Donald Trump is catching some flack for failing correct one of his vocal supporters who stated the country “has a Muslim problem”, “Obama is a Muslim”, and “not even an American”. Of course, none of this is surprising. What else would we expect from a man who sees himself as the unofficial president of the “birther” movement? Trump’s entire campaign is based on xenophobia, Islamophobia and intolerance and if he disagreed publicly with bigots he would risk alienating more than half of his most ardent supporters. But who are the people that are attracted to a candidate because he appeals to their base nature?
Trump admits to formally being a Democrat, but it is obvious why he is running for President as a Republican. Since he planned to capitalize on the deep resentment of illegal aliens and the hatred of Muslims in our society to jumpstart his campaign, he wisely chose run in the lane where people with these feelings naturally tend to gravitate, the Republican Party.
Racists are not going to vote for the Democrats who forced integration on an unwilling South. They are not going to consider a party that supports racial quotas and favors the use of federal powers to correct racial injustices. Racists and Muslim haters are certainly not going to support the party that put a black man with a Muslim name in the White House. Those who believe that women should be kept in their place are not gong to vote for candidates supported by feminists. The homophobes and overly zealous fundamental Christians are not going to vote candidates who advocate for gay rights and same sex marriage.
So over the last fifty years these and other intolerant citizens have made their way into the ranks of the Republican Party where they now reside as the hefty portion of the GOP’s radical right wing base. Not surprisingly many of these people are undereducated which helps to explain why the Republican establishment has been able to manipulate their obsession with social issues to seduce them into voting against their financial best interest to support big business candidates. In summary most of the worse our population have gravitated to the GOP side of ledger where, at least up to now, they could be relied upon to vote for candidates supported by the Republican establishment.
However, in this election cycle something has gone terribly wrong. The Republican elite have seemingly lost control of their socially inept masses. These folks, who apparently slept through civic class, don’t understand why their party, which controls both Houses of Congress, can’t right all of the wrongs they see in Washington. They certainly don’t understand why the supposedly conservative Supreme Court would turn traitor and save Obamacare and then force same sex marriage on the unwilling. Most of all they are sick and tired supporting center-right Presidential candidates anointed by the Republican establishment as having “the best chance to win” only to experience defeat time and time again.
So it is of little wonder that the riff raff base of the Republican Party has rebelled au mass and are now drawn to the anti establishment candidates. It is also not surprising that their favorite candidate thus far is the one who most appeals to intolerant impulses. They have feed for years off of ultra conservative talk show hosts like Russ Limbaugh so they are already preprogrammed to binge on bombastic rhetoric without regard as to whether it makes any sense of not.
The rednecks and other yahoos in their ranks have always been a problem for the Republican Party because it is difficult to win national elections with them and impossible to win without them. Previously, in order to win the nomination, the candidates hand picked by the Republican establishment and provided with plenty of cash by big business interests have had to move further to the right than was wise to secure their support. Then they have looked disingenuous when they tacked back towards the center in order to attract the enough independent votes to win the general election.
This time the Republican establishment has a much bigger problem. The Republican rabble rousers have shunted aside the establishment candidates in favor of outsiders who better speak their language. Jeb Bush, the expected favorite and best funded candidate, has refused to abandon his center right positions and speak in fighting terms in order to placate the radical right and they have punished him for his insolence. In addition, there are so many Republican candidates this time around that a candidate can jump into the lead in the polls with only a relatively small percentage potential voters.
It will be interesting to see how this develops as more of the candidates run out of money/support and join Rick Perry on the sidelines. There hasn’t been a major, widely respected national poll published since the CNN debate, but early indications are that the Republican establishment still has plenty to worry about. The relatively small Morning Consult Poll which quizzed likely Republican voters who watched the debate still had Trump in the lead with 36%, followed by Carson with 12%, and Fiorina coming in third 10%. Using simple addition we find that outsiders who have never before held office captured 58% of the support. If you also count Ron Paul and Ted Cruz as outsiders (I would), the antiestablishment vote total increases to 68%. In the small poll taken by Gravis Marketing, Trump and Fiorina tied at 22% with Carson capturing 15% for a total of 57%. Add in Cruz and Paul and the outsider’s lead increases to 65% in that poll.
It is still very early, but at this point it appears that the Republican establishment appears to have lost control of their nomination process. The Trump campaign, long on style, but completely absent of substance, may eventually implode under the weight of his braggadocious style. The support of GOP insiders and big money may yet turn the antiestablishment tide as the field of candidates is whittled down to a reasonable number. However, right now the Republican base seems intent on nominating their kind of candidate, even if he or she would not have much of a chance in the general election against any reasonable Democratic nominee.