With Donald Trump’s convincing win in South Carolina and Hillary Clinton’s win in Nevada, the dust has settled early this time on the respective party nominees. You must not think of this as carrying a great deal of satisfaction on my part in relation to Trump. He is the only candidate who had a chance to beat Hillary and even do some good if elected. More than ever do I see how the 2012 election was the one that mattered. But he remains a high risk candidate who will change the nature of politics in the US and across the world.
Perhaps to help us all see clear of what’s involved is an article by Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the right-side National Interest, on Trump Is Trampling Over the GOP’s Corpse. He has no more satisfaction in seeing this outcome than I do, but also has something else to say about how out of touch the Republican establishment had become. I might say that the comparison in my own mind has been to Andrew Jackson, which you’d have to know a bit about American history to see the parallel. This is his conclusion but there’s lots more at the link.
Militaristic unilateralism is fine for a conservative nationalist like Trump who displays a macho Jacksonian attitude about American honor—calling Iran’s seizure of American sailors an “absolute disgrace” that evinced a “lack of respect for our country and certainly our president.” But he’s also made it clear that he’s ready to give Russian president Vladimir Putin a free hand when it comes to Ukraine. And when it comes to Syria he’s cast doubt about the rebels by implicitly backing Bashar al-Assad — “we have no idea who these people [are] and what they’re going to be, and what they’re going to represent.” Trump’s intense repugnance for allies is deeply rooted in the GOP and in American history. Trump’s truculent stands prompted the historian Max Boot, an adviser to Rubio, to complain in the February Commentary that both Trump and Cruz are turning “their backs on decades of Republican foreign policy, which has been internationalist, pro-free trade, pro-immigration, pro-democracy, and pro-human rights.”
It’s not quite that simple—Republican foreign policy has veered between the pragmatism of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to the truculence of George W. Bush—but Boot is definitely onto something: like it or not, Trump and Cruz do represent a return to the party’s older traditions. Republican grandees are responding by trying to paint Trump as some kind of closet leftist for having the temerity to question the Bush war on terror. On Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham called Trump “the Michael Moore of the Republican Party,” and poor Jeb Bush echoed him. “I don’t get it,” Jeb said.
You hear a lot of leading Republicans use that phrase nowadays: “I don’t get it.” That’s because they don’t get it. All Trump is doing is simply telling the truth as Trump sees it, and what he says is resonating because while it may be wrong at least it is new, and other Republicans are pretending the old bromides still work. All of which is why the GOP is becoming unmoored by his candidacy.
What worries me is that we will find, yet again, “Republicans” sitting the election out, or even worse voting for Hillary. I can only think that people don’t read the news or cannot see what’s happening with the borderless world that is being created. Trump says he will return us to a world of nation states and close the American border to all who cannot become Americans. I have no idea whether it can at this late stage be done, but I definitely want someone to try. But with Donald and Hillary selected, the big guns of the media will now turn on Trump. One of the parts about Romney that made a difference was that he was so clear of scandal that ultimately the only blemishes that could be found was that he had driven from Boston to Montreal with his dog on the roof, and when he was sixteen had been mean to some other kid at summer camp. Trump no doubt has much more scandal (but then so does Hillary in spades!), but on the other side, he will take none of this lying down, as the Pope himself recently discovered.
We shall see. I think it’s largely too late, but if there is anyway to ensure the collapse of the West, it is to elect Hillary Clinton president. Although I imagine no newspaper you will read between now and November will say so, Trump is the only one who might, just possibly, bring some order back into our world which is now disintegrating at every turn.