When I reread this post on November 9th, I’ll probably let off a little chuckle as I close my laptop lid and think to myself what a Rand Paul or Bernie Sanders Presidency would have looked like. You can’t seem to find a news outlet this week without seeing Donald Trump’s name advertised in headlines for views or clicks.
Listening to the candidates, however, is like hearing a battle cry for survival against the onslaught that is Donald J. Trump.
Republican or Democrat, left or right, the presidential campaign focus has been to discredit Trump all the while steering his voters towards a mainstream candidate. And while I’m no political consultant, I can’t imagine Trump supporters switching gear and voting for Ted Cruz or, god forbid, Hillary Clinton.
With candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio (effectively) out of the race, Republicans and Democrats have some serious reorganizing to do before Trump calls it quits.
Let’s assume, based on poll data, that Trump still represents roughly 40% of the Republican voting block. That also leaves 60% of the conservative voting block that might swing Trump’s way come election day… or not.
Assuming Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic nomination (and in all likelihood, she will), she should have no problem bringing over just enough Bernie Sanders supporters if she sells her campaign with: “You need to vote for me so Trump doesn’t win.”
The 2016 Presidential Election effectively becomes a voter turnout battle. Trump could easily get his base to show up to voting booths but the real question is whether or not he can appeal to real conservative voters. I think he can’t.
His 40 to 50% base is hardly enough to win a national election and, in all reality, Hillary Clinton can motivate Democratic voters to get to voting polls better than Trump can convince the remaining 60% of Republicans to vote for him come election day. Why? Because Trump is not a true conservative.
More importantly, whether Hillary Clinton wins or not, a Trump victory or defeat means the Republican Party is dead.
Never mind his divisive speeches and unprofessional demeanor – the Republican Party, since the beginnings of the so-called “Ron Paul Revolution” (derived from the failures of the Bush Administration), has been unable to define itself under one political ideology.
The lack of a philosophical banner under which party members can rally behind is the fundamental reason why the Party is so split and prone to failure. And Trump isn’t helping.
Take one of his responses on Edward Snowden, for instance:
Right. They’re spying against us. Edward Snowden has caused us tremendous problems. Edward Snowden has been, you know, you have the two views on Snowden, obviously: You have, he’s wonderful, and you have he’s horrible. I’m in the horrible category. He’s caused us tremendous problems with trust, with everything about, you know, when they’re showing, Merkel’s cellphone has been spied on, and are – Now, they’re doing it to us, and other countries certainly are doing it to us, and but what I think what he did, I think it was a tremendous, a tremendous disservice to the United States. I think and I think it’s amazing that we can’t get him back.
Trump’s broken, choppy English stymied by the short catchy phrases like “horrible” and “tremendous” are indicative of a political strategy aimed to capture the uneducated, unaware, or just plain stupid. Nowhere in his response was he able to string one, coherent sentence together. Consequently, your brain cannot follow his train of thought and all you’re left with is word association – Edward Snowden = horrible, tremendous problems.
Some people believe him because, well, he talks like them. Nonetheless, there are still many Republicans and conservatives who don’t see Snowden as “horrible” and instead remain skeptical about state surveillance and big government spying on American citizens.
Republicans can’t seem to agree on a majority of issues. Can government be small and tax less while spending more on the military than an industrialized nation’s GDP?
Can we keep government out of your backyard but legislate morality in your home at the same time?
Are bail-outs a bad thing unless a Republican President does it?
Does an obsession over gay marriage and abortion fix any of our country’s major problems like failing infrastructure, inflation, or stability in the Middle East?
These core contradictions are facilitating the rise of Donald Trump with a plurality of Republicans because he taps into the fringe of white, Anglo-Saxon privilege. The other half of the Republican Party is still wondering whether or not Mike can marry Jim, if Obama is actually Muslim, and why Starbucks seasonal cups don’t have Christmas tree images on them.
Unless libertarians and true conservatives split to form their own, powerful political party, small government conservatism is dead and the GOP as we know it has zero chance of reviving the old Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan conservative principles that kept the Party unified and principled (the same principles that offered constructive policy recommendations to improve the nation).
The sad truth remains that Americans better understand where Democrats stand than they do Republicans. Unlike their GOP counterparts, Democrats aren’t bashful about admitting to big government solutions for social and economic problems – and their solutions are, unlike the GOP, streamlined across the party.
Republicans have completely lost sight of what it means to be a true conservative and, consequently, Donald Trump has capitalized on this ignorance. And quite frankly, voting for a President simply because he “says what he means” or “you honestly believe that he’s telling the truth” just isn’t good enough when infrastructure is falling apart and income inequality is slowly deteriorating the American social fabric (and that’s not to say that more government is the answer to this issue).
A candidate saying what he means isn’t the same as understanding what he’s saying. Believing that any political candidate is telling the truth is nothing short of ultra-naivety. The fracture is already there – it’s only a matter of time before the Republican Party splits, withdraws, or crumbles altogether.