Donald Trump might not be the presidential frontrunner the GOP establishment wants, but he most certainly is the candidate they deserve. In fact, based on the kind of politics the GOP has been involved in for the last eight years, and in some cases decades, I’d say Trump perfectly embodies their political practices. This is borne out in the fact that he’s been able to steal a large portion of their base and take a commanding lead in virtually every national poll of GOP voters, much to the dismay of the GOP establishment and many of my moderate conservative friends.
That’s right, after all these years of blogging about how messed up the GOP is, I still have a few moderate Republican friends left, and sometimes they’re still willing to talk to me about politics. In fact this summer, when I posted an article about how I considered Trump, among other things, to be proof that the party was in serious trouble, several of them told me I was overblowing the multiple-bankruptcy-declaring frontrunner’s impact on the party. Now, with about one week to go until primary voters start casting ballots, these same people are starting to freak out that Trump might become their party’s nominee. Some of them now view Trump as someone who has hijacked the party’s base or who is defacing the party’s brand. To that I say, you can’t hijack the willing and he isn’t defacing anything. He’s revealing the true face of the party in several crucial ways, and I love him for it.
- For starters, Trump is proof, beyond any doubt, that racism and bigotry have been part of the GOP’s playbook for decades. Some GOPers seem to truly be shocked by how many base supporters would respond so positively to Trump’s blatantly racist, xenophobic and bigoted statements and policy proposals. But they are forgetting this has been their party’s bread and butter ever since it adopted the Southern Strategy in the late 60’s to court white southerns. While I would never say that all Republicans are racist, I will say, as many others have said before, most racists are Republicans. The GOP has made them feel at home by whistling racist tunes, but now moderates and the establishment are mad that Trump has come along and started singing that same song at the top of his lungs and taken so many of their base supporters with his hateful tune.
- Trump is rude, bullying and disrespectful and the GOP base has been taught to confuse that with toughness. This man has insulted just about anyone and everyone who has not come out and supported him, including other Republicans like John McCain, who Trump said wasn’t a good soldier because he got caught and held as a POW. More so than even his frequently racist remarks, it has been his rudeness that has caused many, myself included, to think this guy would fade out. But we have forgotten that the GOP has been giving their base red meat for years by way of the unprecedented levels of disrespect they have shown our current president. So yeah, it makes sense that many GOP voters would not be turned off by Trumps lack of civility and not view it as a disqualifying character trait.
- Sorry to say it, but the Republican base is not the smartest collection of people on the planet. In fact, many might not even be as smart as a 4th grader, which might explain why they don’t have a problem supporting a man who speaks to them at a 4th grade level. “I’m going to make America great. I’m going to bring great jobs back and making amazing trade deals.” Brilliant! Why didn’t anyone else think of that? But again, that the GOP base could so easily be taken in by someone who is seemingly unaware of the fact that words don’t have to always be used in their superlative form, isn’t an accident. It’s the result of years of fact-free politics being practiced by the GOP establishment. Simply look at the climate change “debate” in which the GOP is literally the only major organized group on the planet who has managed to find the facts inconclusive. So yeah, sorry if I find something humorous about watching Trump haters in the GOP get frustrated because they can’t reach his supporters with factual information about Trump. They have taught their base how to ignore facts and disregard arguments and messengers who challenge their feelings, beliefs and opinions very well.
- Along with many in the base operating in a fact-free, spin zone, they are also difficult to reach for the GOP establishment because the GOP has also taught them how to be disingenuous. Remember how the GOP said Obama wasn’t experienced enough when he first ran in 2008? Well, the GOP quickly forgot about that argument when McCain added Sarah Palin to his ticket and said he wanted the most dangerously unqualified candidate in history to be next in line for the presidency. And guess what? The GOP went along with him. Also, remember how Obama wasn’t an American because some believed his American mother gave birth to him outside of the US (which wasn’t true), well now the GOP has Ted Cruz, who was born outside the country. However, it didn’t become an issue until Trump started losing ground to him in the polls. Selective-birtherism aside, the GOP base is full of people who long ago did away with the notion of principles. All they know is what they want and they’ll completely flip on any issue if they think it will benefit their side.
- The GOP base has been trained to be hyper-reactive and fearful. Whether it’s Ebola, which they seemed to really believe was a threat to human existence for about a week during the 2014 election cycle, or making up issues out of nothing, such as the need to deal with the nonexistent issue of voter fraud, the GOP base is primed to go from not caring about an issue one day to thinking that same issue is and always has been at the root of any and all problems the next. Trump knows this and perfectly showed how to exploit it in the wake to the Paris shootings by claiming our refugee screening process was seriously broken and needed to be fixed with racist policies, despite having no evidence to support such a claim.
As much as moderate and establishment conservatives have tried to deny that this is what their party’s base is like, Trump is forcing them to acknowledge it, and the chickens are finally coming home to roost. The GOP created, fed and housed a dangerous monster for years, and were happy to keep doing so, so long as they had control over it. But now Trump has unleashed their beast and the GOP establishment is facing the very real risk that a large portion of its racist, uneducated, anti-intellectual, quick-to-fright base will turn on its creator. And I, for one, am not the slightest bit sad to see it happen.
SideBar: If I thought there was any chance in hell that the demographics of this country could allow someone like Trump to get elected, I would be writing a very different article about the man. Instead, I am reveling in the chaos Trump is causing because I believe it’s a long needed realignment of our politics that will move the middle way to the left.