Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Destroy The Trump Candidacy Lest It Destroys USA and GOP

The party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan has been hijacked by a clownish racist and misogynist running for the Presidency. At this point if Donald Trump's candidacy is not stopped it'll destroy the GOP and America even if he loses the nomination. The GOP is fooling itself if it thinks Trump will flame out. Trump, as GOP nominee, is a very real prospect at this time and the GOP will face an electoral disaster worse than what it faced with Barry Goldwater as nominee.

Donald Trump is the most consummate politician this season and has shamed professional politicians and for the GOP to be in denial of his political talents is dangerous to the nation. It is cliche to cast an election as the most important election in a generation. I've heard that characterization from 2004 till 2012 for every election. 2016 is no different. America is at the cross-roads, again. Racial tensions have never been this high in America since the days of Rodney King. The world is spinning out of control in the middle-east, an explosive tinder box in a good day let alone when it is messy. Like 2012 it appears the GOP is all set to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Romney was a good man and lost because he was a bad candidate. Trump is a bad man and a good candidate. The latter is scary.

Recently Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post that he'll eat the paper that his column was printed on if Trump does not drop out before the first ballot is cast in the Iowa caucuses and yet today the New York Times reports that the GOP is in full panic mode at the prospect that Trump may not only not drop before Iowa but could very well become the party's standard bearer. A GOP strategist told the times that if Trump is the nominee the GOP will face an "electoral wipe out". Trump has upended the entire class of political punditry in America.

No candidate in US political history has gone from strength to strength fueled by insulting one group after another. At so many points so far pundits predicted the demise of Trump's candidacy after each round of abuse hurled by him at some group or person. Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists in the very speech that he announced his candidacy and saw his popularity surge contrary to the expectations of the punditry class and all decent citizens. Then he cast aspersions on whether John McCain, a decorated war veteran and venerated for having suffered torture after being captured, was a hero. The punditry guffawed "it's over, he crossed a line. Insulting a decorated war veteran who is a sitting US senator and a former nominee in the GOP primaries is harakiri". Trump laughed his way to a further surge in the polls. Then he went on a war path against Fox News host Megan Kelly, who, during a GOP debate, asked if he insulted women as a habit. Trump suggested Kelly was menstruating. Punditry went into a paroxysm of shock saying "Megan Kelly is a beloved anchor by the Republican base, it's over now". Trump's rating remained solid. The realization slowly dawned that Trump's base loved him for his bombast and ability to insult in the name of being courageously politically incorrect. The insults continued and they got worse.

Ronald Reagan famously formulated the 11th commandment, "don't speak ill of your fellow GOP candidates". Trump inverted it "speak nothing but ill of your fellow candidates". He mocked Jeb Bush as "low energy". During debates put-downs and retorts were his favorite ways to answer. He wondered why Rand Paul, given his low ratings, was even on the stage. To John Kasich he retorted "I've made billions I don't have to answer to you". On the trail he wondered if Carly Fiorina's face was worthy enough to be President. When candidates like Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal tried to take on Trump and eventually quit the race he openly guffawed and gloated.

The Trump candidacy is the more fact free campaign in politics today. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan tartly said "you are entitled to your own opinions but not to your own facts". Trump functions with circular logic where he claims something and then shows tweets from supporters as factual evidence in support of the claim he made in a vacuum. Political columnist Chris Cilizza wrote for the Post on the dangerous trend where candidates pay no price for dishing out patented lies and supporters care a damn about it. Cilizza lamented how thanks to bipartisan bashing of mainstream media there is no umpire today that is trusted by the electorate and this creating the space for a fantasy world where Trump feels free to create his own facts with impunity.

It is said that one should not get into a mud fight with a pig because at some point the pig starts enjoying. Other GOP candidates have shied away from engaging with Trump for several reasons including not wanting to be targets of his insults and for fear of alienating his voters who they'd need if and when he drops out of the race. Even billionaire king makers and donors like the Koch brothers have kept their distance the now nascent campaign to take down Trump. When Trump brazenly claimed that "thousands of Muslims" in Jersey city cheered on 9/11 not even Chris Christie, known for being brash and feisty and sitting governor of New Jersey, fumbled in repudiating what every news outlet called out as a lie. Armed with a critical endorsement in New Hampshire today Christie has unequivocally called out  Trump on his lie.

Forget about sparring with candidates on policy Trump revels in hurling abusive invectives and brazen clownish attacks. When Ben Carson's biography was being questioned Trump saw an opening to attack Carson who was threatening his position in Iowa. At a rally Trump launched a diatribe complete with a circus routine mocking claims of Carson having escaped becoming a murderer in his teens when his attempt to stab a classmate was foiled by that classmates belt buckle. Stepping away from the podium Trump, a candidate for the Oval office, parted his suit and played with his buckle and ranted "how can it stop a knife". Trump reached new lows when he openly mocked a disabled reporter for his disability. There was, in what has now become routine, a collective shocked gasp from the nation and the candidate sailing on unruffled. Practically at this point there is no use pretending that there is any line of decency that Trump cannot cross without paying a political price.

The GOP in large part should blame itself for the creation of Trump. I've earlier argued that Trump is a symbol of America's decline of intellectualism. That is still true. Only in an intellectually bankrupt America could an air-head like Sarah Palin become the nominee for the vice-presidency and drag the party into the morass of intellectual vacuity. The tea party insurrection that propelled the GOP from doldrums of 2008 to capturing, first, the House and then the Senate was brazenly anti-intellectual and harbored strains of racism within it. The GOP leadership were content to ride that tiger to electoral success and pretended they were riding a populist insurrection against a socialist President. In those days Trump ran around town claiming that the President was not US born and the GOP leadership silently encouraged it. Sarah Palin and Trump should've been stopped long ago.

It is sheer denial by the GOP establishment to even think they can control the genie. The GOP base is in full blown revolt against the establishment. It's not just Trump that's a headache for the GOP. Ben Carson makes Donald Trump look rational. Carson is a shame and an embarrassment. Then there is Ted Cruz whose possible win of the nomination is already sending a chill down the spine of his fellow senators who view him as the most dangerous flamethrower around.

A few points to be fair to Trump supporters though. When Hillary Clinton apologizes and pledges that she'll never again use the words "illegal immigrant" it makes a complete mockery of the laws of the land. Faced with the prospect of a presidential candidate refusing call illegal aliens, well, illegal aliens the electorate lurches towards one who calls them rapists silently hoping that such heated rhetoric is for the campaign trail and that while better language will come when he's in office he may not sell out the nation in pursuit of votes. To some extent Trump supporters are itching to see somebody call a spade, not just a spade but a bloody spade. And Trump is obliging gladly.

Obama's Syria policy is in tatters and he has time only to mock Republicans of refusing to admit Syrian refugees because they are afraid of "widows and orphans". This is demagoguery at its naked worst. His own Democrats then deserted him and forced him to face the issue that the people in general, including security analysts, do have genuine fears about admitting Syrian refugees onto US soil. This is when Trump feels secure to speak offensively and gets a pass for plain speaking.

Donald Trump is an indecent man who hopes to get elected to the highest office of the land by preying on the fears and insecurities of the electorate. If the GOP establishment thinks they can capitalize on the excitement generated by his candidacy they'll be disappointed to know that they will reap a whirlwind. Trump is politically savvy and is an adroit campaigner. Trump is no fool, just a knave.

All this "oh well he has no ground game, he cannot win primaries" is empty wishful thinking. Trump is methodical in taking down opponents, structuring well attended rallies in key states and sucking the oxygen out of the room thus drowning out the message of the other candidates. When Trump saw that Carson was materializing as a threat in Iowa he moved quickly and took Carson head on. It is this pugnacity and nimbleness that his supporters see will be an asset in the Oval office. Trump, I'd argue, is the best politician amongst the GOP candidates. No candidate, to my knowledge, has visited more states than him, nobody has had bigger crowds, nobody is better funded, nobody gets as much free air time as he does from the networks, nobody has sustained a commanding lead over such a long period of time. Trump is here to stay and therein lies the danger.

Assuming that the GOP electorate comes to its senses and Trump does lose the nomination or better still he does indeed drop out before Iowa caucuses the damage to the GOP brand is still considerable. Candidates like Carson and Cruz only add to the "GOP crazies" narrative. For a party that vowed to do better with minorities after the Romney debacle of asking illegal immigrants to self-deport this is a dangerous place to be.

It is time the GOP leadership shows, well, leadership and destroys the Trump candidacy.


ispeuq said...

He is likely to win the nomination and possibly the presidency as well. The democrats could rejoice at his nomination but Hillary (their likely nominee) isn't well liked as well. So the election could mean choosing the least worse candidate instead of the best.

iYogiBear said...

Well.....this kind of dislike that so called intellect heaps on rusticity...It takes different flowers to make a bouqeut.
If he is liked today for being politically incorrect it is because of his candour in between his insults that people find different after being totally disappointed with suave but dour candidates like Obama.
I would say it is that the intellectuals have let down USA so badly that people do not trust the so called intellectuals anymore.

Unknown said...

Sad that the article fails to understand the enormous economic and social change in the past few decades and the immiserisation of the lower middle class, the increasing inequalities and the burgeoning health and education costs. Hence the appeal of Trump and the distrust of the establishment. it is far more serious than the Modi phenomenon. But be prepared for a moderate Trump once he gets the nomination and starts opposing Hilary Clinton