Great rant from a conservative writer on Trumpism and the slow mental meltdown of otherwise solidly sane (if mistaken) conservative media figures. I continue to think that most of those public figures who've gotten on the Trump bandwagon are those whose political careers are over or nearly so and who are hoping for some long tails to grasp. But I digress.
I was reminded this weekend that only something like 23% of the electorate identifies as Republican. There are some states where party affiliation doesn't really matter and you get to vote wherever, but there are an equal number (according to the National Coalition of State Legislatures) that are closed, and many more that are hybrid, including some that vary election-to-election. I think it's fair to say that open primaries are not the majority. Therefore, it's also somewhat more likely that those people who care about Republican candidates and politics and are primary voters would register as Republicans. So why is less than 1/4th of the electorate so registered and are these registered Republicans actually for Trump?
Cruz has been arguing lately that he is doing better with "actual" Republicans - that is, caucus and closed-primary states whereas Trump's majority is being drawn from non-registered, independent, and crossover voters. That's plausible, I suppose, but if Cruz's base is something like 12% of the electorate man does HE have an uphill battle ahead of him.
But to return to today's topic, if it's not "actual" Republicans who are voting for Trump, a proposition I accept, then is it fair to blame Republicans for his ascendancy? I still think the answer is "mostly yes" and that we ought to be mindful this is the party that gave us Joe McCarthy and the John Birch Society, a couple of last century's worst stains on the body politic. The party has embraced fear, divisiveness, and negativity for decades as its path to power. It beat Democrats in the South by appealing to blue-dog conservatives who had freaked out at the dismantling of Jim Crow - the natural backers of the disgraceful George Wallace and his ilk. Then it embraced the Tea Party and banged the drum ever more loudly about how bad government was, all the while forgetting that it (the Republican party) WAS the government.
The Republicans have provided a national stage and media circus for fear and demagoguery that exists in a universe parallel to the one Jonah Goldberg writes about. In Goldberg's universe Conservatives genteelly debate ideas; out in Fox Newsland, the bobbleheads shriek about terror(ism) and the war on Christians. The Republicans laid the ground and brought in the audience because that audience - at least in name - bought them majorities in both houses of Congress.
It ought not to be a surprise that after a decade of telling people how bad government is the public finally decides to reject the Party's candidate of choice, be he Bush, Rubio, Romney, or really any other interchangeable establishment suit-filler. Say what you will about Ms Clinton - and she's certainly the insider's insider - but she is not a standard-issue candidate by any means.
It's this stage of fear, anti-government rhetoric, and rejection onto which Trump has sprung and Kanye West-ed the mic. As he did so, the Republicans also failed to understand the 21st century media landscape and the way in which Trump is able to use it. When they sent Mitt (why him of all people?) to attack Trump, the first thing Trump did was use Twitter to insult Romney. I doubt Romney has ever sent a tweet in his life; I'm not even sure he knew what one was until his aides had to explain how he was being lambasted.
I suspect this will not change, particularly not in the next day during which we'll see a majority of voters in Republican primaries not be Republicans, and a majority of Republicans not vote for Trump. Yet I expect Trump to garner enough votes from the rest of the voting population to win most of the states and increase his lead. (FiveThirtyEight's predictor has Trump way up in Florida but falling off sharply in Ohio where they're giving Kasich an 87% chance to win.)
It's not the Republicans' fault, exactly. And yet I think it is.