Donald Trump: Mission Accomplished
It is dawning on some that Donald Trump has already fulfilled “the mission” he has been relegated to playing in the presidential election cycle of 2016. Thus, J.M. “Mac” Stipanovich, a lobbyist and Jeb Bush adviser, asserted: “The Republican Party is not going to come out of this in one piece and I think whoever the Republican nominee would be isn’t going to win in November.” Trump, some are arguing, could be stopped at the convention if he didn’t have enough votes to be nominated on the first ballot but “the problem with that is you’re going to have a revolt,” as Rick Tyler, a former Cruz aide, stated.
So, is this to say that Trump’s “mission” was to ensure that the Republicans would not win the presidency in 2016? Indeed, that is the argument. Most people will characterize this as just another “conspiracy theory” and believe it to be so because most people believe that our two political parties are always trying to win every election. And they believe this because they are unaware that each of these two parties is composed of two distinct parts, the establishment part and the insurgent part.
These days, the Republican Party’s insurgents are those like the Tea Partiers, while the establishment part is represented by the likes of John Boehner and Paul Ryan. The party has “splintered,” as the Associated Press put it, a “splintering” that was fed by “conservatives’ gut level resistance to all things Obama – the man, his authority, his policies – [which] gave birth to the tea party movement . . . [but] contained in . . . its triumphs . . . the seeds of destruction, evident now in the party’s fracture over presidential front-runner Donald Trump.” As this analysis put it: “Now the party of Abraham Lincoln is engaged in a civil war, pitting establishment Republicans frightened about a election rout in November against the unpredictable Trump, who has capitalized on voter animosity toward Washington and politicians.”
I would offer two emendations to this analysis. First, the establishment Republicans are not all that frightened by a lost election in November. Indeed, they are rather looking forward to it because then they can claim that, once again, it has been proven that political insurgencies, undertaken as a response to widespread popular unrest and anger, cannot succeed. And they can lay the blame for the defeat on the insurgents, much as establishment Democrats laid the blame for their electoral debacle in 1972 on their insurgents, represented allegedly by George McGovern. That McGovern suffered the defeat he did because the Democratic Party did little or nothing to support his candidacy goes unnoticed. Moreover, what do the establishment Republicans have to fear from a Clinton presidency? Again, the parallel with 1972 is apropos because the establishment Democrats then had little to fear from a second Nixon term.
Second, establishment Republicans, just like establishment Democrats, have little reason to fear losing the 2016 presidential election because it will send the message to all that popular unrest, dissatisfaction, even outrage are not building blocks of “pragmatic politics.” Combined with the certain defeat of Bernie Sanders, who represents the insurgent wing of the Democratic Party insofar as it has such a wing, this message will be heard loud and clear and especially by those youthful voters who have to be taught, as the youth of the 60s had to be taught, that “politics is not nursery school.” Moreover, the lesson that politics and politicians lack the power to do much to alleviate the public’s anger will also be fortified, thereby reinforcing the status quo and the power of the establishment Republicans and Democrats.
In a republic, if one is such only by virtue of aspirations, those who have “the power” and are wielding it in ways that the citizens object to can never be too careful about preserving the status quo and preserving the idea that the status quo is the only “realistic” alternative, politically speaking. This is a lesson that must be taught, time and time again, and if such a teaching requires losing an election, than so be it. The United States is only sustainable as a republic, as Lincoln knew and said time and time again. It was and is the “proposition that all men are created equal,” inserted as Lincoln said into a declaration of treasonous war, that foils all attempts to legitimize inequality, to legitimize the idea that some are booted and spurred, and meant to ride others as if they were less than human. This is what our oligarchs know and, as a result, losing elections in order to maintain the pretense of being republicans matters little. In fact, from the oligarchy’s viewpoint, such losses are not losses at all.
Whether Trump believes anything he is saying is up for grabs. But it is quite fitting that a billionaire, and an arrogant, crass, and vile billionaire, is doing the work of the oligarchy. He may be the “phony” that Mitt Romney said he is, but he is, like Romney, helping our oligarchs solidify their rule. And it is not the oligarchs who are losing this election; rather, it is the American people.