Fever, headache, joint pain, sore throat, fatigue. Anyone who has played Google doctor knows that these could mean anything from simple aging to the flu to an incurable disease and imminent death. Upon visiting a licensed practitioner, a more accurate cause of such symptoms can more often than not be identified, and appropriately addressed.
That’s how symptoms work: they are on the front lines, and often distract us from the real problem, usually hidden away, unnoticed. In terms of the 2016 US presidential campaign, many point to Donald Trump as the problem. Upon further analysis, he is simply a manifestation of a much more troubling, deep-rooted issue within the Republican Party.
Trump’s nomination and subsequent public demise is yet another utter failure of the GOP. With his nomination, the Republican Party tried to be more inclusive, less elitist. Instead, they made another fatal error from which they may not recover. Donald Trump occupies the disparaging spotlight, but chastising only him is narrow-minded; the entire party deserves criticism of the tallest order.
Trump is not the cause of the drastic downfall, but rather a symptom of a prolonged pathosis which has infected the party for over a generation.
Let’s be honest: Barack Obama should not be the president of the United States. Not for any particular political leanings or philosophies, but for fundamental political tactics.
In his second term as commander in chief, President Obama has accomplished more than expected, especially given an inflexible Congress. From far-reaching restrictions on greenhouse gases to the expansion of a legally secured immigrant base to renewed dialogue with Iran and Cuba and the legalization of same-sex marriage, his to-do list is significantly shorter than most anticipated.
In reality, though, he should never have received the chance to execute those orders. To understand this, we must look back to Obama’s first term in office.
Obama’s first term was also action filled. He ended the US’s combat mission in Iraq; the United States killed Osama Bin Laden under his watch; he signed the American Investment and Recovery Act, significantly reducing taxes for many; and, among other examples, agreed with Russia to reduce the number of strategic nuclear weapons through the New Start Nuclear Arms Treaty.
But there’s no arguing his most famous inclusion: the Affordable Care Act. Colloquially called “ObamaCare,” even the mere possibility of enacting the bill meant, put politely, out-of-the-box thinking. More straightforwardly, this was overt political self-sabotage. As a democratically elected official with aspirations of re-election, this wasn’t just a slight rocking of the boat; this was changing gears completely and purposefully steering the boat directly into the iceberg.
But Obama did it. And while Republicans around the country vehemently denounced it publicly — accusing the Democrats of crimes against free enterprise and their constitutional right to choice — they must have been gleefully grinning privately. Finally, the break they had been waiting for. An opening in the Obama armor, in which he was more vulnerable than he had ever been. So vulnerable, he was now beatable.
With this gifted golden opportunity, what did the GOP decide to do? Nominate Mitt Romney.
Romney, the 70th Governor of Massachusetts, was literally the only candidate who they could not afford to nominate. He was the one person who could not dismantle Obama with Obamacare. Romney, of course, during his tenure as governor, implemented a system akin to that of the Affordable Care Act. He has since admitted that it was indeed a precursor to Obamacare, telling NPR last year that “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare.” He struggled to distance himself from the controversy during the election campaign, ultimately losing to Obama in a landslide.
How do you lose a sure thing? Ask the GOP. Yes We Can.
Fast forward to present day and the latest installment of a slam dunk — see: does anyone actually like Hillary? — where the republicans sought the anti-Romney. Credit where credit is due: they absolutely nailed that one. Given what has transpired over the past three months, that polls nationally are even remotely close is evidence enough that a more capable candidate than Trump would have been leading the GOP to a substantial victory on November 8.
Of capable alternatives, there were plenty. Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz. Ben Carson. Jeb Bush. Chris Christie. Mike Huckaby. Rand Paul. Rick Santorum. All, one by one, fell by the wayside. All can claim long political careers and strong reputations to their credit. All became casualties of the Trump tornado, left in his wake.
The nomination of Trump is yet another blunder of epic proportions. With all due candidness, Trump the man has taken that indiscretion to never-before-seen levels on the national political stage. As Michelle Obama now famously opined last week, in reference to Trump’s sexually charged and arguably predatory comments released on a previously secret recording, “This is not normal. This is not politics as usual.”
No, it’s not. And as much as you can disagree with one’s positions and policies, there are unwritten rules to these types of interactions. Even in war, there is a code. Trump disregards it all, either purposefully, ignorantly, egotistically, or an all-of-the-above-type situation. This, however, is also an exercise in misdirection to the heart of the problem: Trump was nominated. He didn’t force himself on the country, and the world. He didn’t kill, bribe or otherwise coerce his way to the nomination. He earned it. This, likely more than anything, is what really angers people.
Nor should his personality shock anyone. Donald Trump is 70-years-old and has been in the public spotlight for over 40 years. His outspokenness, insensitivity, inane egotism and bigotry are not new revelations. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
What most haven’t mentioned, though, is what Trump the nominee, not Trump the personality, actually represents: a disconnect within the Republican Party of unprecedented proportions. Middle America, where the majority of registered republicans reside, has developed a new trend of despising old money. While experiencing economic hardship, it’s hard to see your political leaders have continued financial success, and refuse any congressional proposal that would help the middle class — old-school republicans in congress have always prioritized the wealthiest first.
So no, Trump is not the cause of the GOP downfall; he’s purely a symptom. A decade of horribly miscalculated decisions has caused this. From not appointing quite viable candidates like Ron Paul, to ruining the capable ones they did nominate — see: Sarah Palin — to not empathizing with what the majority of their voters prioritize, the Republican Party refuses to get it right. Considering who the winner of the 2016 election is likely to be, the victor of the 2020 version should be wearing red. They have four years to win their voters back, and to get it right.