Candidates Are Not The GOP’s Problem; It’s Their Voters


Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2016, but his surge in popularity highlights the Republican’s real problem—GOP voters. And the inevitable crash-and-burn phase of his nascent campaign has not yet arrived — although his vile and unneccessary attacks on John McCain could turn out to be an indication—but it will.165229_600

Edmund Burke is credited with the quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” But I would like to call bullshit on that. In the United States there are are people who actively seek to:

  • Do harm to others–By denying food and medicine to citizens who cannot afford to live in the society that politicians control regardless of their constituencies’  wishes or demands.
  • Deny citizen their Constitutional right to vote:–By actively seeking to deny legal citizens of the U.S. access to the voting booth by any means possible.
  • Keep representatives in power who clearly do not have the interest of the American people as their foremost mission while being paid to do so: —47 U.S. sitting U.S. Senators violated the Logan Act, possibly committing treason when they sought to undermine active negotiations with a foreign government to limit their nuclear capabilities.

And the one thing all of these instances have in common? GOP voters cheered these acts of insurgency by GOP politicians and vowed to support these bad actors who either supported or participated in these acts.

Yet, more than any of the 17 people seeking to be the next GOP standard bearer, Donald Trump, who has never held office as so much as a city councilman–and is nothing more than a spoiled blowhard who inherited all his millions and feels that this qualifies him to be President of the U.S.–is suddenly the GOP front-runner which tells us everything we need to know about why the Republican Party is in such desperate trouble; GOP voters are eating this clown’s stunts up like a fat baby eats cake.

And every four years, GOP primary voters catapult idiots like Trump into the limelight by supporting blowhard idiots, especially in red states. Last go ’round it was Herman Caine and his 9-9-9 idiocy, among other embarrassingly idiotic proposals.

When Trump officially entered the presidential waters last month, Republican voters had an overwhelmingly negative view of him. He had a 23 percent favorable rating and a 65 percent unfavorablility rating. Among all Americans, the numbers were similarly bad: 13 and 71 percent, respectively.

Flash forward six weeks and Trump has turned those numbers around faster than Vanna White turns vowels. According to the latest Washington Post poll, while 61 percent of all Americans continue to see him in negative terms, among Republicans he now has a 57 percent favorability rating versus 40 percent unfavorable.

What accounts for the dramatic change? What else; Trump launched a full-scale rhetorical assault on illegal immigrants of course. He described Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. He accused the Mexican government of sending its worst citizens across the border to the United States, and he made xenophobic attacks the centerpiece of his campaign.

Think this is new for Trump? Back in 2012, when he first thought about running for office, he accused China of “raping,” “screwing,” and “decimating” the United States and adopted a faux “Asian” accent to bash South Korea. He jumped into the “birther” movement against President Obama making all sorts of ridiculous and never proven insinuations. Although Trump didn’t run that year, he briefly led the GOP field in public opinion polls.

Sound familiar? The same thing is happening today. It seems almost impossible to deny the fact that Trump’s attacks on immigrants are part of the reason for his increased popularity among Republican voters. Trump’s xenophobia is just one Republican-base stance fueling his popularity.

Not surprisingly, GOP leaders who still hold out vanishing hopes of winning over Hispanic voters claim that he does not speak for the party. According to Jeb Bush, Trump’s “views are way out of the mainstream of what most Republicans think.” Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, a frequent target of Trump, says Trump spews a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense. And Senator John McCain says Trump has simply “fired up the crazies.”

But the problem for the GOP isn’t that Trump swallows all the available media-play like a black hole swallows light, the problem is that the inmates are running the asylum. In other words, he appeals to Republican voters…and that is scariest shit ever uttered.

Trump is undoubtedly a deeply clownish figure, immune to facts, evidence, and good taste — but he’s not stupid. He clearly understands, the way to the heart of a rank-and-file Republican voter.

This, in a nutshell, is the dilemma that risks turning the GOP into a buttocks political party. Their base of voters is overwhelmingly white and old, cultivated by two generations of Republican officeholders who profited by catering to their resentments and fears. And now the GOP is paying the price. Those white voters don’t like immigrants, don’t look kindly on politicians who want to improve the party’s appeal among Hispanics, and can clearly be enthralled by a racist demagogue with lots of money and bad hair. The result is turning off not only Hispanic voters, but also tolerant white voters. Republicans always had a tough hill to climb in winning over Hispanics, but Trump has made it that much harder, if not impossible in the near-term.

Donald Trump might be dominating the headlines today and causing GOP leaders all kinds of nightmares. But viewing Trump as the issue misses the point profoundly. Republicans don’t have a Trump problem; they have a Republican voter problem.

Trump’s entrance has dramatically changed the race’s dynamic, which was destined to be a tangled mess without him. A month ago, the question was this: Who in this field will emerge as the real challenger to Bush? The new question: Who is best positioned to stop the GOP’s confrontational huckster?

That’s not to say that Trump has a strong chance of becoming the party’s nominee, mind you. But early on, he’s clearly found the sweet spot with the GOP’s nativists and knuckleheads, which could keep him in the race until the field narrows to half a handful of serious candidates, and fragmented primary voters start to coalesce.

The prospective Trump Slayer sure as hell isn’t either Rick Perry or Scott Walker. Both are struggling to demonstrate that they have the necessary gravitas for the job. I don’t think it will be Rand Paul, who has a devoted but limited following, but has disappeared with Trump hogging the media spotlight. Rick Santorum, who had his 15 minutes of fame in the last campaign,  and neither Chris Christie or Bobby Jindal can challenge Trump because they are both seeking a political promotion based on state performances that, were they private-sector CEOs, would more likely get them fired. Marco Rubio, at best one who acts like a junior varsity player, will wither in the Trump glare and need IVs of fluids rather than the small bottles for which he desperately grasped during his unforgettably pathetic performance in his 2013 State of the Union GOP rebuttal. And any question to which the answer is Ted Cruz is a strange inquiry indeed.

That’s good news for Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and John Kasich, the current governor of Ohio, two men who have been successful swing-state leaders and may hold the only antidote to Trump’s asininity, having demonstrated seriousness of purpose and whom one can actually imagine as president.

When it comes to Bush, dislike of dynasty or distrust of the establishment favorite could very well diminish in the face of worries about the damage Trump is doing to the Republican brand. Meanwhile, for those Thump Trump voters who remain vehemently opposed to Bush, Kasich may well start to look better.

But the early primaries will be a very intense standoff. As stated earlier, the problem in the GOP primaries will not be the candidates…it will be the GOP primary voters that adore the in-your-face dogma that Trump is all too happy to deliver.

Harvey Gold