Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Fight for the White House: Trump's Up


We are legion!

A few days ago, I wrote and briefly posted a short article on Jeb Bush. It wasn't quite right. I then replaced it with a somewhat longer article dealing with Trump (or, rather, on how he might lose the Republican primary race). And that wasn't quite right either.

Hmm. Why am I struggling?

I've given it a bit of thought, and I think the simple reason is that, like many others, I wasn't really sure why Trump is doing so well, or why Bush is doing so badly.

In the last few days, though, I do feel that some things have become a little clearer.

So let me try again.


The first Republican debate was held in the beginning of August. Just about everybody expected it to be, in some shape or form, a Trump show. And of course,  that's just what it was.

However, I, for one, hadn't expected Trump to do so badly. I thought then (and still do) that he preformed horrendously. I don't believe he gave a single answer (or made a single comment) which was in any way factually correct or, if it was, which was in any way appealing. 

And yet, from that moment on, the Trump machine has kept rolling. His popularity has kept growing. To the surprise of many, his favourability rating have increased tremendously. He has, quite simply, gone from strength to strength.

Before the August debate, very few pundits were talking Trump seriously at all. By now, everybody is. Most will still tell you that Trump has little or no chance of actually winning the nomination, but that's a different story. Trump is in this race, he's ahead, and he's not going anywhere soon. He's not some amusing distraction; he's real.

But why? He's not a true conservative at all. He's not Cruz, fighting for "religious liberty". He's not Santorum, with his extraordinarily odd views on abortion and women's rights. He's not Huckabee; he's not Perry. He's not Walker or Bush. In fact, in many ways, he shouldn't really be in this race at all. If you look at what the GOP has, in the years since Reagan, become, you realise that Trump just doesn't fit at all.

Yes, he is a loud-mouthed populist, but that just doesn't seem to explain all that much. As I said earlier, voters might at first find that refreshing, but after a little while, they'll realise it isn't enough. Once they start listening to what he says, and not how he says it, they'll scratch their heads and walk away.

Except that they're not doing that. Why?

Well, I'm beginning to think that the current views the GOP has - on conservatism, on religion and on just about every other "holy" aspect of Republicanism - aren't quite right. I'm beginning to think that the GOP may, in fact, be barking up the wrong tree. And I feel that Trump is making this apparent.

And it's not just Trump, either. You might wish to add Ben Carson to the mix, or Carly Fiorina.

Take, for example, a recent Iowa poll. Trump came in at 23%. But so did Carson. And Fiorina came third with a very respectably 10%. What does that mean? Well, it simply means that no less than 56% of those polled did not  support a Republican politician; instead, they supported a non-politician. And just to be clear, the people polled were "likely Republican caucus voters". The people polled were, essentially, the Republican electorate in that state.  

And the majority of them did not back their own politicians.

In another poll, again conducted in Iowa recently, 75% of likely Republican voters also said that they didn't like  the way Republicans were handling Congress. Republicans politicians hold majorities in both the House and the Senate, but three out of four likely Republican voters just don't like what they're doing.

Now of course these are just polls; they're more or less spur-of-the-moment things. In six months time, in a year's time, all the polls will have changed.

Nevertheless, what these two polls show is that the GOP is doing a terrible job. There's no other way to put it.  And what they also show is that voters - Republican voters - aren't all too happy to hop onto any of the readily available "conservative" bandwagons available. They're not rushing to any of the "real" conservative candidates out there, no matter how vehemently those candidates all profess to pray at the conservative altar. Instead, these voters are reaching out to outsiders, to people like the brash Trump, or, alternatively, the seemingly mild-mannered Carson.

And the reason for this is, it seems to me,  ultimately simple. The current conservative message of the GOP might well be of some importance, but it's not what voters are looking for. What voters are looking for, is someone who will Get Things Done. It doesn't matter if those things are all honest-to-God truly conservative; it doesn't matter if they are all religiously conformist; it doesn't even matter if taxes will never be raised again or if the size of the federal government is drastically reduced. All these things are secondary (or tertiary) at best. 

What matters first and foremost is that Things Get Done. What matters is Thomas Jefferson, and Reagan, and Eisenhower. And not so much Walker, or Perry, or Cruz. 

Republican voters are looking for a real and strong answer to the Democratic challenge. What they're not looking for is some sort of distorted and distasteful version of their own message, thrown in their face in the name of endless Grover Norquist tax pledges, or an ultimately suffocating concept of "religious liberty". 

To advance a conservative message, you don't have to be a radical conservative. In fact, radical conservatism is not advancing anything; it is, instead, self-destructive.

If the GOP doesn't recognise this, and if their politicians do not recognise this, they are in very real trouble indeed. They're going to get trumped big time.

Having said this, I do realise that what I'm saying goes against the grain of just about every other pundit's comments out there. 

Hmm. Perhaps that's why I was struggling.


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