Over the course of the last two weeks, the political conversation among Republican party elders and increasingly, within the same Media which has helped to create the Monster, has turned to trying to find a way to keep Donald Trump from becoming our next president. To many of us, the thought that he might actually have a chance at doing so seems ludicrous. Here is a man with no experience of government, a self-proclaimed master of business with at least four bankruptcies to his credit and a string of failed business ventures which range from comical to con-artist. If ever there was a candidate ripped straight from the pages of a Superman comic, this is it.
But alas, it is we who have been proven wrong, as the Trump Train continues to gain steam. You see, we have committed the cardinal sin of believing that somehow, the election process will run on logic and reason. It doesn’t. It never has. The fuel of elections is raw emotion, visceral gut reaction. In life, we don’t love and trust people from our head; we love and trust from our heart and our gut. And the election process is nothing, if not a love fest.
One look at Trump’s supporters should be enough to tell us. They are not interested in taking the time to hash out the details of his platform; he hasn’t got any. His campaign is swagger, bluster, braggadocio, histrionics and self-aggrandizement in the extreme. Every other day it’s “pin the blame on the foreigner” or “when are we gonna get sick of all this winning?” I have personally witnessed high school pep rallies with a better articulated game plan.
But the Republicans don’t get it. In desperation, they sent out Mitt Romney, first runner up as most boring man in North America, to strike dead this fire-breathing town dragon. To say he failed to do so does not adequately paint the pile of ashes Trump and his supporters made of ol’ Mitt. Next, Marco Rubio threw himself on his sword, overthinking the game and asking his supporters in Ohio to vote for John Kasich. His supporters everywhere probably saw that Marco’s investment in the election was not 100% and they promptly lost him his home state of Florida. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. Now, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are squaring off against each other, each claiming that for the betterment of the party, the other should step aside.
All of this plays right into the hands of Trump and his followers. Every time the establishment makes a failed run at derailing his express, they confirm at a gut level, at a heart level, that they fear Trump because he is the strongest candidate, because he has the truest message, because he will make America great again. This is the same Republican party which has taught the far right to fear that the government is coming for them, that the invasion of Texas by the US military is imminent, that the Supreme Court is coming for their weapons and will confiscate their bibles, that a Kenyan muslim has usurped our government with plans to overthrow the country and instill Sharia law. Well fellas, you reap what you sow.
Let us be real. Ted Cruz has all the appeal of a tooth extraction without the Novocain. John Kasich’s homespun vitality plays well with the flannel shirt crowd, but the establishment Republicans are more of an Armani suit group and Trump’s followers don’t wear shirts; the bib overalls show off the White Power tattoos to greater advantage. Neither of these guys is going to galvanize enough of the party faithful to overtake the Trumpster.
Now, it appears that Rod Serling is staging a chess match from the heart of the Twilight Zone. The party suggests that if they can get to a brokered convention, the delegates will be free to vote for a candidate of party choosing. Trump counters with a riots in the streets threat. The party probingly hints that they might have to run a third party candidate of their own. Trump’s smirk emerges like the Cheshire Cat as he instructs his acolytes, “see how the establishment works to undermine the will of the people, my people.” This may go down in history as the first Reality Presidential Election, with Kim Kardashian installed as the next Secretary of Status.
So, what will it take to put the brakes on the Trump Train? For stop it, we must. If you haven’t been living under the neighbor’s porch and have an IQ somewhere north of litmus paper, you know that this guy is bad news. What he lacks in a legislative record on which to run, he makes up for in a record of dim-witted get rich(er) quick schemes ranging from steaks and vodka, to a crashed airline business, a bogus school for wannabe real estate moguls and a casino empire that has run out of money on four separate occasions. For Christ’s sake, he’s a game show and beauty pageant host. Wink Martindale has an equal claim to the Presidency.
In one sense, the Republican elders are right. If they can somehow drag this to the convention without the obligation of naming Trump the winner, arcane rules of the nomination process can be dusted off and a nominee, maybe someone who has not yet even thrown a hat into the ring, could be crowned heir apparent to Ronald Reagan or perhaps, Zachary Taylor. But this is a Friday Night Football and Jeopardy kind of crowd. The way they see it, whomever has the most points at the end of regulation time, wins. The risk for the Republicans is that they could save the country (from Trump) and fracture the GOP in the process. And this would not be Socrates knocking back a goblet of hemlock; this would be Jim Jones ladling up the Kool-Aid.
It is possible that a third-party, independent candidate could be run with the backing of a Super-Pac and keep enough votes from Trump in the general to either lose the election to a Democrat or stall it in the Electoral College. That would send the decision to the Speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan.
On the surface, it would appear that a split ticket from the Republican side would send the Democrat through, but there are no guarantees here. It is already becoming clear that a large portion of the Democratic base will not support Hillary Clinton, should she become the nominee. With allegations of voter fraud emerging from Florida, North Carolina and Illinois, and a DNC which has overtly been attempting to rig the primary process, many true liberals are feeling disenfranchised. In a three way race, they might just stay home.
So, unless a true Republican could be induced to take a dive for the party, it would have to be another outsider running on the third party ticket and that would possibly put Ryan in a quandary. If he named the Democrat as president, he would remove from the Republican party any license to play the victim at the hands of those Democrats. If he selected the Third-Party candidate, the faithful would proclaim that the fix was in, and the party would be faced with rebuilding its base for the next decade. And if he played the Trump card, he would not only risk the American economy, judicial system, a new war in the Middle East and deteriorating relationships with allies across the Western World, he would risk the Republican party becoming a global laughing stock, witnessed as the newest incarnation of a Papa Doc Duvalier led banana republic.
For these reasons and perhaps a few more, the Republican elders are more likely to do nothing, and continue to let the string play out. “Perhaps,” they may think, “this train is still going to wreck and boy, we wouldn’t want to miss that!” If they can make it to a brokered convention, they will have to wet a finger and see just how hard the political wind is blowing.
They may determine that there is no choice but to let Trump run. They may take him into a back room and make him an offer he can’t refuse; while his ego is immense, his love of money and the sense that he made a great deal might leave him open to an old-fashioned bribe to step aside. Give him a huge cash settlement and make him ambassador to Monaco.
Or, they may wet the middle finger, test the wind with it and name Cruz or Kasich as their man with the plan. If there are riots in the streets, well, it is only Cleveland. Who’d notice?
Ultimately, if they choose to let this nation’s voters decide, the odds are that Trump will take the nomination and will be run against the Democratic nominee. That is allowing this race to be run right down to the wire. They could instruct the Super Pacs and Republican office holders to sit on their hands and let Trump play this game with his own money. But he seems to have plenty of it.
Then, it comes down to the Democratic candidate. As I see it, Hillary is the Lou Costello to Trump’s Bud Abbott. They were made for each other as they were made for entertaining, reality TV. She is a large target with a string of scandals, a paltry legislative record, a history of failures as Secretary of State, lingering doubts about her honesty and the lurking and leering shadow of her womanizing better half. All of Trump’s inadequacies as leadership material will have to be set against her on the record lies, obfuscations, legalese, flip-flops and her track record of not being able to work across party lines (let alone within her own party). In a tragi-comic sense, she makes him look, if not good, acceptable. And of course, this is a popularity contest. This is emotion and gut. People love a winner. And people don’t like Hillary.
The only way to save this country, and the Republican Party by extension, from the disaster that would be a Donald Trump presidency, may be to stack him up against Bernie Sanders. Sanders has the record of achievement that Trump lacks. Sanders speaks to the heart of the American population from inside. He is one of us. There are no scandals surrounding Sanders. There are no flip-flops, no moral lapses, no equivocations or inconsistencies of political vision. The socialist tag has not done him any harm. His actions speak volumes to his integrity. Like Trump, Bernie Sanders can’t be bought. But unlike Trump, he is doing this with our money, given gladly by a population that loves the man and trusts the message. Trump’s style of attack will not find its mark with Sanders. Instead, Trump will be forced to actually debate Sanders on real issues, and will be shown to be the fool that he truly is. When the American voter makes an emotional decision here, it will be between everyone’s favorite grandfather and their belligerent, drunken uncle.
But there is a price to be paid by the Democratic party as well, and they may not be prepared to meet it. The DNC has backed Hillary because Hillary represents business as usual. Her election ensures the continued funding from Wall Street, the backing of lobbyists attached to the health insurance and big-pharmaceutical industries, and the quick death of a grass roots movement that might toss out long standing Democratic House and Senate members in favor of new blood who would work with a President Sanders to revive the middle and working classes. The oligarchy is not prepared for a life in exile, and they fear that Sanders might be punching that ticket. As the DNC carefully pointed out in explaining the role of their Super Delegates, the Democratic Party does not belong to the people, it belongs to the folks who know better, the elder statesmen of the party, the oligarchs themselves.
Come November, should Trump become the next President of the United States, history will forever blame the Republicans. But those of us who live through it, will remember that the Democrats, through the actions of the DNC, were absolutely complicit.