Watching events unfold this election year is proof that the Chinese saying “May you live in interesting times,” is a curse. 2016 is an extremely interesting time in American politics, and with each passing day I’m convinced that once this election is over things will never be the same thanks to Donald Trump.
Trump’s success has spawned a cottage industry of political navel-gazers trying to figure out how this brash and egotistical real estate developer commandeered the grassroots of a major political party. Dan Balz of the Washington Post writes, “At the core of Donald Trump’s political success this year are the grievances of a sizable and now vocal block of disaffected voters, many of them white and working-class, and a Republican Party that has sought and benefited from their support while giving them almost nothing tangible in return.”
Funny how that happened. Starting in 1994 the GOP faithful elected a Congress who was supposed to implement a “Contract with America” to lower spending. Instead what they elected was a bunch of neophytes who immediately started acting like Democrats feeding from the trough, throwing a bone to the rank and file by attempting to impeach a sitting president over his infidelity to a woman they all hated anyway. In 2000 the GOP grassroots do what they are told and elect an establishment candidate – who then goes on to start a war that his father left unfinished, blowing a hole in the budget almost as wide as any crater in Iraq.
But they do as they are told and re-elect him in 2004. And they do as they are told again in 2008 before revolting in 2010 by electing a bunch of Tea Party firebrands who… sidle up to the trough just like their Contract with America forebears did 16 years previously. The party elites are professionals at co-opting rebels, and the GOP’s did absolutely nothing to improve the lot of the grassroots. Instead their economic prospects continued dwindling as the GOP majority cut deal after deal with the Democrat minority and their liberal president.
The GOP grassroots voted for GOP candidates and found the men and women they elected to Congress were Democrats in all but name. It’s as if the Democrats had controlled Congress as well as the presidency since 2008. The Democrats push to flood labor markets with illegal aliens to boost union membership and their own party’s roster, and the GOP - beholden to the same corporations bankrolling the Democrats needing cheap labor – agree. Meanwhile American citizens watch these illegals take their jobs and drive down the wages of those they don’t.
Now some of the GOP elite are claiming they are going to vote for Hillary instead of Trump, something they had warned Trump against doing when they hoped he would flare-out last Fall. Why this may seem shocking for them it’s no surprise to the Republican Party faithful; they understand the GOP elite has been Democrats all along. At the very least it undermines their past arguments that any Republican is better in the Oval Office than any Democrat.
The GOP peasants are revolting and they have chosen as their leader the only man willing to voice their concerns. For years they have sought a fighter who would take a punch from the Democrats and hit back twice as hard. They finally found him in of all places, Donald Trump. The New York Times reports, “The problem, for figures like Mr. Forbes and Mr. Romney, is that Mr. Trump’s supporters seem profoundly uninterested at the moment with the image, expectations or traditions of the Republican Party, according to interviews with more than three dozen voters, elected officials and operatives. They are, in many cases, hostile to it. “I want to see Trump go up there and do damage to the Republican Party,” said Jeff Walls, 53, of Flowood, Miss.” Perhaps Mr. Romney would have won the election of 2012 had he hit Obama then as hard as he’s hitting Trump now.
The GOP elites are feeling the people’s pitchforks at their hindquarters, but the ultimate goal is for the champion of the grassroots to take power and represent their interests and address their concerns instead of serving the same Wall Street/Silicon Valley masters as the Democrats.
On the surface the Democrats are gleeful, watching their sworn enemies implode. But talk to a supporter of Bernie Sanders about how they feel about their candidate’s treatment by the DNC. See how they feel about being told to “get into line” and support Hillary Clinton, a woman whose income from a single speech to investment bankers puts her among the top 1% of Americans. A Bernie supporter must be feeling the Bern watching a known pathological liar like Clinton promise to redistribute the wealth from the very people who made her the wealthiest first lady in history. If Clinton sinks like Romney this Fall, perhaps 2020 will be the year the Democrat grass roots grab their pitchforks and unleash terror on their own party elite. But they have plenty of time to gloat until then.
Any party that treats its members as poorly as the Republican Party deserves revolution or death. In a healthy democracy people need to elect representatives who actually represent them. If a party cannot meet that demand, then it deserves oblivion. The GOP elite should be afraid, very afraid. It deserves to feel a bit what its rank and file have felt for decades.