Monday, September 14, 2015
It was just a few short months ago that it seemed likely that Republicans would put forth mainstream presidential candidates for 2016 who, more than ever, mirrored the overall opinions of a majority of Americans on a range of social and domestic issues such as gay marriage, abortion, women's rights, religion and immigration.
It appeared that, finally, the GOP and its leading candidates would focus on the pressing issues of the day that matter greatly to voters: the economy, jobs, wages, education, healthcare, energy and the environment.
To most pundits and strategists on both sides of the aisle, the Republican Party's only hope to win the White House in '16 would be to focus on substantive policy while vastly broadening its tent to include gays, women, young people, blacks and Hispanics. And then came Donald Trump.
Welcome to Trumpalooza. Just when the party appeared headed towards the 21st century, Trump entered the race and sent the GOP clown car speeding back to Crazytown. Curiously, though his regressive behavior has been outrageous and offensive, his popularity and polling keep rising, as does his clear front-runner status. While pandering to the party's lowest common denominator, he's become the biggest political story in decades, just not the one the GOP wants.
The real Trump problem for Republicans is that, just as the party was seemingly on the precipice of meaningful evolution and change, he's single-handedly transporting it back to its ugly, dark, losing days of ignorance and intolerance. The Trumpnado that blasted ashore this Summer consists of fiery race-baiting, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic rhetoric and ad hominem attacks on anything and anyone that gets in his way. And his small, frothing-at-the-mouth radical fringe base is eatin' it up like blood-thirsty zombies on The Walking Dead.
To be sure, Trump's been dominating the liberal and conservative media, sucking all the energy out of the campaign and forcing the more "mainstream" candidates like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Scott Walker to swing far right in order to avoid irrelevance, or worse, extinction. It's been fascinating to watch them tripping over themselves to out-Trump The Donald. But at some point soon all that will end when Republican voters tire of the one they're fucking and start pursuing the one they'll marry.
Until then, rather than expanding its tent by appealing to a broad base of voters, the GOP's limply watching Trump shrink it to feed just the rapacious, red meat-starved extremists. And in the process, no other candidate has been able to break out and gain any traction, especially by discussing what's really important. Jobs? The economy? Education? Healthcare? The environment? Fat chance. It's all 'fat, ugly, disgusting bimbos' and 'Mexican rapists' until the "Orange Clown," as the rock band REM calls him, finally gets out of the GOP's way. But by that time it may be too late.