Tuesday, April 26, 2016
When The Cannibals Eat Their Own...
The Republican Party is in an amazing state these days, where a relatively small establishment centered in the DC-New York City bubble has become almost totally divorced from the vast majority of its voters. Not only are they divorced from them, in many cases they actually despise them
I have to admit, this is something you don't see every day - a political party trying to destroy its own front runner! But when you look at it from their point of view, it not only makes perfect sense, but it's tactically sound. And it's how they plan to win the 2016 election, believe it or not. Or at least, win it from their perspective. Walk with me awhile.
The Republican establishment had a problem when the campaign season started in 2015. They expected to be able to field the usual product to present to the despised rubes and hillbillys in flyover country as the least worst choice, just like the last 5 election cycles. And why not? These are our betters, the Smart Guys,who are such experts they have only managed to win the popular vote in one presidential election since 1988!
Except this time, the peasants rebelled. Rather than try to figure out why, once the GOP establishment realized what was happening and that the thing had legs, their main concern was how to maintain their power and position by stopping it. And what do you do when you're a powerful faction that's a minority opposed by a majority? Rather than confront it head to head, you divide and conquer. And you confuse the issue by finding allies some of the insurgents think are on their side but that you actually own.
Donald Trump, who was the first one out of the box to tap into the anger of not just the Republican base but a whole lot of dissident independents and disaffected Democrats was considered a joke at first. Except a lot of people, hearing a relatively non-scripted candidate saying things to them for the first time that they'd been long muttering privately, speaking to them in the accent and idioms of what writer Angelo Codevilla presciently called the Country Class a few years ago was a breath of fresh air. They didn't think Trump was a joke at all. They had become painfully aware not only that the fix was in, but that the country was being gleefully plundered by the elites at their expense. And they saw clearly that the GOP establishment is just another greedy feeder at the trough. And when they heard this guy, Donald Trump willing to openly say so without any sugar coating or hesitation and saw he was willing to put his money where his mouth was, did they rally around him? You bet they did.
Senator Ted Cruz, with an ear to the prevailing winds came out a few months later and announced his own insurgent candidacy as well, albeit aimed at a somewhat different group of people.
Everything came to a head just before the Iowa caucus.
What launched what PJ Media's Roger L. Simon has accurately called a jihad against Trump was an endorsement by someone whom we're constantly now told is supposedly irrelevant, Governor Sarah Palin. Yeah, she's irrelevant all right..irrelevant enough so that almost as soon as she finished her endorsement speech for Trump, the phone calls and e-mails went out in droves from the donor class to mobilize the troops.
There are a lot of these self styled conservatives who get a paycheck from various think tanks funded by the donor class, or by private arrangements with a patron of their own from the donor class. Or from the articles they write for these magazines and the exposure they can get for things like speaking tours and book deals. So when the order went out to go into full attack mode, a lot of these people were willing to do the jobs Republican voters won't do. And if you remember where that pungent little phrase originated in its original form, it sheds quite a bit of light on the anti-Trump jihad.
Aside from various tried and true establishment sources, self styled conservative organs like the National Review and the Weekly Standard as well as a few brand new sites funded by the donor class became essentially anti-Trump comic books. The National Review even came out with an entire special issue, with short puff pieces by most of their writers demonizing Trump. He was referred to the so-called GOP intelligentsia as 'Mussolini, ' a 'nativist,' America's 'Moqtada al-Sadr' and of course, 'not a conservative.' And those are just some of the milder epithets.
Does anyone remotely remember the good folks at The National Revue or the Weekly Standard ever referring to the president, Senator Harry Reid or any other figures on the far Left in these terms?
David Boaz even compared him to George Wallace, an exceedingly odd thing to say about the one GOP candidate actually capable of carrying a chunk of the black vote. George Wallace? Really?
I must confess, when I see these commentators and others like them mouthing off about conservative purity, my reaction is somewhere between wild laughter and wanting to throw something. Didn't they tell us how 'conservative' Bob Dole, the Bushes, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, John McCain and Mitt Romney were? And how we needed to trust them and vote for them?
The labels 'liberal' and 'conservative' have been so bastardized they are meaningless nowadays in America. Of course, this particular election isn't really about labels like that, but of course the anti-Trump jihad preferred that we believe that it was, and with some notable success in some circles.
Donald Trump lost the Iowa caucus to Ted Cruz, largely because he was new to the caucus game and Cruz simply out organized him. But Trump came back to win the New Hampshire primary. And then the #NeverTrump movement went into full hate mode and hasn't stopped since.
The clever twist the GOP establishment put on this was a two-pronged attack. First, they dressed the the most establishment friendly of 16 other candidates in 'real conservative' clothes, and all of them were touted for their fifteen minutes of acclaim as the Anti-Trump. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio...but they all ultimately fell by the wayside no matter how much money they spent and how much they were touted as 'real conservatives' and 'electable' because the voters recognized that familiar stench and said 'no thanks, we had some of that before and we're not buying it this time.'
The second front was sheer genius.Unlike most negative campaigns, not only did they demonize the candidate but his supporters. They, of course, were and are called rednecks, racists, trumpkins, trumptards, idiots and members of the 'Trump Cult.'
It was brilliant because, after seeing one anti-Trump after another bite the dust it played into a new establishment strategy. Since the insurgency wasn't going to buy into one of the obvious Establishment choices, they could ensure an end result they could embrace by ensuring that Mrs. Clinton wins in November, something a number of them like Bill Kristol were even willing to admit. Even with Hillary Clinton in the White House, their perks and power were assured as well as globalist policies like amnesty, continued cheap labor, H1B visa abuse and our current ridiculous trade policies.
Ted Cruz was made for the part of fall guy, which why people like the Bush donors were willing to fund him once things reached this stage.
Aside from being a candidate for the Trump haters to embrace as a Real Conservative, he was a cinch to lose a general election even if he was able to stop Donald Trump. The demonization of Trump supporters, which even extended to blacklisting and threatening people who supported him and threatening others with an end to their careers if they worked on Trump's campaign ensured that the millions of new voters Trump had brought into the GOP tent would stay home, and Cruz's own persona would likely do the rest. And if it was really necessary, they could always sabotage Cruz from the rear.
As an important extra benefit, after Ted Cruz got beat like a gong in the general,they could say to the demoralized peasants 'You see, you got your conservative and he got beat like a gong. Next time fools,listen to us, your betters.'
The one thing that was needed to make this work was for Ted Cruz to buy into the #neverTrump demonization,and unfortunately he performed exactly like the GOP establishment expected him to. Rather than keeping things competitive but civil, he not only embraced the #NeverTump demonization of Trump's followers, he poured gasoline on the flames with questionable campaign tactics,inflammatory rhetoric and millions in negative campaign ads from his campaign and super PACs funded by the donor class.
Trump responded with a few nasty things of his own, including a stupid tweet about Ted Cruz's wife after a non-allied Super Pac ran naked pictures of Trump's spouse in conservative Utah, something Cruz claimed he had nothing to do with. Whether he did or not (and the jury's still out on that plausible deniability), the GOP establishment had exactly what it wanted...a split in the insurgency. And an assurance that the most powerful possible GOP ticket, an insurgent Trump/Cruz run would never happen.
As added insurance for the GOP Establishment, the only way Ted Cruz is going to get the nomination now is by subterfuge and backroom tactics. Cruz's use of party insiders friendly to him to collect delegates without any kind of election or votes might have been just inside the rules, but that and his collusion with John Kasich in a year when people are fed up with business as usual and backroom deals has already backfired, because it has allowed Donald Trump to successfully paint him, with some justification as just another sleazy insider politico benefiting from a corrupt system. Perception matters. Even if Cruz is the nominee, that mud is going to stick, rightly or wrongly and a lot of people will simply stay home.
The bogus comparison with Lincoln's 1860 nomination isn't going to fly either. *
The Establishment Republicans were always more afraid of Trump, because they understand that his getting the nomination and winning represents a real game change and a threat to the status quo. At this point, when Trump is likely to win the nomination or at least show up with close to the number of delegates he needs to win, the GOP Establishment has two choices - they can either pull some sort of shenanigans to disqualify Trump's delegates or otherwise keep him from being nominated, or they can allow him to win the nomination. If Trump is sidelined by some kind of arcane tactics, a lot of the millions of voters he brought into the GOP tent will sit home, which is exactly what demonizing and insulting them was all about.
If the GOP allows Trump to be nominated, not only can the RNC sabotage him from the rear, but they have created a major #NeverTrump bloc that will likewise not just sit home but actively oppose and sabotage him as well during the general. Do you really think NRO and people like Mark Levin or Glenn Beck are going to suddenly change over? Will Ted Cruz, for that matter? The GOP establishment has created a situation where the party unity needed to defeat Hillary Clinton will be insanely difficult at best.
So they have a shot at winning either way.
I realize how upsetting and even angering this is to people who see Ted Cruz as a principled conservative - whatever that means these days. Some of them are people I respect, and I'm sure that the idea that they've been played is repulsive to them. But the facts are the facts.
A number of the usual suspects are now putting out the meme that the Republican Party has a difficult choice between denying Trump the nomination and alienating millions of voters or deciding whether they can win with him as the nominee. As usual, they're late to the party.
Trump and Hillary are actually in a dead heat according to some polls, and the Democrats are going to have their own problems with party unity running with a serially unlikable candidate. So the choice really isn't deciding whether Trump can win. At worst, he's already eclipsed Romney's popular vote in the primaries and he has a better shot than the last two losers.
The real choice the Republican Party needs to make is whether it is going to accept being totally remade in a brand new image or if it is simply going to shatter into pieces like the Whigs and disappear. That's generally what happens when a party eats its own and treats its voters with disdain and disrespect. it either changes for the better or it dies as something new is born.
So far, it still appears that the cannibals are more interested in eating their own than accepting that reality. In which case, the choice will simply be forced on them.
* The Lincoln analogy is ridiculous in my opinion. I know a bit about that convention. The Whigs had shattered for good, the Democrats split in two and there was a fourth party as well. The Republicans were a brand new, minority party and ultimately Lincoln ended up squeaking by with only 39% of the popular vote.
Also, while Seward had more delegates, the difference was nowhere near as pronounced as Cruz's and Trump's.
Lincoln only got the nomination because (a) he was a westerner (Illinois was considered the West) and the republicans as primarily an east coast party needed to carry those states. Seward was a New Yorker. (b) His supporters made a deal with Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, who offered to trade his delegates in exchange for a government job and control of all patronage in Pennsylvania. The deal was made and Lincoln was the nominee. If Cruz attempted the same bargain Lincoln used in this anti-establishment year, the fallout would be massive...especially given what he's already being perceived as because of his previous conduct, regardless of what excuses are used to defend it.