Wednesday’s Republican primary debate underscores the dysfunctionality of the GOP. The Republican Party has been frequently like herding cats. The candidates spent their time attacking each other instead of defining how they would do a better job as president than Donald Trump.
Democrats in the media have helped Trump to further the narrative that the campaign is over and these debates are useless instead of painting him as a coward who fears scrutiny. A widespread belief exists that Trump is the man for Joe Biden to beat.
“This was the NIT tournament. This was the children’s table,” Mike Madrid, a GOP consultant who worked against Trump’s re-election effort in 2020, referring to the junior version of the NCAA basketball tournament, told The Wall Street Journal. “If you add all the average polling of all the candidates on the stage,” he added, “Trump would still be beating them all together by 20 points. There’s no race here.”
DeSantis’ rookie presidential campaign, once thought to be the greatest threat to Trump, has fizzled and failed to catch on. Trump’s bad-boy candidacy has proven to be Teflon despite an avalanche of legal charges and civil allegations.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley won points in the August debate by being the only candidate who showed she could argue without referring to cliché talking points. This has led to frustration among the Republican donor class, which has found itself powerless and unable to stop Trump’s Svengali-like grip over his followers.
“The only thing happening in the debates is the slow realization from the donor/thought leader class that they should have backed Haley instead of DeSantis as the plausible Trump alternative,” Sarah Longwell, a Trump critic who regularly conducts focus groups with voters, told The Wall Street Journal. “But it’s too late for that and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.”
Candidates who have no support like Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum remain in the race as ego trips. Christie seems to think insulting Trump is his ticket, but no one is buying it. Trump remains more popular than ever.
Republican Dysfunction on Stage
Instead of showcasing a post-Trump vision, these debates have shown that GOP candidates have no connection with their voters who see them as incompetent and beholden to the donor class. Trump’s key selling point has been the ability to sell himself to voters as independent of the donor class and that he’s a fighter.
Personal egos frequently have taken precedence over vision among Republican leaders, which has been the case since Ronald Reagan left office 30 years ago. Donald Trump’s success in the Republican Party has come as a direct result of this leadership gulf.
No Republican Other Than Trump Shows Vision or Tenacity
By contrast, the Democratic Party has been triumphant because it stated a vision. The Democrats’ vision might be just rhetoric, but it’s a vision, nonetheless. They’ve successfully been able to deflect scrutiny of their incompetence by using memes related to race, sex, gender, and sexual orientation to paint Republicans as “bigots” and “racists.” Legitimate questions about unregulated migration and urban blight and crime created by incompetent Democrat politicians.
Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, an organization that trains conservative activists, has frequently stated in contrast that the GOP has a problem with “content-free Republicans,” meaning Republicans who have no principles.
Apart from Trump, no one has dared to touch the third rail. Republicans will not touch the third rail of pointing out how Democrats have used all of these categories to divide America and cover for their divisive and incompetent governance. Instead, they have been terrified of being called names in the media. Trump’s willingness to do so has manufactured a sense of authenticity and clout that others have failed to touch.
Perhaps the GOP donor class should grab a mirror and ask themselves how they became out of touch with America. The “inoffensive” candidates they have chosen since Reagan including Bob Dole, George Bush Sr., Mitt Romney, and the cast on stage have failed to resonate. What’s good for business isn’t necessarily good for politics. Lots of Republicans want to move beyond Trump but do not see anyone who shows a vision and proves that he or she is not his or her own man or woman.
About the Author
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.
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