As I watched last night’s Republican Presidential Debate, watched over by G.W. H. Bush and Barbara, who supplied the establishment presence, I couldn’t help but feel how strange this all must be for the Republican Establishment. I’m not talking about the donor Class represented by the Koch Brothers, who are political radicals at heart, having been raised in the John Birch Society. I’m talking about the every day elite Republicans who make up their corporatist establishment and the majority of their feckless politicians who have been well bought by their money and are dazzled by their power. Donald Trump is far out front at this point in the race for the nomination and these “party leaders” don’t have a clue why he is winning, or what they can do to stop him.
The Republican Party, since Reagan’s election, has been using a form of ““Bait and Switch” to win elections. The “bait” used tends to address certain population segments. The “bait” for Christian Fundamentalists is banning abortion, opposition to allowing homosexuals full citizenship and opposing women’s equality. The “bait” for the racist segment is coded words for oppression of people of color and xenophobia based on ethnicity. The “bait” for the fearful segment is a muscular foreign policy and an active military, making war on anyone who “threatens our country. The “bait” is the pretense that America’s taxes are too high. The “bait” for the politically minded is a form of Conservative belief, that has been sold to these shallow thinkers, as a set of “principles” that are readily abandoned when expediency calls. Over all, the picture is rounded out with expressions of distrust and hatred for government at all levels.
As the years have unfolded we see the “switch”. Somehow abortion never gets outlawed. Somehow homosexuals have been achieving equality. Somehow women have also begun to achieve equality as well. When it comes to people of color we see that that Republican promise has been kept, looking at our prisons over-crowded with people of color, yet there is a frustration among their ranks that people of color haven’t been re-enslaved. A poll found 20% of those who voted for Trump believing we should bring back slavery. The real switch comes when it comes to taxes, since although an undue tax burden falls on the middle and lower classes, the economic benefits derived from reduced taxation on the 1% and corporations, has never “trickled down” to the rest of the country that shoulders the burden.
What the Republicans have created is a country that is constantly at war and has a larger defense budget than the next 9 military countries combined. Another part of the “switch” pulled on Republican voters is that while they’re being told that government is a failure, they are also being exhorted to blindly support the most bloated government program, our military. While they have been persuaded to mistrust government, they have also been told to trust Law Enforcement Officers, who also are part of the hated government. The truth is that those Republican voters who have taken the “bait” are never going to get those issues they care about resolved in their favor. To do so would leave the Republican Party naked as the party of wealth, which is what they are in truth. They need these issues to keep festering as a constant source of anger for their base.
Lincoln’s saying that you can’t fool all of the people, all of the time, has come to fruition in the campaign of Donald Trump, who is probably among the most corrupt people ever to run for the Presidency.
. In Trump we have the ultimate reality TV star, a crude, boorish person, who is supplying the image of the quintessential Republican Candidate, by ignoring all of the rules of polite political discourse. Trump, as we see him, is a brand and not a person. His “success” is clouded in a haze of masterful public relations and a public that has been primed for someone like him, after forty years of well financed political propaganda. The problem that the Republican Party stalwarts have with Trump is that he has played the “bait and switch” game better than they and he has done it because he understands that the “bait” is exactly that, fodder for the maw of people, who long for an authoritarian leader to tell them everything will be fine.
So we see a true mix of doctrinaire conservative and crazy evangelicalist like Ted Cruz, failing to win his base and floundering in his lack of likability. We see another true conservative and evangelical like Marco Rubio, flailing for votes, as he tries to portray himself as a moderate, who can bring the Party together. The Truth is, as the demographics of the vote for South Carolina indicate, the real accomplishment of the Republican Party over these many years, has been to prime their voters pump for an authoritarian leader, who will represent and appeal to their worst instincts. The thing about authoritarian leadership is that the message they give might be couched in doctrinaire political terms, but the real selling is based upon portraying an image of power that is a simulacrum of leadership.
So Cruz and Rubio attacking Trump’s conservative bona fides becomes an exercise in futility, that misses the point. It is not what Donald Trump says, it is how he says it. The contempt he shows for his opponents and the contempt he shows for the government he will run, is what is selling those people voting for him. A Party that has been contemptuous of government for forty years, has now found a leader who will champion that contempt fully. So we see Trump winning in all the demographics in South Carolina and Nevada, because it isn’t the message, it isn’t the political philosophy, it’s the man who tells them follow me and I will make America great again. Whether or not those who are voting for Trump even believe him is irrelevant, because they have found the authoritarian “Leader,” that the Republican 40 year paid propaganda campaign has primed them for and he is in their narrow view, an aristocrat worthy to lead their sorry asses.