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The GOP… imploding or exploding?

January 20, 2016

Many media outlets including such stalwarts as the Washington Post are currently reporting (or perhaps theorizing) that the GOP is resigned to a Trump v. Cruz nominating contest.   You have to ask whether the Grand Old Party is merely adapting to life in the 21st century or temporarily capitulating to the far right to retain its brand.

After waiting vainly for the two most talked about GOP rivals to either self-destruct or come begging to the party elite for their support, it has to be disconcerting to discover that maybe the party apparatus isn’t relevant to either the voters or the candidates in this election cycle.

While the stodgy world of politics as usual tries to find its footing again, Trump and Cruz sail merrily along with fully billowed sails.

Both men typify the real anger and frustration of a long-disdained class of voter, i.e. the average American, aka the silent majority. You know, the stupid ones that can’t think for themselves.

Neither candidate has been seen as a real threat to take the general election from Hillary Clinton.  The candidate polling as the most likely  to beat her has been the distant third-place contender, Marco Rubio.

With the newest revelation that the Democrat’s front-runner had enough highly sensitive classified material on her relatively insecure home server to make Edward Snowden’s document dump look like a high school yearbook, that may no longer be the case.

Leaving aside the question of whether Ms. Clinton committed sins of omission or commission, it is becoming harder for even the most stalwart Democrats to overlook Bernie Sanders.

That could make the general election a wide-open free-for-all.

One indicator of the oddities in this election cycle is Cruz’s attempt to paint his chief rival as an “establishment candidate.”  Mr. Trump might be a lot of things, but a typical Republican establishment hanger-on he probably isn’t.

Mr. Cruz makes a lot out of his no compromise, fight-the-good-fight-regardless-of-how-futile-the-chance-of-victory political style.

Many voters, Republicans as well as those who self-identify as independents, can see that hasn’t worked very well. If tilting at windmills is a political strategy, they want no part of its inevitable pyrrhic victories.

Trump is hardly a “pure” conservative.  He is excruciatingly honest about playing both sides of the fence to get anything done in his business life.

Despite the traditional political ramifications of that approach, it reflects the reality of most American’s lives and maybe their political character.

Most Americans have shades of gray in their own lives.  Maybe they love their spouse to pieces, but hate their in-laws. They learn how to compromise to make that work.  They accept that there is a time to trade in the Corvette for a family car. They may be violently opposed to abortion, but in favor of birth control.

That, more than anything else might help to explain Trump’s appeal to the middle of the voting bloc.

Instinctively they understand that balancing on a pedestal only means that it is easier for someone to take you down with a single blow.

It remains to be seen if the Republican party will adapt to circumstances gracefully or become a mid-century fringe party.

With the first four contests to be decided this month, it might be time for the party to decide whether it stands for the country or only for itself.

From → op-ed

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