Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Trump and Clinton are big winners on Super Tuesday. Why the Republican party could be the loser.

Results are in from the super Tuesday primaries and they should surprise no one. While there was no clean sweep, on the Republican side Donald Trump took most of the states as did Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. The New York Times has the state-by-state results.. In terms of delegates, Trump leads with 285 followed by Cruz (161), Rubio (87), and Kasich (25). Clinton leads Sanders 544 to 349.

So it is more and more looking like the nominees will be Trump and Clinton. The candidates who are pinning their hopes on victories in their home states may be in for a big disappointment, to say the least. The latest polls from Real Clear Politics has Trump besting Rubio in Florida by 20 points and Trump edging Kasich in Ohio by 5 points.

The bigger story this morning is the increasing antipathy toward Trump by some Republicans - let's label them traditionalists (or, if you like, establishment or elite or party stalwarts). The theme of this rejection of Trump is the possible breakup of the Republican party. AZBlueMeanie (Blog for Arizona) covers some of the analysis.

If Donald J. Trump wins big on “Super Tuesday” as expected [ _and he did_ ], he will begin to accumulate a delegate lead that may be insurmountable, even in the later winner-take-all primaries beginning on March 15 (where Trump also is currently leading in the polls). Republican base voters have almost always coalesced around the candidate who smells like a winner to them in the early primaries.

[However] Republican pundits are now openly talking about breaking up the Republican Party to stop Trump.

That base, BTW, consists of low income, under-educated, white males.

I'll give you a sample from two reports. One, cited by the Blue Meanie, is from a long-time Republican consultant, Rick Wilson, titled "With God As My Witness, I Will Never Vote For Donald Trump". Wilson's anger at Trumpism is palpable.

Many on the right have come forward in the past few days to outline why they will never vote for Trump, and their reasons are articulate, principled, eloquent, and moving. If it wasn’t already abundantly clear from the last eight months, let me join the chorus; I will never vote for Donald Trump.

Never.

I will never vote for Donald Trump, not even if he’s the Republican nominee. I will never vote for Donald Trump, not even if Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley rise from the grave and beg me to support him. I will never vote for Donald Trump, not even if it means he forms a third party and runs as the narcissist sociopath he truly is. I will never vote for Donald Trump, no matter how many times the liberal media declares his inevitability and his immunity to scrutiny and attack or how many times the “conservative” media ignores his record and beliefs to fellate him on-air.

I will never vote for Donald Trump because he’s a pro-gun control, pro-single-payer health care, pro-eminent domain, pro-abortion, and pro-statism liberal who will immediately revert to form when he’s finished selling his fauxservatism to people he patently views as rubes. I will never vote for Donald Trump, because absolutely nothing he can say or do will cover the fact he is obviously and blatantly lying every time his thin lips move and his freakishly tiny hands pound the podium.

I will never vote for Donald Trump because it’s utterly obvious that he lacks the temperament, judgment, and basic sanity to be placed as steward over 7,700 nuclear weapons and the rest of the awesome power of the United States military. I will never vote for Donald Trump because he’s a draft-dodging blowhard who was chasing strange in Midtown when John McCain was having his arms broken by the Vietnamese.

I will never vote for Donald Trump to toe the “he’s my nominee” line because if he wins my party’s nomination it means the GOP has sold itself to a soulless, utterly unprincipled liberal narcissist bent on its destruction and that of conservatism. ...

I will never vote for Donald Trump because he’s created a political culture that revels in its own willingness to be conned and governed only by its talk-radio-fueled rage. I will never vote for Donald Trump because he’s stoked the darkest and most evil corners of his fandom with praise and approval.

...

I have opposed Trump from the first day of his wretched, crapulous campaign. I have opposed Trump when his clownish minions called my clients seeking to have me fired. I have opposed The Donald when his slavish of Trumpbart stooges ran story after story attacking me, and unleashed their fever-swamp yokels on my email, my phone, and my family.

I will continue to oppose Trump, implacably and unceasingly.

I will not bend. I will not cease this fight. I will never embrace this thuggish, venal, gibbering psychotic, and I will not countenance those who do. I don’t care if I’m the last Republican in America standing to resist this man, but with almighty God as my witness, I will not vote for Donald Trump.

I should have seen the last part coming. Recall, if you will, the thugs that attack protesters at Trump rallies. Why would they not extend that behavior to attacking anyone opposed to Trump?

The second essay is by Andrew Bacevich (writing in commondreams.org) subtitled "What Trumpism Means for Democracy".

Whether or not Donald Trump ultimately succeeds in winning the White House, historians are likely to rank him as the most consequential presidential candidate of at least the past half-century. He has already transformed the tone and temper of American political life. If he becomes the Republican nominee, he will demolish its structural underpinnings as well. Should he prevail in November, his election will alter its very fabric in ways likely to prove irreversible. Whether Trump ever delivers on his promise to "Make America Great Again," he is already transforming American democratic practice.

Trump takes obvious delight in thumbing his nose at the political establishment and flouting its norms. Yet to classify him as an anti-establishment figure is to miss his true significance. He is to American politics what Martin Shkreli is to Big Pharma. Each represents in exaggerated form the distilled essence of a much larger and more disturbing reality. Each embodies the smirking cynicism that has become one of the defining characteristics of our age. Each in his own way is a sign of the times.

In contrast to the universally reviled Shkreli, however, Trump has cultivated a mass following that appears impervious to his missteps, miscues, and misstatements. What Trump actually believes -- whether he believes in anything apart from big, splashy self-display -- is largely unknown and probably beside the point. Trumpism is not a program or an ideology. It is an attitude or pose that feeds off of, and then reinforces, widespread anger and alienation.

The pose works because the anger -- always present in certain quarters of the American electorate but especially acute today -- is genuine. By acting the part of impish bad boy and consciously trampling on the canons of political correctness, Trump validates that anger. The more outrageous his behavior, the more secure his position at the very center of the political circus. Wondering what he will do next, we can’t take our eyes off him. And to quote Marco Rubio in a different context, Trump “knows exactly what he is doing.”

Read Bacevitch's article for how Trump plays the Obama card to stoke anger among his followers. He follows on with speculations about the implosion of the Republican party.

What then lies ahead?

If Trump secures the Republican nomination, now an increasingly imaginable prospect, the party is likely to implode. Whatever rump organization survives will have forfeited any remaining claim to represent principled conservatism.

None of this will matter to Trump, however. He is no conservative and Trumpism requires no party. Even if some new institutional alternative to conventional liberalism eventually emerges, the two-party system that has long defined the landscape of American politics will be gone for good.

Should Trump or a Trump mini-me ultimately succeed in capturing the presidency, a possibility that can no longer be dismissed out of hand, the effects will be even more profound. In all but name, the United States will cease to be a constitutional republic. Once President Trump inevitably declares that he alone expresses the popular will, Americans will find that they have traded the rule of law for a version of caudillismo. Trump’s Washington could come to resemble Buenos Aires in the days of Juan PerĂ³n, with Melania a suitably glamorous stand-in for Evita, and plebiscites suitably glamorous stand-ins for elections.

That a considerable number of Americans appear to welcome this prospect may seem inexplicable. Yet reason enough exists for their disenchantment. American democracy has been decaying for decades. The people know that they are no longer truly sovereign. They know that the apparatus of power, both public and private, does not promote the common good, itself a concept that has become obsolete. They have had their fill of irresponsibility, lack of accountability, incompetence, and the bad times that increasingly seem to go with them.

So in disturbingly large numbers they have turned to Trump to strip bare the body politic, willing to take a chance that he will come up with something that, if not better, will at least be more entertaining. As Argentines and others who have trusted their fate to demagogues have discovered, such expectations are doomed to disappointment.

But my sense is that these two writers are in the minority. Republican leaders, when prodded, are saying publicly that they will support whoever is the GOP nominee. Of course they will. (Consider Chris Christie's about face.) They created the Trumpenstein and now have to reconcile their cumulative misdeeds and political incompetence with their future behaviors.

AZBlueMeanie summarizes.

This is just a small sampling of the discussions going on among conservatives right now. Google it. They are just now coming to grips with the realization of what I have been saying for years: This is not your father’s GOP. The carcass of the Republican Party has been hollowed-out by the parasitic radical extremist fringe elements of the far-right. Your father’s GOP is long since dead.

This election may be one of those redefining moments that come only once, maybe twice, in a century in which a new political party emerges from the ashes of an old failed party. It should be fascinating, and perhaps terrifying, to watch.

This is not a cause for celebration but rather a reason for concern. Recall what arose from the ashes of the Weimar Republic.

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