Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's Our Party and We'll Die If We Want To

They could have stopped him, but they didn't. I'm referring to the Republicans and Donald Trump. There were plans afoot, right up to the convention and a day or two into the convention, to pull a fast one – enact some sort of change in the rules – whatever – anything to keep Trump from being the nominee. But it all collapsed; it became a non-story, a non-event, literally overnight.

And now, since that didn't happen, they are left with pathetic whining and empty threats to – at this point! -- choose someone else (to run on what ticket, pray tell?), or even to form a temporary third party. But this is all, in my opinion, an anemic attempt to save face – to basically say “Trump does not represent the Republican Party, even though he won its nomination (in accordance with rules which we could have changed, but didn't).” Well, fine – he may, in fact, not represent the mainstream or establishment Republicans, but he certainly represents all those who voted for him in the primaries, and they seem to constitute the majority of voting members of the party at this point in history.

But that is precisely the point. Trump won the primary race thanks to a populist insurgency -- a movement which he, basically, inspired. Where were these people before Trump came along? They were out there, clearly, but they had no voice – they were the forgotten, the disenfranchised, the ignored, the mocked and ridiculed (by the media and the liberals), and the generally shat-upon. So Trump became, literally, a rabble-rouser, and it was that rabble that temporarily took over the Republican Party by sheer force of numbers and energy. There's nothing like the politics of victimization to turn the powerless into the (temporarily) powerful – and since the Republicans are traditionally the party of non-victims, this was something the establishment did not foresee and had no way of dealing with once it occurred.

Now, I hasten to add that this particular populist demographic was not, and should not be confused with, the “Tea Party”, although there might have been some overlap in personnel. The latter was, basically, a conservative movement within the party; it made the country-club types uneasy, but they were willing to tolerate and work with it. The Trump crowd, on the other hand, makes the country-club types hold perfumed hankies up to their patrician noses; they really are beyond the pale, and “not our kind”. If the Tea Partiers were the county clubbers' churchgoing cousins (you know, the kind with wrinkled suits and big hair), the Trump crowd are all the black sheep of every Republican family rolled into one. They're the equivalent of Cousin Mike, who shows up at the family reunion on a Harley with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon strapped to the back seat.

And the reasons are not hard to understand. The Republicans have been, as long as anyone can remember, the party of the contented... the complacent... the smug... the satisfied... the party of those who've made their pile and thus want nothing more than to hold onto it and keep it out of the hands of the unwashed masses. You can call it “conservatism” if by that you mean keeping things just the way they are – with, perhaps, an occasional bone thrown to the underclasses in order to keep them at bay (or at least confine them to the Democrat-operated inner cities where they belong). (And who says that it's only the Democrats who “need” the inner cities with their captive constituents? The Republicans need them too, the same way they need jails – to keep the proletariat contained.) But this is conservatism with neither compassion nor principle; it's a holding pattern, and it's phobic whenever confronted with actual ideas (which is why the Tea Partiers were regarded as being a bit out of control – because they actually had what amount to ideas in these times of conceptual vapidity).

And then along came Trump and his rabble army – and when you think about it, they didn't necessarily even have to be Republicans. After all, Trump and Bernie Sanders probably have more in common than Trump and the mainstream Republicans. But aside from that, Trump is not, after all, a man of ideas or of principles – to say nothing of “theory”. He is, when you get right down to it, fairly pragmatic in his goals, if vague as to the means of achieving them. He's not much for slogans, and is certainly not interested in demagoguery of the typical liberal/Democrat type, or bland speechifying of the typical Republican type. Heck, he doesn't even talk in rhymes like Jesse Jackson, or put on different accents depending on his audience, like Hillary. If you get beyond the offhand remarks and quips (AKA “gaffes”, according to the MSM – and why is it that when Biden says crazy stuff, he's just good ol' Uncle Joe, whereas with Trump it's taken as evidence of madness?), you find a lot of common sense – and that is, in fact, what his supporters are looking for. They've had the lifeblood sucked out of them by people with “ideas” for decades now, and are just looking for someone who “gets it”, as Trump seems to do. (And I don't mean “getting it” in the “I feel your pain” sense, a la Bill Clinton, because it was obvious that he didn't feel anyone's pain, and even if he had would not have cared.) Plus, Trump has the added quality of being politically incorrect, to the maximum extent possible without being literally driven out of town (although he has come close at times). And this is something that naturally appeals to anyone who considers themselves a victim of political correctness. The old-time radical goal of “├ępater le bourgeois” -- shock the middle classes – has taken on new life, and from an unexpected quarter at that. Now it's not so much the middle classes per se that need shocking (although that's also true) but the complacent subset represented by the Republican Party mainstream. (And their complacency is particularly puzzling considering that they have long since lost the culture wars and most of the big bucks are going to the Democrats. Which causes one to wonder, what's left? What do they stand for, anyway? (I think the answer should be clear by now.))

So with all of this in mind, why is Trump so anathema to the Republican establishment? Why are they openly plotting against him – openly hoping he loses? Well, it's because he, basically, stole the nomination – snatched it right out of their pale, limp, lifeless hands. But they let him do it, and why was that? It was, basically, to teach those populists – that rabble, that doesn't belong in the party anyway – a damn good lesson: This is what happens when you try to turn the party of complacency into some kind of “people's” party... some kind of rag-tag outfit that talks about change, and reform, and all that radical stuff. Another way of putting it is that Trump is trying to turn the Republican Party into a Democratic Party for the white working class – and that can't be allowed to happen. (And yes, I know, the Democratic Party represented the white working class for many years, but they decided at some point that their fortunes lay more with the “rainbow coalition” -- a multiplication of aggrieved minorities under the supervision of “intellectuals”, academics, and media and Hollywood trend setters. So the traditional Democrat constituency became orphans. Some of them were corralled by Nixon with his “Southern strategy”... others by Reagan... and now it's Trump's turn.)

The problem with all of this is that the Trump camp is a minority within a minority. Not only do they not belong in the Republican Party, but they are a minority in terms of power, influence, and resources – even if they managed to exert themselves sufficiently to get Trump nominated. And the Republicans, in turn, are a minority party on the national level, simply because we have gotten to the point where the takers outnumber the makers – the tax receivers outnumber the tax payers. (And I don't hesitate to place myself in the former category, since I'm on a civil service pension – although I also pay taxes.) We have become, in short, a nation of minorities, most of which are aggrieved, rebellious, and militant – and thus easy pickings for the Democrats, who promise everything but deliver next to nothing (but that doesn't seem to matter since it's the “ideas” that count, and the Democrats are nothing if not the party of ideas – invariably wrong, but ideas nonetheless). (You can see this in the fact that while Obama has done so much for race relations – ahem! -- all that really counts is his being “the first black president”. And all that will really count for Hillary is being “the first woman president”. Results? Let's not get all hung up on that issue.) Ideas are fine things except when they trump (no pun intended) reality.

So the demographics are against any Republican candidate for president, even if they are not against all Republicans in all Congressional districts, state houses, etc. The Republicans could have nominated pretty much anyone to run against Hillary, and they would, by now, be dead men (or women) walking, as is Trump. And that's only pure demographics, and doesn't include the big-city machines that have myriad ways of delivering votes to Democrats – their age-old tactics now in overdrive with the advent of computer-based voting machines. (If it has always been true that it doesn't matter who votes, but who counts the votes, it is more true now than ever.) (At least in the old days it took some considerable physical effort to steal votes; now all you have to do is be in charge of the software.)

The Republicans can “fight back” by concentrating on Congressional races, governorships, state houses, etc. -- and they are, after a fashion. Of course their default platform when it comes to domestic policy is “we're almost as compassionate as the Democrats” -- a sure-fire winner. And when it comes to foreign policy, everyone is pretty much on the same sheet of music across the spectrum – although Trump has come out against “nation building”, which is sure to win him very few fans among the neocons who control the Republican party and have great influence with the Democrats as well. (This may, in fact, be his greatest sin as far as the Regime is concerned – that he seems skeptical about the desirability of expanding and maintaining the American Empire.)

The most recent candidate who represented a true choice among the entire Republican-Democratic array was Ron Paul, and his ideas are either 100 years behind the times or 100 years ahead; time will tell. Rand Paul was a pale imitation at best; he got some things right and other things as wrong as anyone else. Basically, he's a good man but not an idea man, and if anything is going to smash the two-party monopoly (which means a single ruling party with two subdivisions) it's ideas – and not just the usual pap, but real ideas with real consequences.

I should mention also that a prominent argument against the idea that the Republicans allowed Trump to be nominated so that he'll lose and discredit “right-wing populism” once and for all is the Supreme Court issue. Put Hillary in for 8 years (she'll get re-elected in 2020 even if she has to campaign from a hospital bed) and we'll wind up with an iron-clad liberal Supreme Court for the rest of the century, or something. (And BTW, if the rumors about her health are even partly true, is she really going to last eight years? Will I be putting up a blog post entitled “Citizen Kaine” at some point? Time will tell.)

But when it comes to the Supreme Court argument, well... for one thing, look at the success rate of Republican presidents when it comes to Supreme Court appointments; most of them take about five minutes after they don those heavy black robes to wander off the reservation. But the main point is that the Republicans knew – just knew, with absolute certainty – that they couldn't win the presidency this year. So why not try and salvage at least some advantage from what is shaping up to be a debacle? Why not teach those populists a lesson and get rid of them (blaming them for losing the election, of course), and drive them back into those trailer parks and mountain shacks where they belong? Then the “nice”, well-behaved people can take over the party again, and... what? Continue to suck up to the Democrats, even when they are in the majority in Congress? Probably. It's what they do best.

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