For years now, conservatives have watched the American political process and asked what the Republicans could be thinking. Commentators from Limbaugh to Beck to Hannity to Levine have wondered out loud whether the Republican Party establishment is simply incompetent or if there is a more sinister collusion occurring. The meteoric rise of Donald Trump seems to have settled this question: They’re just incompetent.
All through the Obama presidency, conservatives have been amazed and appalled not simply by the lack of action on Capitol Hill, but also by the floodgate of excuses opened by the Republican Party. The voters give them the House and they whine they can’t mount an effective opposition without the Senate. The voters give them both houses of Congress, and they blubber on about how they can’t oppose the liberal agenda without the presidency. If the voters give them that, what’s next? Will they need the Secretary Generalship of the UN too?
For some, there seemed to be only two possible explanations for what was happening: Either the Republican Party had been neutered and was now incompetent beyond belief or they were closet leftists themselves who wanted to enforce their own brand of insanity (just with themselves in charge).* Whatever the reason, the observable result was for them to become “Democrats Lite” and, for voters fed up with decades of failed liberal policies, that wasn’t acceptable.
When Donald Trump exploded onto the scene, the country was introduced to a man who apparently wouldn’t simply roll over and play dead. He’s not asking for help or begging your pardon. He’s promising to fight and to be the change his supporters have wanted for so long (whether he will or not is another matter entirely). In doing so, Trump has stepped into the gaping hole the Republicans have created for themselves, and he has become the greatest threat to the party establishment–not to mention real conservatism–in possibly a century.
One would think, if the Republican establishment were the “vast right-wing conspiracy” of leftist legend and lore, that they would do something about it. What their reaction to Trump reveals is, yes, they really are that weak and disorganized. As Mark McKinnon recently observed, “There are no smoke-filled rooms anymore where people control the outcome.” They can’t even control the madman in their own party. What hope could we have that these people could bring the other party’s president to heel? What should we, as voters, expect but more vacillation?
The weakness of the Republican main-line created the Donald Trump phenomenon. It produced the vacuum which Trump has now filled. If he is to be stopped it will have to be by people with real principles–and backbones to match.
*For the sake of simplicity, we’ll leave it at the dilemma. The deeper truth is, quite likely, all of the above.