Gary Horton | Trump Breaks a Broken Party, Again

Gary Horton
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I wrote the following column seven years ago, after Donald Trump won the Republican primary. I bumped into it last night, and now, a week after the 2022 midterm Republican debacle, this old column proves a retrospect, remarkably prescient and resilient. Way back then, sound minds could forecast all this Trump stuff would lead to chaos and detriment. And now, post-2022 election, Republicans are adrift; their party torn asunder with no clear direction forward. To multiply already incurred damage, as of Tuesday morning, Trump is expected to announce his bid for a third run at destroying whatever remains of the Republican Party.  

Now it’s Republican Groundhog Day, and run or not, Trump remains the bull in the Republican China shop: 

So much has been said and written about Donald Trump running away and stealing the Republican Party from its rightful Lords and Masters. The Republican Power Elite are shocked and awed, waylaid and set low, astonished and slack-jawed, that this unwashed interloper has snuck in, dirty-fought, and taken the spoils of what was rightfully theirs. 

In truth, there’s been no dirty politicking. Trump straight-up beat them at their own game. And credit Trump that he had clarity of vision to analyze his opponents’ weaknesses and see the “winning” sweet spot. Trump may be a shape-shifter and a charlatan snake oil salesman, but he also knows what an American crowd wants and is expert at whipping them into raging support. Just look at videos of Trump hosting wrestling matches and juxtapose to his campaign rallies. 

Trump sensed the deep dissatisfaction festering inside the core target of Republican manipulation – old white dudes who have not or could not keep up with the times and have fallen or been left behind. He played these “lost ones wanting to be great again” like violins and worked them up into a crescendo of complaint. “America never wins anymore.” “Nothing works anymore.” If you can imagine saying anything negative about America – Trump has likely said it. And these magic-solution hungry left-behinds are eating it up like the SPAM it is. 

And so, the Republican Elite are shocked, thrashed, and amazed. “How could this possibly happen?” “It’s our party!” they pout. 

Shocked they are, after nearly eight years of full obstructionism against a progressive president. Aghast they are, after tremendous Bush tax cuts for the super-wealthy while ignoring middle-class America. Sixteen years these Republican Elite have catered to America’s Economic Elite and overlooked, snubbed and abused the real interests of real Americans. 

For nearly eight straight years a Republican Congress’ stated objective was first, to deny Barack Obama a second term, and second, to block any initiative he might launch. No debasement of government has been too low for these Elites to employ in denying Obama creditable governing success. “Shut down the government” became their response to nearly any solution offered up. Even at this late date, a completely acceptable Supreme Court nominee cannot even get a hearing as Congress shuts down, once again. All the while, real laws, real plans, real help for real people have been preempted by made-up fake rage over LGBT issues, over climate change, over “Keystone Pipelines” and countless other distractions from real governing.  

As much as this Republican Congress has made middle-America suffer – even more poignant is the public posture these political elite have displayed. For eight years on, this Republican Party’s official stance has been that of crass manipulation of voter emotions: “Obama the Kenyan.” “No birth certificate.” “Obama is going to take your guns.” “Obama is a socialist.” “Benghazi.” “Email servers.” “Bathroom wars.” “Abortion wars.” “Selling baby body parts.” On and on: Is there any actual governing here? Nada. In its place is fake outrage and hot-button pushing. 

Pushing hot buttons: That’s been the National Republican Elite’s platform for eight years on. And it’s worked great for getting out the frightened votes. Until now. 

Judgment Day has arrived. The Party has reaped what it’s sown. Fed-up chickens have finally come home to roost. Just desserts have been served and will now be force-fed. In sneaks Mr. Donald Trump right into the middle of their party. First thought beneficial entertainment for debate ratings, Trump subsequently stole the whole show.  

Heeeere’s Donald: Four-time major bankruptcies. Three marriages. Countless whorish affairs. Zippo actual governing experience. Zip military experience. No international diplomacy experience. No economic policy experience. No veterans affairs experience. No anti-terrorist experience. Zero actual conservative or Republican credentials. Nothing but vindictive blather so fine-tuned to press the hottest of hot buttons with expert skill. 

Despite all these apparent negatives, empowered by eight years of Republican Elite vindictive dog whistles and 16 years of broken promises, an otherwise buffoonish Trump walks in, blows reactionary whistles even louder, and voila! – it’s no actual surprise that a thoroughly conditioned electorate responds with almost violent adoration. The Pied Piper of Outrage stole the Party while the Elite were distracted prostituting themselves to their ultra-rich donor-masters.  

Today, a jilted Republican Party, like a scorned 16-year-old prom queen, sobs uncontrollably into her satin pillows wondering how America ever got away.  

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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