It’s historic. It’s miraculous! – almost a rapture. The long-time dream of the Rodney King Foundation (i.e.,“Can’t we all just get along?”) is finally being realized. What a happy day! After years of bitter enmity and division, Republicans and Democrats have at last come together in a glorious, new common purpose: Donald Trump must be stopped.
Liberal Democrats (a redundancy) and moderate Republicans (an oxymoron) are throwing in the proverbial kitchen sink in a last-ditch effort to stop this über-rich upstart from grabbing the Republican presidential nomination and destroying the country. No effort can be spared to keep him from deforming the entire political landscape, as we know it. Politicians of both parties stoutly declare that they want only to “save the country” (and possibly the world) from the ruin that will result if this bombastic poseur is allowed to insult his way to the nation’s highest office.
The parties, however, do operate from somewhat different… ah, motivations, shall we say. Republican pooh-bahs are still scratching their heads over Mr. Trump’s appeal to Republican voters. They simply can’t understand why young people, blue-haired grandmas, housewives, moms, working stiffs, cops, soldiers, CEOs, doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs want this guy who makes outrageous statements, turns the air blue, promises to “kick the @#$&^” out of enemies who would hurt us, and vows to “make America great again.” For heaven’s sake, even evangelical Christians are supporting him. Republican silver foxes just can’t figure it.
For Democrats, though, the motivating factor is quite pure: it is Fear. Terror! They understand Donald Trump’s appeal very well. They know exactly why voters – including many of theirs – are buying his message. Mr. Obama did his work well. He said we’re not so hot, and he set out to prove it. National pride, economy and military capability are in the toilet. (Good job, Big O!) A child can see – indeed, many do – that Mr. Trump offers a credible promise to blast the economy loose and pull the country out of the “slough of despond” it has wallowed in for eight years.
Mr. Trump looks like he might actually do something, while Democrats… well, they do offer a lot more: i.e., more taxes, more government, more crushing regulations, more costly energy, more incompetence in foreign affairs, and more ruin by (possibly nuclear-armed) brigands running wild all over the world. Both Democratic candidates promise loads of free stuff, but only college kiddies still in rompers, who haven’t yet labored for a paycheck, could fail to see that somebody will have to pay the bill – and they will probably be the ones.
Beyond these significant policy-differentials, Democrat voters do get to choose from an enviable slate of candidates: (1) a superannuated retro-socialist (who probably actually knew Karl Marx); and (2) a strident, wigged-out grandma whose main credential is arguably the worst stewardship of the Department of State in our history – not to mention her marriage to our most libertine president ever. (And that’s really saying something!) Besides all that, Dems’ likely nominee – the former Secretary of State – faces possible indictment for careless handling of the country’s most secret information by having used a private, unprotected e-mail server that could easily have been penetrated by a reasonably competent ninth-grader. (Hello! Is anyone investigating all those dangerous ninth-graders in the country? Really, where is the FBI when you really need it?)
Is it any wonder that Democrats fear a strong, outspoken business executive who bestrides the national stage with great confidence and vows to “get it done”? They know that neither of their candidates can possibly stand up to him. Unless they can unhorse him, they’ve had it. It’s their only hope.
Republican establishment-types profess grave concern about the general election, too. They cite polls showing Mr. Trump losing to either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, but I doubt if most of them really believe those polls. My guess is that what they really fear is not that Mr. Trump might lose, but that he might win. That would be disastrous, professionally, for the GOP establishment. It would completely upset their orderly political world, in which they generally play the role of gentlemanly loser. Their positions of influence would evaporate, as Mr. Trump’s army of brand-new managers and political operatives swarms in to take over administration of the country, as well as the reins of the party. The “tsunami” of a Trump victory would wreck many political careers.
Thus, as is so often true in these matters, the key factor is money. Many GOP “strategists” have made a very nice living during the Obama era by appealing to the party’s base for funds to “fight” against the liberal ruin of the nation. “Give us the money so we can win the Congress,” they said. “We’ll stop Obama and his spending.” They failed to do it, but now they’re back with a new promise: “Give us more money so we can win the White House. Then we’ll really do it…”
But Republican voters have heard this song before, and they’re wise to it. They see that establishment pols like Senator Mitch McConnell have done little to stop Mr. Obama’s big spending and extra-Constitutional activities, and they doubt that a president drawn from the GOP’s inner circle would do any better. The hoi polloi are onto the fact that both parties are addicted to bigger and bigger government – differing only in how they would spend the boodle – so they’re looking to dump the whole GOP apparatus. They want results, and they think this much-married billionaire – he of the big hair and the big mouth – might produce. Nothing else has worked up to now, so why not try something new?
GOP insiders are in full panic-mode because Mr. Trump’s election will mean bye-bye to all those cushy RNC jobs, network-news gigs, and high government posts. Farewell to the fawning blond info-babes; sayonara to all the dollars flowing in to fund their heroic efforts to “turn things around.” (Oh, the humanity…!) Follow the money. It’s usually where the truth lies.
Methods used by the two parties in their stop-Trump efforts differ greatly, of course. Democrats own the media, so they hope a steady drumbeat of damaging reports – sometimes to the very edge of outright slander – from their media-allies will mortally wound Mr. Trump and render him unacceptable to his own party. At this writing, Mr. Trump has been accused of being spawn of the Devil, a virtual clone of Hitler, a corporate pirate, brigand, poltroon, hater of women, and a really mean guy. (Not a comprehensive list.) The only thing he hasn’t been accused of yet is gun-running, drug-trafficking or white-slavery – but the campaign is still young. I have no doubt that “research” on these is progressing apace.
During this veritable blizzard of media doo-doo, the true villainy of Mrs. Clinton’s possible disclosure of state secrets on a private, unprotected computer-server has been conveniently forgotten. The media have largely bought the tale that this whole security-thing is just another attack by the “vast right-wing conspiracy” – Mrs. Clinton’s own memorable term – on her and her noble family. “There was no classified information,” she insists. It’s nothing. The FBI’s “investigation” grinds slowly on, but I expect that Attorney General Loretta Lynch will ultimately decline to indict Mrs. Clinton because she will see “no evidence of criminal intent” – as if “not meaning” to commit a crime can let you skate on trivialities like mishandling and possibly compromising sensitive information. (Try explaining that you really didn’t intend to speed the next time a cop pulls you over…)
The jury is still out on whether the Dems’ media-blitz on Mr. Trump will succeed. It is probably having some effect – especially among middle-of-the-road voters who desperately want an alternative to the corrupt Mrs. Clinton or the “Mad Hatter” Bernie Sanders, but don’t know if Mr. Trump can be it.
Republicans don’t own the media, but they do enjoy some access in this case because many reporters are riding the Get Trump Bandwagon. Liberal editors love to publish reports of GOP weenies deploring Donald Trump and urging voters to abandon their support of him. (“Where’s the conflict?” is always the media’s principal question.)
But some GOP insiders worry that “death by media” is an uncertain tool that takes too long and might fail. They are pinning their hopes of stopping Trump on a “brokered convention” – a scenario in which no candidate arrives at the party’s nominating convention with a clear majority of pledged delegates. By party rules, delegates must vote for the candidate they are pledged to on the first ballot. But that first ballot won’t produce a nominee. After that, delegates can switch their votes, giving the boys in the smoke-filled rooms a chance to horse-trade for someone more acceptable to the party’s establishment. This is touted as the only realistic way to keep Donald Trump from being the GOP’s nominee. (Governor John Kasich, who has won only his own state of Ohio, thus far, hopes to be the party’s fallback guy.)
This technique was not unknown in days of yore. In 1860, eight candidates vied for the Republican presidential nomination. William Seward of New York was the favorite – followed by Abraham Lincoln (Illinois), Salmon P. Chase (Ohio) and Edward Bates (Missouri). But controversies damaged both Seward and Chase. Because Lincoln’s debates had given him national fame, and because the party needed the western states he could win, they chose him on the third ballot.
Thus, a brokered convention would not be unprecedented for the GOP. Donald Trump might arrive with fewer than the 1237 pledged delegates needed for the nomination, setting things up for the brokered stratagem. The fly in the ointment, though, might be Mr. Trump’s delegate count. If he is well short of 1237, or if another candidate has almost as many, then no problemo. But if he comes up just a few short – say 1150 or so – the prospect of elbowing him out of the nomination becomes very dicey. Even if it could be done, party insiders must realize that voters who brought Mr. Trump within a whisker of the nomination, only to see it snatched away in some backroom deal, would be enraged. It would split the party – virtually guaranteeing a GOP loss in November.
Long ago (in another venue) Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times…” For Republicans, that statement could describe 2016. Never have the stars been so perfectly aligned, and the party’s bench of candidates so deep and so able. But seldom has the Grand Old Party had such difficulty accepting the man who looks like the people’s favorite.
At the end of the day, it will be best to trust the people and accept their judgment. The alternative of a crippled party letting Mrs. Clinton snatch what should be a sure GOP win is unacceptable. Intemperate talk by some GOP bigwigs of actually voting for Mrs. Clinton must stop. No true Republican should even think it.