Sunday, May 15th, 2016
By Reed Galen
Quote by a Smart Person: "Foolishness is rarely a matter of lack of intelligence or even lack of information. " John Hardy
Welcome to the American Singularity.
We’re fully into Week 2 of the Third Party Sweepstakes. Despite the fact that none of the proponents of these efforts, some of whom I know and respect, can come to agreement on what their goals are or who they’re targeting to run as an independent, speculation and front page stories continue unabated. That their efforts are too late, foolhardy and unconvincing (especially to those whom they’re asking to run) should not equate to my belief that Donald J. Trump is the best choice for a Republican nominee or that he fits into any known or unknown template for a President of the United States. But he is on his way to winning the GOP nomination because of what some many of these same people have espoused for so long: A Washington-centric, militarily aggressive, corporatist worldview that voters roundly rejected this year. And yet, a band of dedicated pundits and operatives continue their quest for unicorn who will either save the Senate or throw the Presidential race to the House of Representatives to decide.
Windmills, Windmills, Everywhere
We’ll be reading and writing the stories of Donald Trump’s run for the next decade. Political science professors will delve deeply into the data and hope to reveal to their students how someone as unlikely as The Donald could be one of two people destined for the White House. The GOP Establishment, starting in 2009 and continuing to this very day has misread its voters, their concerns and even their beliefs. When Trump announced, we all ridiculed his run. When he refused to go away, we put the blinders on and waited for him to implode. When the Caucuses came, we told ourselves that finally, the voters who had saved us from the likes of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum would do the same this year.
As Trump began racking up wins, a belated and abortive attempt was made to derail him in favor of no one in particular. And now that he’s sailing toward Cleveland, the last, flailing gasp of the #NeverTrump movement plays its last hand: A third party effort of which no one viable wants to be the nominee and whose outcome is at best unrealistic and at worst will give Hillary Clinton 400 Electoral Votes. But the Dons and Sanchos of the Beltway will hear none of it. They’ve saddled up their donkey and they’re going to ride him all the way to Seville.
Sands Through the Hourglass
In today’s Washington Post profile of the effort by Phil Rucker and Robert Costa, names like Romney and Sasse lead the conversations. And as much as Governor Romney has done for the party in the last eight years, he is now a voice of the GOP’s past. His early anti-Trump remarks failed to unite or ignite any true opposition to the presumptive nominee’s run. His main ability at this point is to rely on his significant donor base to marshall resources for an independent bid. Ben Sasse (R-NE), by contrast, is a conservative voice for the future. Sasse’s striking and well-crafted opposition to Trump’s rise has marked him as a candidate to watch. But even he realizes that leaving the Party to derail Trump is a one-way trip. He’s too smart to entangle himself in a truly quixotic effort that would leave him perhaps irreparably damaged as the Trump forces turned their considerable destructive capabilities on him.
Donald Trump represents the ghost of campaigns present. He is everything that most political professionals abhor in a candidate: off-message all the time, unwilling or unable to moderate or modulate his stances and unwilling to listen to counsel of any kind - good or bad - except from family members. He is also the megaphone for those millions of voters for whom Growth and Opportunity Projects are little more than another excuse to shake their heads and declaim Washington’s unwillingness or inability to look out into the hinterlands for what’s really happening.
There appears to be a strong current of neoconservative leadership running through these third party dalliances. The guiding principle of Republican foreign policy for the last 30+ years, the neocons seem to be particularly aghast at Donald Trump’s foreign policy. Many of their concerns are valid as the man appears to have no one on whom he relies to tell him how the world actually works. But for the old guard, even attempting to argue that their is an alternative to their vision is enough to send them to the mattresses.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who clashed with neocons on many issues of foreign policy, was not a thoughtful arbiter of dissent but a dangerous isolationist who wants to pull the United States back into its shell and leave the world to burn without it. Why would Republican voters be looking for another view of how to protect and defend the country and how it deploys its forces? Because there is a disproportionate chance that these low to middle-income white voters are the moms and dads and brothers and sisters of the men and women we send into harm’s way as if they were one more disposable commodity. Isolationism isn’t a viable position for the United States. That doesn’t mean that its opposite cardinal point, full-scale intervention, is either.
Fixing Frankenstein (Again)
Republican elders love to fool with the rules of the game, because they think it’s the construct of the contest, not the content of it, that truly matters. You don’t need to look much further to see how the GOP arrived at its current state. Prior to the 2012 Republican Convention, the Rules Committee propagated a regulation that if a candidate had not won a majority of delegates in eight states, their name could not be placed into nomination. This was a silly and short-sighted response to Congressman Ron Paul’s insurgent campaign and the rule’s passage assured he wouldn’t be given a role at the GOP conclave. Ironically, many of those same people considered overturning the very same rule to ensure that a Ted Cruz or John Kasich could have their names put up for a vote; another poor and flailing attempt to disrupt Trump with process victories.
Likewise, after the long and tortuous 2012 primary, the Republic National Committee attempted to ensure a favored candidate would be protected from just such a fight by reducing the number of debates (and disinviting any candidate who wandered) from other GOP-sanctioned events, and slanting the primary season to achieve an earlier outcome. None of these gambits: the convention play, or how the primary works, panned out for Republican leadership. They forgot the most important factor: In an American presidential primary, the process will out. Try and control its chaos all you want; it doesn’t work. This is the American Singularity in full motion.
This week, Politico reported that RNC officials are now trying to force many states with so-called “open” primaries to close them in an attempt to avoid a bunch of independent and Democratic voters from participating in choosing the nominee. First, I believe that primaries are party functions, so if they want to close them, it is totally within their purview. But to believe that by once again trying to engineer the process you will achieve a desired outcome is foolishness. Republican primary voters are responsible for Donald Trump’s impending nomination. Was he helped in those open primary states by outsiders? Yes. Second, those same primary voters are a sliver of overall Republican registration; the likely nominee, be it Ted Cruz or another candidate of his ilk, is likely unelectable in a fall campaign.
Many of the Republican voters who now hang “I’m With Her” stickers on their walls or post their disdain for the GOP on Facebook are just as likely to abandon an arch-conservative as they are Trump. But if they want to continue tinkering with Frankenstein’s monster, I believe they should: one of two things will happen: either the voters will again prove they’re in charge of who goes before the nation or all this tinkering will truly drive a final wedge in the party - leaving competing conservative movements to debate and compete into the future.