potential nomination they have taken to saying, “It’s better to lose with Cruz, than it is to win with Trump.”

The Secret to Trump’s Rise

If the political rise of Trump is so outrageous and absurd to so many, what is the secret to his success? Trump has been perceptive enough to tap into a secret that has been known by humorists and satirists for centuries. Just as comedians and satirists use this secret to entertain their audiences, Trump uses the secret to make a point and connect with voters.

Just so long as there is an element of truth in the sarcasm, not matter how outrageous or offensive it may be, it can not only trigger a laugh, but it can also bring home a specific point. It is this underlying truth in sarcasm that touches the feelings of the audience and allows them to relate to the “humor” and the point being made that gives sarcasm credibility. Trump seems to understand this and has used this technique to relate to voters. And this is the reason the Republican leaders are crying now, rather than laughing.

Sarcasm has long been considered by humorists and social critics to be the most effective tool to put a spotlight on raw social issues and expose the foibles of the elite to the masses. That is the reason why Saturday Night Live has been so popular for over 40 years. It is the reason why television shows such as Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, The Family Guy and The Simpsons have been so successful with the masses. Trump, better than any professional politician (most of whom believe they are the elite) recognizes the secret of sarcasm and makes it central to his campaign.   

When you think of Jeb Bush, do you think of a son of a president, a successful businessman and two-time governor of Florida or do you think of “low-energy Bush?” When you think of Marko Rubio, do you think of a polished 44 year old Senator and bright shining star of the Republican Party or do you think of “little Marko?” When you think of Ted Cruz, do you think of an extremely intelligent, driven and experienced individual or do you think of “Lyin’ Ted?” When Mitt Romney was out on the stump attacking Trump, did you think of him as the wise sage of the Republican Party, or did you see the “choke-artist” who blew the 2012 election?

When you think about it, Bush did give off an aura of low energy. When you think about it, Rubio did seem like the little kid on the block, jumping up and down trying to get the attention of the older guys. When you look at Cruz giving one of his debater-like speeches, that little smirk on his face just makes it look like he is lying. And there is no doubt that Romney choked in 2012.

Trump seemed to innately recognize that by adopting the comedic techniques of sarcastic humor and mocking style against his opponents, he would be more successful than if he challenged them straight-up on the issues. The Republican establishment (and almost all others) considered it to be a joke when Trump announced his campaign. But to Trump’s credit, he turned his weakness as a traditional candidate into a strength and the joke was on the Republican establishment. It may be a hollow way to approach running for president and is certainly against all the “rules” for how a campaign should be conducted, but it has worked so far for Trump. Trump has used sarcasm and mocking to expose issues other politicians would just as soon duck, and he has brought to light the elitist tendencies of the Republican establishment. This is the secret that has put Trump at the top of the polls and caused the leaders of the Republican establishment have their underwear in knots.

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