Friday, February 26, 2016

WSJ's Dan Henninger: Trump Running As An Independent Within Republican Party

I really had to laugh yesterday a.m. as I read the WSJ front page piece ('Some Married Couples Vow, Til Death- Or Donald - Do We Part')  on how married Repubs have to now avoid watching political TV at the same time, if one is a Trumpster.  The piece focused on several couples in different cities, including one featuring a "normal" wife who blurted: "I don't know who he is any more. Is this the man I married?"   Her hubby meanwhile, fairly gushed over the attributes of the Donald including saying he was a "breath of fresh air" and now he will "go all the way".

Well, maybe, unless the GOP establishment can find some way to halt his Donald Trump steamroller.

Meanwhile, the pundits and media have been scratching heads furiously to try to figure out why so many are rendered delirious and hang on his every word. Two nights ago, one night before last night's GOP debacle....errrr....debate....MSNBC's 'All In' featured a clip from VOX trying to explain Trump's appeal - across all class lines, ideological lines and even education. We learned:

"the psychological trait undergirding Trump's popularity is authoritarianism — a personality style characterizing people who are particularly sensitive to signs that the moral order is falling apart. When they perceive that the world as they know it is descending into chaos, they glorify their in-group, become highly intolerant of those who are different, and feel drawn to strong leaders who promise to fix things, and who do not seem shy about using force to do so."

Not long ago, The Economist (Dec. 5, 2015, p. 30)  posited Trumpsters as single mindedly seeking "scapegoats" for the nation's ills - including Obama, immigrants, Muslims, and other perceived "out groups" and also these supporters are:

"Typically members of the white lower middle class, they are at once jealous of the small privileges that distinguish them from the toilers below, and bitterly resentful of the faraway government that provides their Social Security, VA care and Medicare."

All this has, in turn, has incited controversy over whether Trump is a genuine conservative politician or a poseur, a pretender. Some opponents, including in the conservative media, have gone so far as to label him a "Clinton plant" to put up a candidate sure to be overwhelmed in the general election so that if he loses "the GOP will look like a forest shredded by a tornado"

Those words were written by the Wall Street Journal's Dan Henninger  (Feb. 25, p. A11) who recognizes the threat if Trump is nominated and gets blown out as many predict. But at the same time he offered perhaps the most insightful take on the Trump candidacy as he noted (ibid.):

"Donald Trump is properly understood as running an independent candidacy from inside the formal structure of the Republican Party, as Mike Bloomberg did to run as Mayor of New York City. Nothing remotely resembling a political party is associated with Mr. Trump."

This is important to explore as it also shows the basis for Trump support. Henninger is averring that Trump is in reality an independent - with no allegiance to Republican Party principles or agendas. In this sense, we recognize that all political parties are formal political structures with consistent principles and platforms reached by consensus by the party's Pooh-Bahs. But Trump is outside this constellation of insiders and that's exactly what energizes his supporters.  He is also beholden to no one for his financial support so doesn't have to abide by what one or other Pooh-Bah dictates or tries to impose.  Again, it is this independence from the Beltway insider network that excites his supporters.

If Henninger's take is correct, and I believe it is, then if the GOP attempts to undermine Trump or contest his nomination, he will break off and go the independent route- fulfilling the role that he actually represents. At that juncture his independent candidacy will itself become formal and no longer a 'Trojan horse' within the formal party structure.

The problem is that not only will Trump likely lose the general election, but also peel off enough GOP votes (like Ross Perot did in 1992) to cause the Republican "formal" candidate - whether Rubio or Cruz - to lose as well.

Super Tuesday will certainly show who the pretenders are and whether The Donald's subversive indy candidacy within the Repub party really has momentum.

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