In a stunning (only in the sense of its counter-productivity) event, Mitt Romney recently held a press conference for the sole purpose of disparaging the front-running candidate for his own Party’s 2016 Presidential nomination. You may remember Mitt. He was the GOP Establishment’s pick to go up against Barak Obama in the 2012 election. By 2008, the bloom was well off the Obama “Hope and Change” rose. Apparently assuming that the election was in the bag, Mitt chose not to challenge Obama with respect to any of his many failed policies. And so Mitt sat on his hands while the 2012 election slipped away. Instead of driving Republican voters to the polls, he drove them to stay home (in droves). Many remain of the opinion that Mitt lost the most easily winnable Presidential election within memory.
In spite of his stunning loss in 2012, Mitt nonetheless apparently believes that he is qualified to judge the qualifications of other GOP Presidential candidates. He began his analysis by launching a broadside attack against Donald Trump (whose endorsement Mitt sought and received during Mitt’s lackluster campaign in 2012). By way of apparent gratitude, Mitt called the most popular candidate in the Republican primary process a “fraud,” “lacking Presidential timbre” and “unqualified” to occupy the White House who is, essentially, and deliberately “misleading” the American voters (particularly those gullible Republican primary voters).
Good grief. Has the Republican hierarchy lost its collective mind (an obvious rhetorical question)? The Establishment has abandoned Ron Reagan’s “Eleventh Commandment” (“Thou shall speak no ill of a fellow Republican”) in favor of some sort of political hate speech (“Thou shall criticize, insult, and demean any other Republican candidate who stands between you and the White House”). Do the leaders of our Party not realize that the natural consequence of this incessant bickering is to ensure that all of the candidates, including the ultimate nominee, will stumble out of the primary process mortally wounded for the general election? How do we justify destroying the character, credibility, and honesty of all of our candidates before the Democrats even lay a glove on them?
The reduced number of debates and shortened primary season (compared to 2012) were supposed to help prevent the candidates from cannibalizing each other. The actual impact of these modifications is that the candidates have felt it necessary to hurl even more invective at each other to compensate for this year’s compressed primary time frame. Instead of meaningful debate with an occasional gratuitous barb, the debate appearances of all of our candidates devolved into acts of slander, libel, invective, mistruth, outright lie, and character assassination–leaving little time for examination of important issues. Those who characterized the GOP debates as being the political equivalent of a WWE “cage match” were not far off the mark. How can the Party leadership allow this self-destruction to occur, let alone continue for the entire primary season?
One of the original objectives of Honey I Shrunk the Government was to offer constructive advice to the GOP. But the Party may well be beyond mere constructive criticism. If the Party will not, or cannot, control the tenor of its candidates’ rhetoric, then the Party will surely self-destruct. Corruption, greed, self-interest, and apathy appear to be so ingrained in the current GOP Establishment that there may be little hope for overcoming the vitriolic patina that most of the primary candidates acquired.
Let’s take a candid look at the consequence of the Establishment’s attempt to bring pressure to bear from multiple sources with a view to destroying Donald Trump as a viable candidate for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. Consider the nominees that the Party has put forward in 1988 (George H.W. Bush), 1992 (George H.W. Bush), 1996 (Bob Dole), 2000 (George W. Bush), 2004 (George W. Bush), 2008 (John McCain), and 2012 (Mitt Romney)–all Presidential candidates for whom the Establishment likely orchestrated or manipulated the nomination process to ensure that the “appropriate” candidate managed to at least limp across the primary finish line. None of the above-mentioned nominees was a particularly inspiring candidate that primary voters would have selected on their own. Instead, the voters deferred to the GOP leadership and, by and large, supported the Establishment’s nominee of choice. All of those Establishment candidates either lost handsomely or were elected marginally and conducted their administrations in very Democrat-like, tax and spend fashion. H.W.’s win in 1988 was likely attributable to the desire of the folks to continue the Reagan Revolution, and W.’s wins in 2000 and 2004 were likely attributable to the weakness of his Democrat opponents (Al Gore and John Kerry respectively).
And so, Republican voters, having had quite enough of years of Presidential loses or misery at the hands of the Establishment, have come up with a novel solution–namely, selecting a non-Establishment candidate like Donald J. Trump. And the GOP Establishment’s elitist response has been truly amazing. After years of expecting fealty from Republican voters for lousy, losing, legacy nominee selections by the Establishment, the Party’s response to Donald Trump has been–“Voters? What do they have to do with our selection process? We know what’s best for the Party and its members will eventually come to appreciate our wisdom and perspicacity.” The conventional beltway position seems to be that, if the voters lack the instinct to select a candidate who will play ball with the GOP Establishment, then the Establishment will just have to do what is needed to make sure the voters don’t hurt themselves or the country (or jeopardize the Establishment’s sinecure).
Having worked very hard to incur the wrath of grass roots Republicans since 1996 or before, the Establishment has decided to double down with arrogance, condescension, underhandedness, and electoral duplicity.
The Party seems intent on spinning into a self-induced death spiral. The Party professes to be concerned about the tenor and temperament of its putative nominee, Donald Trump. What the Party really needs to concern itself with, however, is the fact that more and more of the Party faithful are ready, willing and able to take a political hike–and it is only the prospect of a Trump candidacy that is holding them in check.