When Donald Trump put forward his candidacy for the Republican nomination, most pundits wrote it off as a publicity stunt that would end in nothing. When he began to poll strongly they said that it would pass. When it didn’t, they said the problem was the huge field of candidates dividing votes amongst the moderates (moderate in the loosest possible sense here), and that as they inevitably began to drop out, the Republican establishment would rally around somebody else. As of Super Tuesday, Donald Trump has won 10 states and currently has a terrifying 329 delegates.
The anti-Trump brigade are preparing for an all out assault on the billionaire in a last ditch attempt to prevent him from securing the nomination. The Republican candidate in 2012, Mitt Romney, denounced him in a speech at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah on Thursday, saying that:
“If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospect for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished”
Prominent wall street figures are funnelling millions into an anti-Trump super PAC, Our Principles PAC, to buy attack ads to bombard Florida airwaves ahead of the state’s March 15 primary in the hope of denying Trump a victory that could spell death to state Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign.
But the voice of Republican bigwigs is falling on deaf ears, if primary voters were interested in the views of their party’s elite they would have voted for establishment candidates. Despite Mitt Romney’s insistence that because “the rules of political history have pretty much all been shredded during this campaign” there is still a chance of stopping Mr Trump, he is wrong, the “blonde Berlusconi” will almost definitely be the Republican nominee. If there was any hope of stopping the Trump juggernaut it would have had to have come far earlier than now. If more of the moderate candidates had dropped out sooner there might have been a chance of rallying behind Marco Rubio or even John Kasich. But they didn’t. The Republican establishment has left it too little too late to stop Donald Trump.
The main hope of stopping Donald Trump would be to back Ted Cruz. As of Super Tuesday he had won four states and has 236 delegates, if John Kasich and Marco Rubio both pulled out and endorsed the Texan senator they might be able to halt Trump’s seemingly unstoppable advance. But it would be a stretch to call such a course of action a victory for the Republican establishment. Though a Republican politician, Ted Cruz is about as much of an establishment candidate as Donald Trump. He is notoriously difficult to work with and has a reputation for taking stubbornness to the extreme (he played a prominent role in the government shutdown of 2013). In fact, many Republican bigwigs have said that they would prefer to have somebody willing to compromise, after all, The Donald did write a whole book on dealmaking.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz’s success shows that there are very serious tears in the fabric of the Republican Party. Like Labour in the UK, it is going through somewhat of an identity crisis. As the Tea party has grown like a tumour in the organisation that once boasted such historical greats as Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt as its leaders, the GOP is trying to decide exactly what it is. Is it Cruz’s party of evangelical Christians, forever vowing to make abortion and gay marriage illegal? Is it Trumps party of xenophobia and racial divisions? Or is it the party of more moderate conservatism of candidates like Jeb Bush and John Kasich?
With Hilary Clinton all but certain to win her party’s nomination, and the Republicans likely to select Donald Trump as their nominee and lose the subsequent election, the party will have four years of soul searching to work out exactly what it means to be a Republican in the 21st century. Although not particularly charismatic, and seen by voters as more than a little untrustworthy, Clinton will offer voters a credible and highly qualified candidate for the Whitehouse. Provided she manages to deal with scandals like using a private email server, or her handling of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi during her time as Secretary of State, she looks on track to beat Donald Trump.
But it would be foolish to write off the property mogul as many did when he entered the race in June. He has shown that his charisma and ‘straight talking’ rhetoric has the power to sway voters and cause electoral upsets. If he wins the nomination he will undoubtedly redefine himself in a more electorally savvy light. His speech after winning seven of the eleven states up for grabs on Super Tuesday gave a taster or that. It was considerably more toned down than his usual impassioned displays of grandeur.
While he kept his positions on immigration, repeating promises such as building a wall on the border with Mexico and banning Muslims from entering the country, the way he stated these plans was considerably toned down, and supported by lengthier arguments on how they would work in practice.
He was, in short, more presidential. And if voters are not careful, a President Trump is exactly what they could get.
Article by Oscar Raimes
Illustrations by Ben Zombory-Moldovan
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