Trump Actually Makes a Good Point

republican-symbolNew Orleans      Donald Trump, the presumed Republican nominee for the presidency, made a very interesting point in a rebuke to Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and also a Republican.  He turned away Ryan’s “wait and see” answer on the question of his endorsement, based on whether or not Trump met certain litmus tests he wanted to use to measure the nature of Trump’s conservative commitments, by not only reminding him that he had 10 million Republican votes mandating change, but also by chiding Ryan on a political philosophy point.  Trump told Ryan, “…I’m a conservative, but don’t’ forget, this is called the Republican Party.  It’s not called the Conservative Party.”

            So, sure, have at Trump.  Call him names, claim he’s a buffoon, or an ignoramus, as Nobel prize economist and Times’ columnist Paul Krugman did, but don’t every make the mistake of believing for one minute that he’s really any of those things.  This guy is clever and quick like a fox.  Underestimating him, as many, maybe most, have done, would, particularly at this point, define stupid, and not the other way around.

            He belled the cow on his comment to Ryan, and on at least this one score all of us have to hope he prevails.

            A republic, classically, is a sovereign state whose authority rests with the people, either directly or through elected representatives.  In a pure, theoretical and practical sense, it differs from a democracy in how it balances individual versus collective rights.  In a republic, individual rights can sometimes prevail over civil or citizen rights.  The United States Bill of Rights protects individual rights.  For example, one vote on a jury can free an accused person in the dock, rather than how the majority might have voted on her innocence or guilt.  In a pure democracy, the majority rules, so 50% plus one assuring the majority interest could make for a democrat and the rights on one individual would make for a republican.  A conservative is by definition resistant to change with a default position respecting how things have been in the past. 

            What Ryan wants is a pledge from Trump that he will genuflect in the direction of what has been the current hard right ideology that has ruled the Republican Party.  The Republican establishment’s disgust with Trump is not necessarily about his xenophobic positions around Muslims or immigrants, but the fact that he is changing the game they have run and the rules they have made.  This dispute with Trump is about power, plain and simple.  Trump is correctly reminding Ryan that a republican is really someone who can cobble the citizens together around their representative positions and respect for their rights.  To the degree Trump has locked into the Republican base, is feeling their pain, and advocating their positions, even when they are abominable, he’s a better Republican, than he is a conservative.  He’s an apostate on the politics and policies of Reagan, the Bushes, the Ryan’s, and a host of others who don’t want change, and he’s all about change.

            Trump certainly shouldn’t be the President of the United States, but on this issue he is one-hundred percent correct, and for goodness sakes all of us have to root for him to blow the bums out of their conservative bunkers and bring change by the bucket load to the Republican ideology and practice.

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How is the Tea Party Able to Escape Taking the Blame for Trump?

image5507293xNew Orleans   It’s hard to avoid the guilty pleasure of reading the “woe-is-me, look what’s happening to the Republican Party” pieces being penned by conservative pundits and party leaders of the newly discredited party “elite.” The main theme has been, “damn, we missed the fact that the white working class was angry about lost jobs, lost income, free trade, immigration, and the featherbedding by the rich!” We still don’t hear enough in the way of mea culpa or “gee, I guess when you play with fire, sometimes you get burned.”

Racism and misogyny are not new problems, but part of the hardwired infrastructure of the Republican Party for more than 40 years. From their much vaunted “Southern strategy” to their embrace of religious pieties and attacks on women’s control of their bodies, these were not inadvertent strategic directions, but calculated paths forward for decades no matter how they are dressed up now.

None of this is current enough to describe the support of Trump by the base. The one thing that is though is the elite’s expedient embrace of the Tea Party movement and its issues within its base and the ham-handed way the party leadership exploited their anger while ignoring their interests. This is interesting to me, because the Tea Party is still not part of the blame-game conversation that is going on about the future of the Republican Party. I think the reason continues to be the Party’s unwillingness to discredit the Tea Party and its Trump-like realities and anger, because the Tea Party as an internal caucus in the Republican Party is still dominant enough to escape both condemnation and accountability.

Obviously it’s tricky for the Republican big whoops to admit to this since Senator Ted Cruz is still a possible option for them, and he’s wearing the Tea Party t-shirt all the way and Senator Marco Rubio, until recently rode the Tea Party to his Senate seat and got caught up in its sleeves when he flirted with a half-step immigration reform plan hoping to have the radicals and the elite backing his bid for the Presidency. But, how long can they get away with this silence? Trump and his phenomenal rise would not have been possible without the Tea Party activists paving the way. Furthermore the fact that too many Republican big whoops flirted with the Tea Party and pretended they were in love with their issues and base in order to get elected, and then left them hurt and crying in the aisle when they went their own way once elected, fuels a vote for Trump “telling it like it is” and kicking the butts of the big wigs.

The Tea Party oriented Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives is another good example of their car driving with the wheels off. Their ideological hero in the Senate is Ted Cruz and they are still out of control and playing with fire, but they are part of the fine line that Speaker Ryan is still walking with his tepid handling of Trump and his reduction to schoolmarm generalizations about manners and good behavior rather than common sense and accountability.

The Republicans have a problem. They can’t win without the radicals and playing with fire, and they don’t have the backbone to face them down and expel them from the party and try and go their own way. They either need to set the tea people free and let them be a separate party or give them the Republican Party and create a new one, because theirs is a house divided and for all of their hand wringing, they still are avoiding dealing with the hard questions and taking the right steps forward.

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