Caving On Trump
As I have said on multiple occasions, I do not like Donald Trump. I think he is a self-absorbed, pompous, obtuse and amoral narcissist. I could use a lot more adjectives, but you probably get the idea. The fact that he is the frontrunner in this election, and has managed to squeeze out the majority of the suitable alternatives fills me with angst.
When Trump announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, I don’t believe anyone saw him as a serious contender. Irrespective of his outsider status and lack of political experience, he did not have the demeanor of a presidential candidate. He had a controversial past, multiple marriages and divorces, and a reputation for lewd and misogynistic comments. He was polarizing to say the least.
At the first debate, he refused to pledge his loyalty to the GOP by rejecting a third-party candidacy, and this set nerves on edge, mine included. Historically, independent candidates do not help the GOP win elections, and no one wanted to take a chance on that dynamic in 2016. Trump asserted that his allegiance to the GOP was conditional on fair treatment. Reince Priebus exacted a pledge from Trump, which was relatively worthless, but it served to assuage the GOP’s fears. My take at the time was that we needed to keep Trump within the party no matter what.
Boy was I wrong. We all know that hindsight is 20/20, and it certainly is in this case. I am sure many will disagree with me, but I think we would have been in a better position now if we had called Trump’s bluff and let him run third party. We could have used the full resources of the RNC against him without breaking Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican”. The plethora of material at our disposal was staggering. Our debates would have been substantive, not to mention less chaotic, and Trump would have seen a lot less free media coverage.
I think his candidacy as an Independent would have been a shadow of what is has been as a Republican. I am convinced that he would not have the unwavering support that he has managed to gain by running as a “conservative” candidate. Make no mistake, Trump is not a conservative. As it stands now, he is shattering the GOP, and the Reagan Revolution will never be the same.
Trump has benefitted from over 2 billion dollars in free prime-time advertising courtesy of Fox News Channel, among others. Fox is the main culprit here, and they are complicit in his rise to power, because they have convinced many of their conservative viewers that he is one of them. They have validated his presence in the campaign, and hailed him as a “messiah” who will tear down the walls of the establishment and usher in a new and improved Republican Party. They are wrong.
In his endless appearances on Hannity, Fox and Friends and The O’Reilly Factor, they treat him with kid gloves, and avoid questioning him on any of the hard issues. They make him look good, and a lot of them have publicly voiced their support for his candidacy. I tuned into the O’Reilly Factor last night, and Bill was “coaching” Trump on how to look and act presidential. He schooled him in evading the provocation that will certainly come his way as he climbs upward to the nomination. It was ridiculous.
Then, instead of Bill hammering Trump on his policies, he asked him who his favorite president was. They discussed the character of Reagan and Lincoln, and then Bill asked him his opinion of John F. Kennedy. Really? (Coincidentally, O’Reilly has written books on all three) What bearing does that have on the election? It is called “filling time” and saving Trump from damaging his lead by saying something stupid. I was waiting for Bill to ask him about his favorite color.
Trump has backed out of the next debate citing his opinion that there have been too many, and he has won them all anyway. I think it is more a combination of not wanting to go head to head with Ted Cruz, who will be vicious on policy, and wanting to coast into the next primaries. Most campaign strategists agree that when a candidate is doing well, it is usually best to maintain the status quo.
Even now, or at the convention, I would love to see the GOP come up with a way to force Trump out of the party. He threatens, “rioting in the streets” if this happens, but we need to stop being afraid of Donald Trump. This is not the Mafia, and he is not the Godfather. Let him run as an Independent and take the nuts that support him right along with him. With Trump as the GOP candidate, we will lose anyway. I personally would rather lose with a good candidate who is representative of the true qualities of a conservative Republican, than see the party damaged by the likes of Trump.
I am currently reading a great book called, The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II. As I was reading last night, I came to a passage that gave me pause. The context is Patton discovering the atrocities committed by the Nazi’s, and his insistence that the civilian population in the nearby villages be forced to see what their government has been doing. It reads,
“They crawled out of their cellars and hiding places and looked around into a profound silence enveloping the entire nation. Many, probably most of them, terribly embarrassed and ashamed at what their leaders had put them through but, after all, they had initially voted Hitler and the Nazis into power. It was one of the most horrid mistakes a democracy had ever made and a powerful lesson for today and tomorrow.”