So as everyone in power and wealth and media (or some combination thereof) seems to agree that the prominence of Donald Trump is a sign of severe political turpitude the question naturally arises: “What will we masters of the universe do to prevent this from happening again?”
My guess is nothing but then again I’m a cynical gadfly.
One one level, Trump’s rise so-far has been fueled by specific mechanisms in the primary system which reward outlandishness and punish innovative thinking to say nothing of sobriety and discretion.
One example is the prevalence of closed primaries. Because I, for example, am not a registered Republican and I live in New York which has closed primaries, I cannot vote against Trump in the primary. That means that sane voices who happen to have registered no party (like me) or even, let’s face it Democrats cannot act as a lid on kookiness. [Technically, this problem also applies to Democrats, however in practice, it expresses less frequently in that party.]
Even below that we must acknowledge that gerrymandering, the first-past-the-post election system, the Electoral College and even the election of senators instead of their appointment have deeply entrenched the two-party system and moreover have enabled addle-pated, stale thinking and have encouraged non-representative representation.
The perception that politicians are bought-and-sold through campaign finance is damaging. Though I think the left over-rates the importance of Citizens United as a cause, it is certainly a symptom. This frustration with ‘the system’ is real and valid and it is something that Trump is tapping into.
I still believe that the much loathed ‘party establishment’ will pull out all the stops to sink Trump if he looks likely to actually take the nomination but I could be wrong on this.
In many ways, Donald Trump reminds me of an age-old practice for raising property taxes in jurisdictions where a referendum is required to do this.
Suppose that you want to raise taxes by 5% but know that your electorate will never approve it. First propose something truly outrageous, like a hike of 15%. After the furor dies down—preferably with a staged ‘defeat’ at the ballot box—propose your 5% rise.
The electorate will be fooled into comparing the 5% rise to the 15% rise, instead of the present taxation rate. It will seem palatable. Even the anti-tax diehards, the ones who picked and yelled and threatened to secede or move to Canada will be taken in. “See! We got them to back down!” They’ll gloat. “We won!”
Tail wagging the dog, no offense to dogs.
Most conservative and all liberal commentators have for an age now been saying things like “After Trump’s support dissipates” and “When Trump’s candidacy implodes” and so on and so forth.
Well, the debate is over and this moment of which you speak, it has not occurred. Sure: tomorrow the distinguished commentators will all write the usual pieces only the party faithful care about in their respective publications that only the party faithful read saying that “the debate just drives home the fact that Donald Trump has no substance.”
Then why did the entire debate revolve around the candidates attacking him? The entire debate was completely superficial. It doesn’t matter. We are talking about one political party that has lost its f—king mind one political party that’s half-way to omnishambles and an electorate that NO good options.
To be clear: I am not saying Trump’s candidacy will continue its preeminence. Maybe one of the other candidates will pull his head out of his ass and get somewhere but the idea that it’s guaranteed to flop is clearly wrong.
“It could … largely [neutralize] a debate that a majority of Americans believe Republicans are on the wrong side of — and well ahead of the party’s 2016 presidential primaries.”
Yeah right, just like Roe V. Wade totally “neutralized” the debate over abortion… In reality, Roe grossly inflamed passions and quashed a growing, state-level movement. It will be the same here, this will make things far, far more acrimonious. It will not offer the G.O.P. cover, it will make the insurgency even worse and might contribute to the party’s already severe risk of selecting a non-viable candidate.