As November approaches and the United States gears to pick its next president, battle lines are being drawn not only across America, but also within the Republican Party. Senior party leaders are banding together to challenge Donald Trump’s meteoric ascension to the Presidential nomination. With 20 primary wins under his belt, Trump now enjoys the support of 736 delegates with Texas Senator Ted Cruz following with 463 and Ohio Governor John Kasich with 143. It is laughable to call it a 3-corner race as the real estate magnate has maintained a significant lead, with the Republican Party convention in July drawing near.
Yet his rhetoric driven campaign, inflammatory messages against minorities and lack of a policy agenda, has spooked Republican leaders with the prospect of the party being divided in an election year, abandoning the Centre-Right and becoming defined by Brand Trump for years to come.
Prominent Conservative leaders held a meeting in Washington earlier this month for a ‘unity ticket’ against Donald Trump, lobbying delegates and other Republicans to choose a ‘real’ Conservative candidate at the party convention to take on the Democrats. Ex-Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain have issued a warning to the Republican Party over pitching Trump, while a majority of Presidential candidates pushed out of the race have swung their support behind Ted Cruz, hoping he closes the gap before July.
However, the popular will backing Trump is strong. His brand of politics has resonated among multiple age and social groups including minorities as he continues to pick delegates from states with different demographic settings. The anti-Trump campaign despite being loud, is also failing to pick up steam as many Republican leaders are choosing to remain neutral. Even John Kasich, who persists in the race despite dismal support, has rejected overtures from the anti-Trump brigade to drop out and join them. He may tell the cameras he’s the best candidate to stop Trump, but he clearly does not want to irk the Republican front runner. It’s logical. The White House has been out of the hands of the Republicans for eight years, and many cannot ignore the will of the voter base, especially when Trump enjoys a significant lead. Any attempt to stall the nomination at the party convention will look like pure sabotage. Trump sparked moral outrage when he told CNN that such a move would cause riots, yet the Republican Party cannot undermine the backlash they may face.
The best line this week on the state of the Republicans comes from Hillary Clinton, who said, “With Trump, Republicans reap what they sow”. The statement is apt for a party that effectively prepared the platform for the rise of Donald Trump’s political narrative, granting him the recipe to which he added his flair and now dominates the right wing.
The Republicans have always said that the military and economy of the United States has been on the decline, a pitch used as a direct attack on social welfare spending under Democratic governments. The sentiment can be traced back to the Reagan years and is vehemently championed by Trump who repeatedly says, “We don’t win anymore” along with his
infamous campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again’. In their campaign against the welfare state, Republicans have always touted the bogie of ‘Washington insiders’ playing vote bank politics and the need to run the country like a business. Trump oozes that very idea, highlighted in an interview to the New York Times in 1999 where he said,
“My entire life, I’ve watched politicians bragging about how poor they are, how they came from nothing, how poor their parents and grandparents were. And I said to myself, if they can stay so poor for so many generations, maybe this isn’t the kind of person we want to be electing to higher office. How smart can they be? They’re morons.”
Most significantly, Republican leaders have always called for an end to political correctness, as a tactic to prop up their controversial arguments on same-sex rights, minorities, gun control, abortion and racial violence. Trump is anything but politically correct. It is his most endearing quality as a reality TV star and not surprisingly a
Presidential candidate. Ask Trump supporters, and their first line of praise is – ‘He speaks his mind’.
In Trump, the Republicans see the monstrosity of their political stance, shed of all filters – their voters rallying around a Republican leader who is not the run-of the-mill silver-tongued preacher but an audacious self-styled Godman. Trump has just stepped up the outrage, sharpened and prejudiced the Republican plot. The party may feel his manner is ‘brazen’ and ‘unpresidential’ yet for all intensive purposes it is the original Republican message. They must realise that Donald Trump is the man of their dreams. His ascension to the nomination is nothing short of destiny.
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