Three phrases propelled the Trump candidacy to the head of the pack: Red-mapping, Front-loading and Obstructing. In 2010 the Republican Party began implementing their gerrymandering strategy for the creation of a permanent majority in Congress. Through the commandeering of majorities, in most of the state legislatures across the country the republican establishment was able to create permanent conservative congressional strongholds. By creating, perpetual republican districts the party shifted its political center to the far right. The institutionalization of the hard right through dozens of elections to congress, through the Tea Party movement, created an untenable governing scenario which anchored the GOP too far out of reach of the bipartisan center. This led to the further concretization of the majority of republican voters’ dissatisfaction with party leadership. Traditional conservatives, incorrectly, read the tea leaves resulting in equating voter rejection of the mainstream with an appetite for an ultra conservative response. This miscalculation allowed Donald Trump to craft a more centrist message -“I Win”. The consummate deal maker is going to deal us out of our decline; not obstruct Washington but beat Washington. He created an new hard right flank on the issue of immigration and wrapped his message in an authoritarian and xenophobic tone and his campaign lit on fire.
This republican tragic comedy is ripe with irony and here’s where one of those instances comes into play: The potency of Trump’s appeal isn’t just his hard right position on immigration, it is his brand as a winning deal maker; the polar opposite of the M.O. of the hard right flank in congress and their electoral base. Republican populists now want some who will make deals, albeit in the name of winning. Even Trump’s signature position of building “the wall” is qualified by the compromise of a “big beautiful door.” Similarly, take the issue of Obamacare. Trump’s position, in fact the position of much of the republican leadership, has morphed into the compromise of “repeal and replace.” This is a tacit concession that Obama was correct on the need, but wrong on the methods to fixing our broken healthcare system. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, republicans neither acknowledged, nor accepted the premise that there must be any government intervention in the nation’s healthcare delivery system. The Trump bleeding heart mantra that he “will not let people die in the streets” has, apparently not hurt him politically in any quantifiable way.
Without either knowing or articulating the breath and depth of his reasoning behind calling Karl Rove, the famed W. Strategist, a loser Trump hit the nail on the head. He referred to Mr. Rove as a loser because of his superpac’s electoral failures. More poignantly, Red-mapping, the republican gerrymandering plan, was originally conceived by Karl Rove and has now backfired on the establishment.
The second ingredient in the “Trump Soufflé,” was the rejiggering of the republican presidential primary calendar, more popularly referred to as Front-loading. This move was intended to push the south and conservatives into a more prominent standing on the republican electoral calendar. This was also intended to work to the advantage of conservatives and the establishment. The south would set the conservative tone for the party, provide a clear path for the establishment candidate(s) and avoid a long protracted primary fight that goes right up to the convention. Second Irony: with Front-loading, the republican establishment has all but guaranteed a primary fight that not only goes up to the convention but engulfs the convention itself, making it the final republican primary. This calendar has labored fiercely to undergird Trump’s electoral momentum and now the establishment has no choice but to set booby traps to derail the Trump express; the Kasich trap in Ohio and the Rubio trap in Florida. In an unprecedented move in modern political history, the republican establishment is now desperately trying to deny its probable nominee the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. In typical fashion, however, republicans have decided after all of their colossal strategic failures, many of which were powered by rewriting rules, to rewrite the rules of selecting their nominee. With a brokered convention the establishment takes the party back from its voters and further alienates a huge segment of the already dissatisfied electorate.
The final ingredient is simple obstruction. Upon Senator Obama’s ascendancy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), the defacto leader of the then defeated Republican Party immediately declared:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one term president.”
Notwithstanding the fact that obstructionism was the order of day from day one, the strategy failed miserably. President Obama won a second term, handily. But ignoring Einstein’s precept;
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
may result in the voters rebelling, again. Republicans never shifted gears and moved to the bipartisan middle after the second defeat at the hands of Obama. They remained stanch obstructionists, in large measure due to the fanatical right cemented through Red-mapping. What remains to be seen is whether voters will reward strategic obstinacy, in the face of repeated failures.
Trump has brilliantly juxtaposed his “I Win” brand with both the republican Congress’ failures to make winning deals and republican presidential nominees’ failure to win elections. Nothing could have been better orchestrated for Trump than what happened organically, this cycle: the Former nominee, Mitt Romney stepping, directly, into Trump’s line of sight. Trump’s success is a repudiation of republican electoral, legislative and Presidential governance failures over the course of the past 15 years. He has successfully framed the republican narrative as a cohort of losers at every turn. President Bush and Iraq, Senator McCain and his failure as a serviceman and to beat President Obama in 2008, Romney’s failure to beat Obama in 2012, the Congressional republican leadership’s failure to prevent Obamacare and now the failure of this latest crop of 16 republican primary opponents to beat him.
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