Friday, December 11, 2015

Politix Update: The GOP Finds Itself Deeply In Crisis As It Feeds Trump's Addiction

The more you feed it, the harder it is to tame / Taking in the Beast,
playing it like a game / Lying to yourself saying the same old shit /
I don't need it, I just don't want to quit ~ SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
The days roll into weeks and the weeks into months. Not only does Donald Trump hang on, but he fights his way to the top of the pack, solidifies his lead and draws away from the field, looking more and more like the favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination.  And as the days roll into weeks and the weeks into months, a venal know-nothing the party has inflicted on itself morphs from being a  distraction to a nightmare to a crisis
This day of reckoning was bound to come.  And make no mistake about it, we're talking about a crisis that makes the damage from party-inspired government shutdowns, squabbling over political litmus tests and hand wringing over nonexistent street celebrations in Jersey City on 9/11 seem like child's play. 
The seemingly unstoppable Trump and his renewed threat to bolt for a third-party run if Republican bigs don't kiss his ring may be the greatest crisis the GOP has faced since it debated whether to back emancipationist Abraham Lincoln in 1860 or stand by Thomas Jefferson in 1800 when the young republic's very survival was at stake.  Yes, it's that serious. 
What's the Republican Party to do? 
Cave in to Trump's fascistic world view and give him the stroking that attention addicts like him crave?  Tell him in no uncertain terms that he's welcome to take his agenda of hate elsewhere? 
I'm betting that a party run by cowards whose patriotism is skin deep, allegiance to vested interests like the National Rifle Association is almighty, and pathological inability to learn from its crushing presidential defeats while continuing to court voters of the lowest common denominator does neither 
It neither caves in nor stands up to Trump, pusillanimously hoping against hope that he will self destruct or someone like Ted Cruz, who is a Trump Lite, wrests the nomination from him and saves the party from itself. 
No sense of outrage here, move along
When the history of the 2016 campaign is written, one of the more gruesome backstories will be how Donald Trump took down Jeb Bush. 
Bush was widely assumed to have the nomination for the asking, but he would be a Republican establishment candidate with a difference because of his moderate views on immigration and proven appeal to Hispanics, a large and growing bloc of voters who often are socially conservative and supported George W. Bush in large numbers, but gave Mitt Romney the finger in 2012 because they correctly perceived that he did not have their interests at heart.
But when Bush described as "an act of love" the concept of a Mexican immigrant traveling north to the United States -- legal or otherwise -- to be reunited with his family, Trump pounced and turned Bush's words against him as he grabbed ever bigger headlines about deporting aliens and building a 1,000-mile wall along the border with Mexico. Bush began sliding in the polls, and now registers in the pathetic low single digits.
Trump has been nowhere more diabolical than using a candidate's own words against him, tweeting "Jeb Bush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife," who happens to be a legal immigrant who became a U.S. citizen, but no matter. 
It was the baby brother of Dubya, who got many things wrong as president but got right his refusal to succumb to Islamophobia, who gave Trump the opening to demand that all Muslims be barred from entering the U.S. when young Bush obscenely linked the admissibility of Syrian refugees to their religion.  If there has been a low point in Bush's campaign, and there are many to choose from, it was when he stated that he was comfortable granting refugee status to "people like orphans and people who are clearly not going to be terrorists. Or Christians.
Would Bush be pandering to that lowest common denominator of voter if his party had not so determinedly courted them?  
Hillary Clinton's team is hedging its bets, but expects Donald Trump to be her opponent if he continues to steamroll an opposition field it views as merely paler shades of The Man himself.  
"At this point, the Republicans are still working from the same playbook," Clinton spokeswoman Christina Reynolds told Politico. "They may be overshadowed and losing in the polls to Trump, but on many issues, they hold the same positions, just as out of line with the American public as their front-runner."  
The bet hedgers also are preparing for two other possibilities: That Ted Cruz consolidates the votes of Christian conservatives and Trump haters to seize the nomination, or that Marco Rubio somehow breaks through as the establishment choice since Bush has done his dash.  
Mister Hillary is said to think Cruz will be the nominee, although the former president believes he'll be crushed in the general election because of his extremist views.  
Meanwhile, Missus Hillary has quietly gone from being the favorite to win the Democratic nomination to the prohibitive favorite.  She already has locked up half of the 712 convention superdelegates who make up about 30 percent of the 2,382 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.  Bernie Sander has eight superdelegates and Martin O'Malley but two. 
The crisis in the Republican Party could not come at a worse time for the party and the nation.  For the party, it's Donald Trump.  For the nation, it's the convergence of terrorism and immigration, two issues on which the party is supposed to be strong but its credibility with its base is weak, a consequence of which is the emergence and growing support for the experience-free Trump.
As I wrote the other day, it's been seven years since Republicans opted out of the national conversation by working to undermine Barack Obama however, whenever and wherever, and now they can't be a part of that conversation in a time of crisis because they would appear to be capitulating to the commander in chief.  How pathetic they are, in effect siding with the terrorists by being part of the problem and not working for solutions, as elusive as they may be.
That Trump sits well atop the pack and continues to widen his lead in national polls only a few weeks before the first round of primaries is as much a surprise to the Republican Party as  it is to the Clinton team.  The key has been his ability -- without peer in modern political history -- to exploit the news media and his party's own weaknesses, and most especially white fears and their bastard child, white hate. 
Among those weaknesses is an inherent dishonesty.
Without fail in each election cycle, the party baits and switches.  Beginning with Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy in the 1970s, it dog whistles middle class and poor whites with promises that it hears their plight and then after each election reverts back to serving the interests of the economic elite.   Ronald Reagan did it, both Bushes did it, and John McCain and Mitt Romney would have done it.   One of the many ironies of this election cycle is that Trump is an exemplar of that elite and its worst instincts, but that hasn't made a dent in his popularity.
Remember that silly loyalty pledge Trump signed back before Labor Day in which he promised to  support whomever becomes the nominee?  An RNC spokeswoman pleaded with him on Wednesday to honor the pledge "because everyone knows that a third-party bid would instantly hand Hillary Clinton the keys to the White House."
The party, in turn, had pledged to treat Trump with "fairness," and now it's going to turn on him?
Who needs the endorsement of GOP elder statesmen like Dick Cheney or Karl Rove when hate groups, who happen to be the greatest domestic security threat, love Trump. 
The Daily Stormer website headline this week read: "Heil Donald Trump -- the Ultimate Savior." Stormfront, the biggest white supremacist website, says it's upgrading its servers to handle a traffic spike because of Trump"Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that," said Stormfront founder Don Black, who predicts that the white nationalist forces set in motion by Trump will be a legacy that outlives his political career.
Cheney has been especially vehement is condemning Trump, which may have something to do with him losing the titled of Most Hated Republican.  Thanks for speaking out anyway, Uncle Dick, but isn't Trump just following your lead in dictating policy for the rest of the world?  
This is because Trump isn't anathema to the GOP.  He is the GOP.

Politix Update is written by veteran journalist Shaun Mullen, for whom the 2016 presidential campaign is his 12th since 1968.  Click HERE for an index of previous columns © 2015 Shaun Mullen.

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