‘President Donald Trump of the United States, POTUS.’ That phrase if uttered in certain parts of the Republican establishment, would send shivers down the spines of many. It would send them into paroxysms of grief concerning an event that has not yet happened. It would make many conservatives have nightmares where they can be heard screaming the aloud, the words ‘Trump! Trump! No! Trump!’, while at the same they sob in their sleep.
And when they are awake, should you dare to utter the phrase ‘Donald Trump, next president’; some country club-like gentlemen would feel like folding up their shirt sleeves and giving you a sucker punch. But that phrase which is currently is a dream of many that is very likely to become reality come November this year. To borrow the Game of Thrones phrase ‘Winter Is Coming’ to the Republican establishment.
Why does the Republican establishment feel so uneasy about Donald Trump? He is everything they are not. He has never held any public office before, unlike former Governor Jeb Bush, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Ohio Governor John Kasich, just to mention a few. One of the rites of joining the Republican establishment is that one would be expected to have held some previous political post or the other, before being taken seriously in attempting the highest post of all – the US presidency.
Even one of the noblest politicians to come from the Republican Party’s stables, Abraham Lincoln held several political offices before he ran for president. But here is a man who has spent most of his life as a businessman suddenly leading the field and becoming the presidential front-runner of the Republican Party. That must be rankling to a lot of people right now.
Added to that, Donald Trump cannot be classified as your everyday conservative. He is too pro-abortion, to secular, to pragmatic to be pigeonholed as a conservative. And the Republican Party is ‘supposed to be the home of conservatives’. Either you are a fiscal conservative or you are a social conservative. If you are a social conservative, you are expected to be very much opposed to abortion and a woman’s right to choose (even if she is raped). But instead Donald Trump is seen by many Republican politicians as representing the ‘loser liberal values of New York’, that stronghold of liberalism.
If you are a fiscal conservative, you are supposed to be for Small Government like Ronald Reagan. That is, you are supposed to favor yuge and champion hikes in government spending, but only in military industrial complex issues. You are expected to favour tax cuts and huge cuts in funding of welfare projects. But here is Frontrunner Donald shouting that the war in Syria should be outsourced to Russia, and that America isn’t meant to be the global Policeman, spending fortunes running military bases in Japan and South Korea.
Here is a Donald Trump berating establishment hero and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for not raising taxes to tackle a $2.2 billion deficit and fund schools and roads in Wisconsin. That departure from Republican orthodoxy by their uncontrollable frontrunner must be sending sweat beads of worry down the faces of many in the Republican establishment right now.
So, what caused the rise of Trump? For many years, the handwriting has been on the wall for the establishment but they purposely looked away from it. The Republican grassroots initially communicated its displeasure at what the establishment was doing in Washington by firing a warning shot, called the Tea Party Movement. The Tea Party was ostensibly aimed at Democratic President Barak Obama and his
The Tea Party was ostensibly aimed at Democratic President Barak Obama and his neoliberal policies, but it was a subtle signal to the Republican establishment that, ‘Hey we are not happy with what’s going on, and we are losing confidence in your ability to make the required difference’. Instead of doing some soul-searching following the emergence of the Tea Partiers, the Republican establishment decided to try and domesticate the Tea Party, and hate its ambassador on Capitol Hill, Ted Cruz.
It was tolerated, rather than listened to, and allowed to die a natural death without so much as a lesson being learnt. The establishment never sat down and said, ‘Hey, why did our grassroots have to form a Tea Party when they already had a Republican Party’? They instead characterized the Tea Part as a trend that would soon fade. And fade it did, only for a more uncontrollable force to emerge from its ashes.
That force is not begging to be listened to but is claiming the right to dictate what must happen, and the Republican Establishment doesn’t like that one bit. But sadly, the grassroots seem to have decided that they would stick to this new force of Trump Republicanism, cutting off the establishment – and the establishment just hasn’t been able to believe that they have been cut off from guiding the future of their Grand Old Party.
For so long the Republican establishment didn’t face up to reality. Instead they buried their heads under the sand. They chose to deal with Trump the same way they dealt with the Tea Party, believing that if they ignored him , he would go away. They and their cadet branch in the right wing media spent the first few months of Trump’s candidacy cracking dry jokes at his expense and speculating about when he would ‘eventually drop out’. By the time they realized that the Donald and the Republican grassroots meant business, it was too late for them. The Donald had won a Republican primary.
The establishment then sat up with a start and began to organize what they have termed the ’Never Trump’ Movement. But disappointingly for them, although they have succeeded in slowing Trump’s momentum, they have not killed it. As far as stopping Trump is concerned, they started the real battle to late. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney have all tried to lead brave cavalry charges against the phalanx that is the Trump campaign but have failed to break it.
The Anti-Trump movement is a waste of time. They lack unity of purpose (other than the broad aim of stopping Trump) and central coordination; and there is little willingness of candidates to surrender their presidential ambitions and support a central candidate. Billionaire businessmen involved in politics like the Koch Brothers and Michael Bloomberg that would have come with funds and resources have looked at the movement with the critical eyes of businessmen and seen this.
It is now time for the establishment in Washington to stop fighting Trump, and instead negotiate with him. Trump is a dealmaker that has called severally for the Republican Party to unite. That is a signal that he is open to making deals that would see the establishment not totally cut off from power.
The establishment should create a foothold in the Trump presidency, by negotiating for the positions of Vice President and a few strong cabinet positions. That way, they ensure that they have a voice in the coming Trump presidency – should he beat Hillary Clinton – and a living hope that they would survive.