I wasn’t at all surprised when Donald Trump won 13 million votes in the GOP primary. George Wallace won just under 10 million back in 1968. Factor in fifty years of population growth and that says there are probably about 16 million hard core segregationists in the U.S. I was mildly surprised that no one else got more votes than Trump. But then again, it was a very large field of weak and candidates with narrow bases.
However, I was stunned at the feeble effort of the elite to stop Trump. He’s not in line with many of their positions and even worse, not a team player. I fully expected (and predicted) that they would step in at some point and put a stop to Trump’s nonsense, sending his army of great, unwashed followers back to their trailer parks with empty promises and empty pockets, just like they always do. But that hasn’t happened. For the most part, party leaders have gone along with Trump despite his appalling platform. (So far, the greatest resistance has come from the Bushes, which is both surprising and a little frightening.)
Probably party leaders haven’t stopped him because up until this point, they haven’t really wanted to. Tanking the election actually works pretty well for the GOP.
- It keeps the GOP in opposition, and they’re a better opposition party than in-power party. Indeed, they’re absolutely awful when in power. Look at the current list of dumpster fires created by Republican governors— Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Alabama, and of course, Kansas. Their four-part formula: tax cuts for the rich, social legislation that will never stand up to higher court scrutiny, taking short cuts on public spending, and corrupt cronyism, simply doesn’t work. They don’t have any ideas that work, new or otherwise. Anyway, for a conservative preventing change is the ultimate objective.
- Losing the presidency gives them a new bogeywoman that they can use for fundraising, etc. “If you don’t do as we say, children, Big Bad Hillary will creep out from under your beds, take your guns and steal the Supreme Court. Oooooooohhhhh.”
- And best of all, it teaches the great unwashed a lesson. Listen to your betters next time. See what happens when you think for yourself?
Of course, the party can’t get caught tanking, so it’s offered Trump tepid support — a few insincere endorsements, but not funding, co-campaigning, or ground game. However, tanking is a risky game. What if through some miracle of circumstance he were to win? Electing Trump means putting an unstable fool in charge of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, destroying the fabric of alliances that has prevented a catastrophic World War III, putting in place a set of trade policies that would almost certainly create another Great Depression, and igniting a full-blown religious war. That’s kind of a big deal.
Apparently, to this point, it’s a risk the GOP elite have been willing to take. But there are some risks they don’t want. Like losing down-ballot elections. Their opposition party strategy depends on maintaining legislative majorities. That’s not too difficult in the House, thanks to twenty years of dogged gerrymandering by both parties, but the Senate is another matter. The poll numbers are starting to get a little scary for the Republicans, and it’s across the board, not just in the battleground states. Now that’s enough to get the attention of the Kochs, McConnell and Ryan.
So we may now see what we should have seen all along, those who are charged with leading the Republican Party actually having to step up and lead. There are rumblings that the Donald is unstable and has to be replaced at the head of the ticket, and speculation on the rules that would allow that.
I predicted that the elites of the party would never let Trump win. I may be right yet.