This week saw the end of both Ted Cruz’s and John Kasich’s presidential campaigns, as well as the death of modern conservatism — killed off by a guy who bears more than a passing resemblance to an Oompa Loompa.
Well, he did it. Whatever else can be said about Donald Trump (and that’s plenty), he certainly lived up to his name. To “trump,” according to the American Oxford Dictionary, is to “beat someone (or something) by doing or saying something better.” There’s no doubt Trump did that. He proved better at rousing the rabble than the rest of the Republican presidential field.
Let’s be honest. We all laughed when Trump rode the “down” escalator into history to declare his candidacy for president. Now that moment seems like a metaphor for the rapid decline of contemporary conservatism, with Trump’s ascendancy as a candidate.
We all knew, just knew, that this would be worth a few laughs. Right-wing pundits like NY Times Ross Douthat predicted again and again that would never be the nominee.
Trump won't be the nominee, but Chait is underestimating the craziness that would ensure if he were: https://t.co/ZzZN7J8Zqy
Trump polish his “brand,” boost his name recognition for another season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” and bow out before things got real. After all, Republicans had an incredibly “deep bench” for the 2016 presidential election. Out of 17 candidates, including Trump, the other 16 included four current governors (Kasich, Christie, Jindal, and Walker), five former governors (Bush, Gilmore, Huckabee, Pataki, and Perry), four sitting US senators (Cruz, Rubio, Paul, and Graham), and one former Senator (Santorum). Surely of them, most likely Jeb Bush, would rise from the pack.
No way would the GOP end up with a bankruptcy-prone reality TV star with a awful spray tan and an absurd combover as its nominee and de facto leader.
But the “deep bench” was decimated, and then there were three where there had been 17. Then came the Indiana primary. Suddenly Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) were finished. Trump was the last candidate standing, and the presumptive nominee.
Conservatives began tearing their hair and rending their garments almost immediately.
Radio Michael Savage echoed Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “I have a dream, I have a real dream, that Donald Trump wins. Oh, do I have a dream. I have a dream that when Donald Trump wins, the new Justice Department goes after the ACLU. I have a dream that all the Marvins and the Glorias and all their ill-gotten gains will be seized by the government and they will either run for the hills or be thrown in the slammer. I have a dream that when Donald Trump becomes president, George Soros finds that there’s not a country on earth that he can hide in because he is hated around the world for what he has done to every currency on the planet. I have a dream.”
Some are already striking out. In Washington, DC, a Muslim woman says she was attacked by a Trump supporter while sitting outside a coffee shop. Video shows a woman yelling in the victim’s face and then returning to douse her with a bottom of liquid. “A Caucasian lady walked right past me,” the woman said. “Then as soon as she sat down she started talking about me. Saying ‘F-ing Muslim. Trash, worthless piece of Muslim trash. You all need to go back to where you came from.” “She says if Donald Trump wins the nomination I’m going to vote for him so he can send all of you all back to where you came from,” she told WJLA.
How did this happen? How did Republicans come to nominate a man who, according to a new CNN poll, is viewed unfavorably by 64 percent of women, 73 percent of nonwhites, 70 percent of voters under 35, 67 percent of college graduates, and 57 percent of moderates — constituencies with whom, four years ago, Republicans hoped to improve?
Easy. Feed your base a steady but slightly watered-down diet of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and con jobs. When a con man comes along offering them undiluted racism, sexism, and xenophobia, they’ll be primed and ready to follow him anywhere.