I mean, they’re in a trap crafted from the pernicious intersection of their unabashed hostility to certain sections of the American populace, and their systematic denigration of the role of intellectuals in shaping the public debate. To quieten their flock, they cried wolf, forgetting that the storied wolf exists and he’s here now and it’s his party.
In election years that pretended to have some relation to normalcy, any of the 200 or so repulsive comments Trump has made over 15 months would have ended his bid for the presidency before there was any danger than he might actually be the nominee. Past candidates have certainly paid a higher price for lesser behaviour.
Perhaps the biggest and most damaging myth that the Trumpkins clung to was that the traits that endeared him to the activist base in the primary elections would carry through to the general all the way to the White House. But they didn’t.
‘Teflon Trump’ only ever existed in the diminutive echo chamber of the Republican primary process. His repeated stumbles and character revelations in the general election are emblematic of a braggart who is elevated only by the fall of others.
We are now in the fall of the campaign. And between the idea of the Trump campaign and the reality of a Trump presidency, falls the shadow of Trump’s incoherent rage.
The only move Trump has left is to scorch the earth and break the party and process that brought him this far. On this front, he’s doing a fairly thorough job. There will be no magnanimous concession for Trump, no elevation to party elder status, no comparison to past Republican luminaries. But still, Trump and Trumpism will not diminish into their earned darkness.
Upon this loss, his rages will be terrible, his retribution total and enduring.
In the 2018 primary elections there will be no safe space for Republicans. Those whom stood with him in every toxic moment of his campaign have no future in politics, their chance for legacy scattered. Those that never stood with Trump will face accusations of disloyalty from their right, but will ultimately come out unscathed as the leaders of the post-Trump Republican Party.
But by far, those that will have the worst time are those who rescinded their support. There will be no quarter for them. They will face internal revolt and external attack. The Trump flank of the party will blame them for their candidate’s loss and will withhold funding and support. Their opponents in the general election will capitalize on this acrimonious split between the factions.
Make no mistake, over the past 15 months we have witnessed the public death spiral of the Republican Party. That Donald Trump could beat out a field of committed, brilliant, well-funded, and conservative candidates speaks to just how much the establishment Republican Party misunderstood the anger that roiled the anti-establishment base. This is the way their world ends.
It is difficult to have patience or sympathy for people who either refused to act until it was too late, or refuse to act still. Trump today, is no different to the Trump that has existed in the mainstream for the past 25 years. There is no New Trump or Trump 2.0 or any other iteration of him that can escape the dominant narrative that he is unfit for any elected office, let alone the Presidency.
And the only noise coming from the increasingly hollow Republican leadership is a piercing silence.
DISCLAIMER: These opinions are those of the author, not of Flinders University or other affiliated institutions.
Jesse Barker Gale is a PhD candidate in American Studies at Flinders University’s School of History and International Relations. Barker Gale has a strong academic and practical background in both the American domestic and foreign policy fields. He is currently continuing with his research on US politics and international relations in the office of US Congressman Jim McDermott in Washington State as an Australian Government Endeavour Postgraduate Scholar 2016. He is also a Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University during the scholarship year.Jump to next article