I don’t think many people understand just how screwed the Republican Party is with Donald Trump in the race.
His mouth means there is absolutely no way he can ever be elected, and there’s little chance he’ll ever get the nomination. However, the GOP leadership find themselves between a rock and a hard place right now, and it’s beautiful to watch.
This isn’t a new development, either; it’s what happens when a political party pins its entire political hopes on an ever-shrinking group of voters that is extremely loyal, but completely batshit.
If it seems as if Republicans are afraid of Trump, they are, and there are a lot of reasons for it. For one thing, every vote that he gets makes it just a little harder for the party to put up a potentially strong candidate. Even though he’s not likely to get the nomination, he could end up as a potential “king maker” at the convention, so no one wants to get on his bad side. Plus, if they piss him off, he may be able to run a credible independent campaign that could make the 2016 election look like 1964 for the GOP.
The GOP has screwed itself royally by ceding more and more control of the party to an ever crazier right wing, and what’s happening with Trump has everything to do with the Party’s dependence on the Tea Party loons.
See, here’s the problem. Most Republicans are loyal voters, extremely loyal. Most of them always show up to vote and won’t even consider voting for anything but a Republican. The turnout rate among Republicans is usually around 90% or even higher, and if it goes below 80%, it becomes almost impossible for them to win. The last time that happened was in 1992, and you’ll probably remember what happened to the Republican incumbent that year.
Republicans know this, but they also know that their base has shifted more in recent years than ever before. The Tea Party are actually not very loyal to the party; they are far more loyal to their ridiculous “ideology,” such as it is. No matter how crazy they seem, they believe that shit and they have no patience for anyone who doesn’t. They also like loud a lot more than right, which is why they love Trump. Trump is loud, obnoxious and profane, and no matter how stupid his rhetoric, they love him because, in their words, he says what’s on his mind and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. What they actually mean by that is, he pisses off liberals. They think anything that makes us react “pisses us off,” so the fact that Trump is ridiculous makes him attractive to teabaggers.
In short, the problem Republicans have is, if Trump peels off voters for an independent bid, he will peel off a number of hardcore Republican teabaggers with him, as well as a good portion of right wing independents. That means there will be no way for the GOP candidate to get the 80% he needs to even have a shot at winning.
They can’t even yell at him to make themselves look good, because they won’t actually look good to their “base” in the Tea Party. The reason GOP candidates sound like loons is because their base is made up of lunatics these days, and their margin of error is so razor-thin, they can’t afford to piss any of them off. If they are seen yelling at Trump, a significant amount of their support will go by the wayside and sink the party’s already dismal chances.
I saw this coming in 2010, when I attended the Rally to Restore Sanity, held by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I couldn’t help but notice the high volume of teabaggers protesting in the area, and a large number were hoping that Donald Trump would run for president, for precisely the same reasons they cite now; he’s a “plain speaker,” “tells the truth” and “says whatever is on his mind.”
The GOP is royally screwed; they have a turd in their punch bowl and they can’t fish it out because, no matter what they do, it will spoil the rest of the punch. The only question is, can progressives take advantage of it? They’ve been self-destructing for years now, but we keep handing them elections. In 2016, they are likely to have no coattails at all, which means we have an opening bigger than any in the last 40 years to take Congress and take it big.
Of course, it means rallying 100% behind Democrats. Can we, if it means the end of the GOP?