Trump, the Democrats and the Republicans
“The grass-roots political activity of the citizenry and its inseparable adjunct, the entry into political life of nonorganizational politicians, is a constant threat to party organizations. It sparks political ambitions outside their control. It opens new avenues to public renown. It encourages outsiders to enter primaries and gives them a chance to win. It opens to officeholders themselves the opportunity it win public support on their own and thus render themselves independent of the organization. It is therefore the perpetual endeavor of party organizations to discourage and even squash grass-roots movements.” [Walter Karp, Indispensable Enemies, 26]
Make no mistake: The Republican and the Democratic parties have the same agenda when it comes to Donald Trump, viz., controlling him or rendering him as powerless as they can. That is, they will try to either “mainstream” him or they will sabotage his administration. And this agenda is not the product of malevolence. It is merely the result of self-interest.
Have you not wondered by Obama and the Democrats have not said that they will take the tact taken by the Republicans vis-à-vis Obama, i.e., rigid, unbending opposition? It’s because such a strategy would inflame, aggravate those who are actively protesting Trump’s presidency, thereby strengthening those groups and their grass-roots political activity, activity that the party might not be able to control. Such grass-roots activity must be “discouraged” or “squashed” in order for the Democratic Party establishment to maintain its control of the party, control that is, as Bernie Sanders’ candidacy indicated, is tenuous at best.
And for similar reasons the mainstream Republicans are doing their best to “play ball with Trump,” and they will do so as long as the ball game is being played on their field according to their rules. Should Trump try to change the game, as it were, then mainstream Republicans will, by means both fair and foul, place obstacles in Trump’s way. As we all know by now, congressional inactivity, legislative stalemate, is anything but uncommon. Trump will learn that the political arena is not like the business arena at all. As Harry Truman said of Eisenhower: “Ike will say ‘do this’ or ‘do that,’ expecting it to be done, but nothing will happen.” So too Trump will discover that our politicians are most interested in preserving the status quo and, therewith, their own power.
“A party organization is not like a building which, once erected, requires no further human effort. Keeping a party organization intact requires constant and unremitting effort in the face of perpetual and unremitting peril…. From the point of view of a party organization, every elected official is a potential menace.” [Karp, 22-23]
This is especially true with the likes of Donald Trump, i.e., an elected official whose debt to a party organization is miniscule. Trump won the election, but that is all he won so far. And given our party organizations, that does not amount to very much.