Donald Trump’s election to the presidency was as clear a clarion call as there could be that “business as usual” was no longer acceptable to the voters. But the GOP Establishment seems to be utterly deaf to the message.
We’ve seen this reality play out from Trump’s first announcement of his candidacy right through to the present day.
During the election primaries, none of his opponents thought he had the slightest chance of actually winning the nomination, an incredulousness shared by the party machine. They mocked and belittled him, refusing to take him seriously. They were utterly stunned when he went on to actually win that primary.
But did that win alert the GOP that something profoundly different was going on this time around? Nope.
Many of Trump’s former opponents refused to endorse his candidacy; a few even threatened to endorse his opponent, Clinton. Meantime, the GOP’s candidates for other offices continued to run their campaigns on the promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” repetition of a 7-year-old party campaign theme.
But clearly, most of them didn’t take either Trump’s campaign or their own seriously.
How do we know this? Because when the most shocking and unexpected events took place – Trump won the General Election and Republicans secured both chambers of Congress – the GOP was completely unprepared to move ahead with a “shovel ready” plan to get rid of Obamacare.
Not even close. They had absolutely nothing. In scientific parlance, this is what’s called “stupid.”
Compounding the problem, that stupidity continues with no sign of abating. The “Never-Trumpers” are still in full roar, glorying in their “moral superiority,” reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, utterly oblivious to the voices of that plebian mass in fly-over country that elected Trump. Elitist snobbery personified.
On the other side of the aisle, Hillary Clinton’s defeat was sending the same message to the Democrat Party, with the same result: deafness and denial.
When the campaign season opened the Establishment Democrats deemed Clinton the ordained candidate, and no other “mainstream” Democrat even threw a hat into the ring.
And then along came Bernie Sanders, the Democrat equivalent of Trump, an “outsider” who wasn’t even a member of the Democrat Party, having been elected throughout his career in the House and Senate as an “Independent” who only caucused with the Democrats.
To the consternation of the Establishment Democrats, Sanders’s candidacy put the coronation of Clinton in serious jeopardy – to the point that party officials conspired with Clinton campaign people to cheat Sanders out of any chance of winning that party’s nomination. Needless to say, the Sanders supporters were outraged by this when it became publicly known.
Once Clinton had secured the nomination, the DNC and her campaign apparatus evidently felt so confident of her chances of winning, and so scornful of Trump, that they decided to concentrate their campaign on the coastal urban centers and special-interest coalitions that in reality were already in the tank for her, utterly and completely ignoring everyone in “fly-over country,” as well as the masses of people who were ardent and now-outraged Sanders supporters, essentially wasting their time, energy, and resources.
Then the unthinkable happened. Trump actually won.
The result? A Democrat Party in complete disarray and dissension, to the point of being in a shambles. A schism over what the meaning of such an unexpected and catastrophic loss means.
The Clintonistas are welded to the idea – really just an excuse – that it was “the Russians” and Comey at fault, unwilling to accept that Clinton was a terrible candidate who ran an incompetent campaign.
The Establishment, with a very few exceptions, can’t seem to decide whether its message to the electorate was too far to the left, not far enough to the left, too married to “corporate” interests, or what.
The very few who seem to get it have said that their party needs to take a serious look at the direction it’s taken and the policies it’s promoting, and that it’s possible the emphasis on social engineering – letting men use the same bathrooms as little girls, amnesty for illegal aliens, and the like – taking priority over bread-and-butter concerns about jobs and the economy may just be a very big mistake.
The far-left culture-war policies that play so well in the coastal blue regions and some other major urban areas don’t go over at all well in areas outside of those enclaves.
Unfortunately for the Democrat Party if it wants to be relevant on a national scale moving into the future, it really is losing those voices in the wilderness.
I think voters are clearly signaling to their respective parties that the old “Establishment” way of doing business isn’t going to cut it anymore. In the case of the GOP, that means empty campaign promises that aren’t followed up with serious and concerted effort to actually implement the promised policies will no longer be acceptable.
For Democrats, it means dropping the obsession with social justice and class warfare and directing attention to matters that are of more concern to average everyday Americans.
Will anyone in either party “Establishment” pay any attention to voters’ messages?
I don’t think Trump is the causative agent of any of this. The success of his primary campaign, and Clinton’s failure to beat him in the General Election, are merely symptomatic of a greater dissatisfaction in the body politic, and the results of the last election – from primaries to General Election – were the overt expression of that exasperation.
What’s truly interesting is how both parties are suffering at the same time from the same kind of malaise and disaffection. How this will play out at the poll – or in the streets – is anyone’s guess.
Brian Baker is a Saugus resident.