By Jack from Manhattan – BarbWire guest contributor
I have long argued, and to the consternation of many of my fellow conservatives, that the populist rise of Donald Trump is a backlash due to the failure of the Republican Party to effectively wield their majorities to stop, or at least oppose, Barack Obama and his slow bleed of the Republic. The usual response is that this is nothing more than a temper tantrum, and that Trump and his supporters are fascists who are hell bent on burning down the Republican Party and that our response should be to burn them down first.
It would be nice to believe that Trump and his supporters just hate the constitution and are the embodiment of the Left’s caricature of the Right. But that lets the Republican leadership off the hook in their never-ending efforts to become more to the liking of the Democrats and the inevitable backlash from people who vote Republican because they want them to be different from the Democrats.
John O’Sullivan has an excellent piece in National Review on the failure of the mainstream Right and how populism is on the rise in America and Europe to fill that void. Among other things, O’Sullivan describes how mainstream conservative parties, in an effort to be liked by the cosmopolitan set, over the years have jettisoned their respect for traditional morality and patriotism for their respective countries. They torpedoed the “social issues” and became entirely focused on economics.
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Doesn’t this sound eerily like the modern GOP? If you remember the “autopsy” from the 2012 election, it was nothing more than a laundry list of ways for the Republicans to become “respectable” by morphing into the Democrat-lite party.
Republicans also became enamored with open borders, endorsing mass immigration (almost exclusively from third world countries where the populace has no love or understanding of self-government), multiculturalism, and sublimating national interests and concerns to international bodies.
The fact is, the Republican Party in the era of Obama (many would say long before that) have blurred the distinctions between them and the Democrats. From spending to immigration to Planned Parenthood to the size and scope of the federal government, the Republicans have abdicated any pretense of their role as the conservative party. That frustration that the country is being lost and that the game is rigged shunts GOP voters into the arms of Donald Trump.
Trump says a lot of the right things on immigration, other than that, he’s not even the least bit conservative. But because Trump gives the appearance of caring what people are concerned about, his campaign has succeeded thus far. No amount of highlighting Trump’s lack of conservatism (and there is no dearth of that to point out) will slow him down. And the GOP itself long-stopped being the vehicle for conservatism.
Consider Jeb Bush’s love affair with Common Core and open borders and John Kasich’s love affair with Medicaid and using the Bible to justify unconstitutional government programs. Chris Christie waffles on the 2nd Amendment and has pro-Sharia judges (and his temp Senator voting for the Gang of Eight bill). Behold Marco Rubio authoring the Gang of Eight bill and pretending it was not amnesty when it was. When you consider that this is where the leadership of the “conservative” party is, Trump’s rise is not surprising.
Meanwhile, the only way to stop Trump that the GOP have come up with heretofore is to call him unhinged, say he’s unserious, or just endlessly pontificate on how stupid people would have to be to consider Trump in the first place.
Two problems with this tack: 1) this involves no actual introspection or evaluation of what the real problem is; and 2) any one with half a brain might have noticed that six months of this approach has yielded nothing but success for Trump and the collapse of any Trump attackers.
There are a few candidates who understand Trump’s appeal, but only one of them has actually been able to pivot to a position where he can leverage his own support. And of course it’s the only candidate in the race the moderate GOP set and the “leadership” hate more than Trump, and that is Ted Cruz.
But of course, all of the “smart people” in the GOP have heretofore denounced Cruz’s strategies of appealing to Trump supporters by embracing Mr. Trump’s role of bringing important issues to the race while offering a constitutional solution. The GOP elite “solution” to the Trump problem is to demand everyone “grow up” and support candidates like Jeb or Kasich, who enjoy lecturing conservatives about the need to get along with the statist Left. Or Rubio, the author of the Gang of Eight bill, which would have ended the GOP and eventually the entire country.
In none of their rhetoric do you get any indication that the GOP as a party has any obligation to be the party of liberty, constitutional government, traditional morality, a strong defense, and being the pro-America party. It’s just “let’s jettison Trump so we can go back to being the party of McCain, Romney, and Dole.”
Just like alcoholism, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. If you don’t see that the rise of Donald Trump and his strain of populism is the result of a problem within the GOP or that they have any role to play, then you can’t fix the problem because you don’t even know what it is.
It’s high time the Grand Old Party woke up, learned a lesson from Trump, and embraced the wisdom of Cruz: we have a nation to save, and precious little time to do so.
First published at SavingOurFuture.com
Jack from Manhattan is Southern Baptist, Black conservative musician (Masters in Music from Columbia), sometimes mistaken for an academic.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.