In the wake of Donald Trump becoming the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party, nonsensical rants abound from heretofore logical minds.
George Will, writing just before Trump dominated Indiana and Ted Cruz and John Kasich departed the campaign trail, went so far as to dismiss democracy itself and suggest that primaries are unnecessary steps on the way to choosing a nominee. Allowing a relative handful of convention delegates to decide the contest is just fine, Will suggested.
Will wrote that Republicans should “make the Republican convention a deliberative body rather than one that merely ratifies decisions made elsewhere, some of them six months earlier.” And he added, “A convention’s sovereign duty is to choose a plausible nominee who has a reasonable chance to win, not to passively affirm the will of a mere plurality of voters recorded episodically in a protracted process.”
In other words, take your primaries and shove them. George Will would feel right at home in 1788 under the methods used to choose George Washington as president, with participation from just slightly more than one percent of the population.
At least Kay Ayres, chair of the Highland County GOP and probably as anti-Trump as Mr. Will, had the good graces to accede to the will of the electorate and to acknowledge, “He’s the one people chose.” Local GOP club chair Gary Lewis likewise was gracious despite Trump being far from his first choice.
(By the way, this is a good place to clarify something I wrote last week in comparing Trump with Hillsboro mayor Drew Hastings. I suggested that the “establishment” was against both of them. For sure, the Republican establishment, nationally, has fought tooth and nail against Trump. But regarding the mayor, I did not make it clear enough that I was referring to a generational establishment in Hillsboro that does not care for change, not the local Republican Party establishment, which by and large worked hard and effectively to re-elect Drew last year.)
George Will, along with others like Bill Kristol, Karl Rove, Rich Lowry, almost everyone else at the National Review and a plethora of lesser lights are for now exhibiting for all to see their misconception that the Republican Party belongs to them. As noted here before, democracy is fine with them, as long as it doesn’t get out of control.
Oscar Wilde, the poet, playwright and overall scandalous rascal, once observed that people tend to kill the thing they love most. So jealous are Will, Kristol and company over the fact that someone has stolen their beloved GOP away from them that they are willing to kill it – either by sitting out the election or running a third party candidate – in order to try to rebuild it later in their own image. And they think Donald Trump is the arrogant one.
Amazingly, media reports indicate that the old guard’s first choice to run as a third party candidate is Mitt Romney, who became a conservative just in time to run for president a few years ago and who is the epitome of the old money establishment wing. There is no doubt that rich white Republicans will flock to the polls by the hundreds to support him.
This is an election that is dramatically repositioning not just the Republican Party, but the political landscape in general. While establishment figures of both parties are still aligned by the labels they hold dear – conservative and liberal – an increasing number of modern voters, including younger ones, no longer care about those definitions. The surest way for the GOP to become irrelevant is to pretend that it’s still 1980, while the electorate has moved on. .
Last week, the nation was finally released from Ted Cruz’ delusion that Republicans were rallying around him, and from John Kasich’s very personal spiritual journey which he insisted on sharing with everyone, however uncomfortable it was for the rest of us.
We all hope Gov. Kasich finds whatever inner peace he is seeking, and that by finally dropping out of the presidential race – which seemed to end on the theme, “We all just need a good hug” – he can fully focus on the promise, as he said last Wednesday, “that the Lord will show me the way forward, and fulfill the purpose of my life.” Amen, and good luck.
Donald Trump has tapped into the issues most important to those who, to the surprise of many, have become the GOP’s heart and soul – the economy, fighting terrorism, securing our borders, and demanding that the rest of the free world pay its fair share to defend their respective borders, since the U.S. is trillions of dollars in debt.
The majority of today’s Republican voters apparently care more about action over orthodoxy. While both Republicans and Democrats in Congress for the last 16 years have remained slavishly devoted to catering to their most extreme bases, the resulting stagnation and endless animosity have left the average voter fed up.
Republicans who supported Trump in the primaries know all about his negative attributes, but they see in him something that overrides it all – a leader with a history of accomplishment who they believe will actually get something done, and who will not worry too much about whether he offends someone here and there in the doing of it, whether friend or foe.
Bernie Sanders has tried to bring insurgency to the Democratic Party, but his socialist message is more dangerous than anything Trump has even contemplated. Overall, the Democratic Party remains dedicated to its stale but safe establishment figure, Hillary Clinton.
On the other hand, GOP primary voters have broken the bonds of their institutional dictators. The betting here is that by November, the majority of all voters will follow that lead, albeit not without violent kicking and loud screaming, as is always the case when something new is born.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.