I’m far from a Donald Trump supporter. I’m an ex-Republican (full disclosure: thanks to Pennsylvania’s two party-only primary rules, I’m still registered as one) and a key reason I’m ex-GOP is because of the party’s consistent record of saying one thing, doing another, and claiming to stand for principles that they have no intention of acting on.
After Saturday night’s departure by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush from the presidential race, conventional wisdom has the “establishment” rallying behind Florida Senator Marco Rubio – you know, the complete “RINO” Marco Rubio who was the darling of conservative punditry and Tea Party activists who defeated Charlie Crist in 2010. On Sunday, the Huffington Post reported first that 2012 nominee Governor Mitt Romney was poised to endorse Rubio, which was quickly walked back by Rubio and his campaign, but may still happen.
Of course, on the news, vocal “anti-establishment” conservative voices jumped:
Romney to endorse Rubio. The establishment has their candidate. https://t.co/EpYcvhlI2n
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) February 21, 2016
This is particularly entertaining, considering:
Marco Rubio – A True Conservative http://www.marcorubio.com/ http://fb.me/vke79jCi — Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) July 15, 2010
But hey, people can and do change. Reversals on Rubio though are comical in my opinion, considering his record is far more conservative than that of the party he belongs to.
What people miss is that the Republican “establishment” is largely a myth. It’s as big a myth as the Republican “base” being strongly conservative. The Republican “base” is the “establishment”, and it’s made up of…drumroll please…Republicans!
A majority of Republicans are right of center, and they’re also perfectly fine with growing government’s intertwining with as many aspects of daily life as possible, provided it’s Republicans doing the intertwining and Republican-favored “protected classes” (special interests, if you prefer) benefit. The remainder of the GOP’s support is from low information voters who mainly look for the “R” after someone’s name when November rolls around.
And that’s why Donald Trump is the perfect Republican candidate. He embodies everything bad that the GOP has become, and checks off so many boxes they look for in a standard bearer. And that’s why I’ll never vote for him. Consider:
The establishment actually embraces him. I know I wasn’t the only one who laughed heartily over Mr. Trump receiving the coveted, anti-establishment Senator Bob Dole endorsement, at least with respect to a head-to-head alternative of Senator Ted Cruz (Update: since initial writing, Dole has endorsed Marco Rubio). Remember back to this time three years ago when failed not-Romney Newt Gingrich lamented he didn’t know what the purpose of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was anymore?
“I don’t know what the purpose of CPAC is anymore,” Gingrich said during Laura Ingraham’s radio show on Wednesday.
Gingrich went on to add that the annual Conservative Political Action Conference used to be “sort of the militant wing of the conservative movement,” but now it’s “huge.”
“But I don’t know how they define who gets to come in and who doesn’t get to come in,” he continued. “And my sense is the board is not very open and not very clear about, you know whether its personality decisions or what they’re thinking.”
Perhaps instead of “huge”, Speaker Gingrich should have said “yuge!” CPAC, and the American Conservative Union who puts it on, has largely become Republican mainstream. They’re just another outlet who thinks right of center is good enough and are probably just happy they’ll never have to contend with the CPAC presidential straw poll being hijacked by Paul supporters: Ron or Rand. Of course, who was a CPAC headliner in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015? You guessed it.
Republicans love single-issue voters. Normally, that single issue is being pro-military, pro-“family values”, or pro-life, and Republicans are usually very good at pandering to the single-issue of the day and those voters. This year, the single issue that has one-trick-pony voters attracted is immigration, or immigration mixed with a dose of “OMG! ISIS is coming!” fear. Trump fits that bill perfectly. His entire campaign centers around immigration. Not long ago, Trump said that when his crowds start losing their energy, a chorus of “Build the wall!” gets them riled right back up. When you’ve got one great line, if people cheer, it can be enough.
He stands for nothing…and everything. Just like the Republican Party. Pointing out Trump’s many flip-flops on what are supposedly core Republican issues and principles does nothing to dissuade his supporters. Pick a Republican, point out their inconsistencies on issues, and it more often than not doesn’t matter to most mainstream Republican voters. That’s why, if they make it through a primary insurgency (and those are very recent developments)d, your typical Republican politician gets reelected over-and-over again. He’s even boomeranged on positions within this campaign, leaving questions about his stance on everything from single-payer health care to employing combat forces vs. ISIS. But hey, “He fights!,” about…something. Trump’s lofty talk about fixing things is pure Republican: stay away from the details, because the details will almost certainly wind up being at variance with what you say your principles are.
He couldn’t care less about free markets. Republicans and their party are often smeared with being uncaring capitalists and putting business over people. Of course, what most Republicans actually care about is more properly called corporatism – using government power to benefit specific designated “winners” – and not true capitalism, which requires free competition in the absence of government interference. Between Trump’s Mexico wall (Remember NAFTA? It’s a binding, ratified treaty) and his threatened trade war with China, that should fit in perfectly with Republican desires to micro-manage the economy in their own way. Of course, bring up Trump’s donations to Democrat politicians, and that shows precisely his lack of caring for free market economics. He bought influence, because he himself is his one and only special interest.
He’s an ex-Democrat. Glory, halleluia! We’ve converted another one! Well, sort of. While Republicans are typically good at pandering to single-issue-voters, they’ve been less successful in pandering on Democrat causes that Republicans would like to run with, but can’t articulate a better selling point than, “We’ll do that too, but we won’t be as bad as the Democrats!” Trump’s ex-Democratness is one of the frequent points used to compare him to ex-Democrat Ronald Reagan, but Trump hardly has an “A Time For Choosing” speech long in his pre-seeking political office past. Trump’s main pitch on government is that it’s been mismanaged, not that it is rampantly in excess of its enumerated powers and needs to have its power devolved. Just like Republicans, to Trump government is great so long as they’re running it.
He transcends the media. Now, this is the one – only one – point on which I give Trump credit, even though I disagree with how he’s done it. Republicans have been searching decades for a candidate that the mainstream media will actually like and be fair to, and barring that, they’ll take one loud and forceful enough to do it without a pro-them media. Republicans don’t have the slightest clue about the importance of culture, marketing, and messaging, because they fail at it as a matter of course. Trump is doing what all mainline Republicans have been dreaming of being able to do, and they still don’t understand how. Unfortunately, the way he’s accomplished his media transcendence has also drawn in the most distasteful groups on the fringes of his policy positions, but the typical Republican response to bad coming in with good is, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
In conclusion, I think it’s preposterous that the Republican “establishment” is looking for an alternative to Trump. Real Republicans long to return to the days of political wheeling and dealing and “getting things done” whether they’re in the White House or not, or controlling Congress or not. There’s no doubt that Trump as president will love making deals, and those deals will inevitably favor government-driven solutions. It’s unlikely a Republican Congress will do much to stop him, and it’s also likely given his record that Trump as President will give concessions to Democrats to get his precious deals. It’s what he’s always done in his business life. No one should expect any different.
Donald Trump is perfect for the Republican Party, and if long-time “vote for the ‘R'” voters and party apparatchiks can’t see it, they really need to clean their mirrors. To those holding up Trump as the “anti-GOP”, sadly we’ve descended to the point that “anti-establishment” has become, “It’s our guy who will do the same old things? I’m good with that!”