The RNC, the Republican Party elite, is currently dealing with the consequences of its own stupidity (which I would have used as the title, if I hadn’t used it before.)
Their hatred for Donald Trump is not based on ideology, personality or even a genuine concern that Trump is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. It is the far more understandable sense that Trump’s success has rendered them irrelevant, that Trump has literally stolen the Republican Party from under their noses. And that is precisely what Trump has done. They are caught between a number of options, all bad for them personally even if they are not bad for the Republican Party.
Trump, like it or not, is now the Republican Nominee for President. I do not believe that the RNC can remove him, at least not legally; I rather doubt Trump can be pushed into resigning from the race, not when he has stood firm and beaten some of the most powerful republicans in the country. As a current meme has it, Hillary Clinton had to cheat to beat an unelectable socialist (and even then she barely succeeded); Trump crushed his opponents and made himself unchallengeable.
And so the RNC is caught in a dilemma of its own making.
If they support Donald Trump, they undermine their own reason for existence. Trump did not come out of the RNC’s ranks; he took his case to the party’s rank and file … and won. Who needs the elites if the rank and file can choose their own candidate? But if they don’t support Trump, Trump will cry foul – and he will be right. Will the RNC effectively betray its voters by siding with Hillary Clinton? What future do they have if they try to throw the election to the Democrats?
In a very real sense, it does not matter if we see President Trump taking power in the coming year. The RNC has been crippled, holed below the waterline, by Trump’s success. They now have to justify their existence to a party that is understandably sceptical of their value and sees no reason to keep them around. Indeed, if the RNC suffers a number of defections to Hillary Clinton, it will only accelerate the transformation of the Republican Party. The rank and file will assert that the truth – that the political elite has more in common with each other than they do with the average citizen – has finally been exposed.
The blunt truth is, once again, that Donald Trump is not the cause of the problems facing the Republican Party. It would be rather more accurate to say, perhaps, that the RNC saw fit to abandon the interests of large numbers of Republican voters – people who have been disparaged, unfairly, as ‘poor white trash.’ In playground terms, the elite forgot their roots as they sucked up to the ‘cool kids’ – the media and political elite – and sneered at everyone below them. Instead of accepting the Tea Party movement as a gentle rebuke from the party faithful, the RNC crushed it. Instead of using Republican majorities to push back against Obama, the elite chose to roll over for a truly unsuitable President. And, in doing so, they created a mass of party members desperate for a leader, for a fighter, for someone who will stand up for them.
And they see Donald Trump as that fighter.
The elites may argue that Trump is a hideous candidate for President. And, from their point of view, they’re right. Trump’s success calls their power base into question. But now he’s the one they’re stuck with.
There is an emotion I call ‘Nag Rage.’ It is a tidal rage of frustration with people who nag, people who talk down to other people, people who sneer … it is an incoherent wave of pure anger that leads to shouting and violence because, in the end, all it wants is for the nagger to shut up. The average American – the average western citizen – is fed up with being nagged, fed up with being told he’s wrong, fed up with being insulted and mocked by people who have no conception of his life … in short, he hates being made to feel powerless. Trump’s success is based, mainly, on appealing to a demographic that feels that it has been abandoned by the elites …
… And it is right.
The RNC had an excellent opportunity to mend fences during the Tea Party era. It might have been able to save itself, perhaps, if it had put forward a more sensible candidate during the early selection process. But instead, it backed Jeb Bush …
… And failed to realise that, for vast numbers of their voters, Jeb was not part of the solution, but just part of the problem.
Trump, in short, is precisely what they deserve.
I was challenged, after writing the previous article, to put forward any reasons why anyone should vote for Donald Trump. I found three:
First, President Trump would not have the tame Congress or media President Obama has enjoyed. There would be a great deal more scrutiny of his decisions while in office, a great deal more involvement from other politicians. They might even succeed in rolling back a great of the executive power Obama has amassed over the last eight years. In short, with Republican majorities, Trump would have to produce results.
Second, whoever takes office next year will have the task of nominating a number of replacement Supreme Court judges. Would the average Republican really want to put that power in Hillary’s hands? Think about all the rulings that will have to be made over the next few years. Do you want, for example, limitations on free speech because of vague ‘hate speech’ concerns? Or post-birth abortions? Or transgender bathrooms? What about gun rights? Schooling? Religious freedom?
Third, he isn’t Hillary Clinton.
Obviously, that sounds snide, but there is a grain of truth in it. Obama did well in 2008 – and he did – because he wasn’t Hillary, because he represented an alternative to a repeat of the Clinton Years. Donald Trump may have very little political experience, but – as I noted before – Hillary’s experience in office shows us that she isn’t half as clever as she seems to think she is. Trump may actually be smart enough to nominate people who are genuine experts; Clinton, depending on which sources you read, doesn’t seem to be smart enough to do anything of the sort. Why didn’t she realise that things in Libya were going to hell?
Whatever else can be said about Trump, he has never played fast and loose with national security. Clinton has – the email server alone would be grounds for a trial and a long jail sentence, if anyone else had owned and operated the server. I don’t believe there are any real grounds to dispute that Donald Trump loves America, while there are certainly plenty of grounds to suspect that the Clintons owe no allegiance to anyone past themselves.
The American population, in short, has a choice between Trump’s mouth – and it is a very foul mouth – and Hillary’s crimes. (A line I gleefully stole from an earlier commenter. Sorry.)
And yet, would Trump make a good president?
It is easy to say that anyone would be better than Hillary Clinton. That obviously isn’t true. I can think of worse candidates for the post than either Clinton or Trump. But the fundamental problem facing Trump – and the Republicans – is that the qualities needed to get elected are different from the qualities needed to be a good president. Trump is an aggressive fighter whose instinctive approach to challenges is to hit back. That plays well with his base because they’ve wanted a fighter for the last two decades. But when it comes to building a working government, it isn’t such a great strength.
The blunt truth, as I have noted before, is that it is difficult to truly assess Donald Trump. If he does well, the media ignores it; if he makes a tiny little gaffe, the media turns it into a world-class disaster and then recoils in horror when Trump keeps marching on anyway. In theory, at least, he’s better-prepared for the job than Clinton; a career outside the political elite, extensive business experience, extensive high-level discussion experience, a genuine willingness to notice the real problems bedevilling the United States and try to come to grips with them. But in practice, any fool can make a fuss about anything when out of power – just watch countless opposition parties around the globe – and then fold when they are forced to actually tackle the problems.
Indeed, many of Trump’s more absurd statements play well with his base. Trump’s attacks on Khan (who was trotted out at the DNC purely to embarrass Trump) made perfect sense; Khan’s role was to delegitimize the concerns about Muslim immigration and terrorism and he had to be neutralised as quickly as possible. Trump’s attacks on the media delight his base because the media hasn’t given them a fair shake in years. ‘Poor white trash’ are the sole ethnic group the media is allowed to mock these days – and boy, do they get mocked. And support for Trump is seen as a blow against Political Correctness and the many absurdities running around America – and the West – these days.
People do have the right to protest peacefully, for example – the keyword there is peacefully. The average American, I suspect, recoils in horror from violent student protests and groups such as Black Lives Matter because they are very far from peaceful. Their message boils down to ‘give us what we want or we will get violent’ and often they get violent anyway. It makes people want more repression, not tolerance. Trump’s supporters believe that their backs are being pressed against the wall, that they have to fight or surrender. And the hell of it is that they have a point.
Trump, for better or worse, comes across as someone willing to stand up and actually fight for his base. And they will forgive him anything as long as he fights for them.
The blunt truth is that America, particularly over the last eight years, has become more and more polarised. Racial tensions are on the rise, fuelled by demands for ‘social justice’ and propelled by narratives that are often easy to disprove; the economy is in a mess, despite constant assertions that it is doing better; the media has been exposed as shrills for the political left; the political elite themselves have been proved to be uninterested in anything but power; freedom of speech is under savage attack; ‘justice’ itself is now a question of who you are, not what you did.
And it is fuelling both extremism and a desire to just lash out.
Is it fair, one may ask, to blame every homosexual in America for the court case that crushed a bakery? Of course not – there were plenty of homosexuals who thought the whole affair was nothing more than disgraceful bullying. But the incident fuelled anti-homosexual feelings because it gave weight to the ‘us against them’ complex that has dominated humanity ever since we crawled out of the ocean. Discovering that one group has ‘rights’ not given to others is a recipe for social unrest and disaster.
Most people want tolerance, nothing more. But the Political Left wants enthusiastic acceptance from everyone. The average person has no reason to care, one way or the other, if Bruce Jenner wants to be called Caitlin Jenner as he starts the transformation into a transgender woman. But the left wants everyone to celibate his transformation and recoils in shocked horror when people, asked for their opinion, question his claim to be a real woman.
“Silly ignorant rednecks – didn’t they know there was only one true answer?”
And the rules keep changing. No one knows where to stand. Legitimate concerns are ignored – those who raise them are mocked and belittled. And the net result is a great seething mass of anger that has now found a champion in Donald Trump. Trump is a rump, as Bill James noted, but he has a point.
The Republican Party had an excellent chance to take a stand against the madness enveloping America – and did nothing. Now … the RNC has managed to render itself irreverent …
… And it is faced with the choice of holding its collective nose and supporting Trump …
… Or betraying its roots and supporting Hillary Clinton.