THUNDERDOME: LEARNING TO LOVE DONALD TRUMP:
by Ben Domenech
14 JANUARY 16
A very strange trend has emerged over the past few weeks regarding
Donald Trump: A number of respected mainstream commentators who have
begun to suggest the idea that he might be a better top of the ticket
candidate than Ted Cruz. It’s impressive how quickly so many people have
started to sound this note – in part because they’ve done so without
the auditory signals of resignation it suggests.
Supporting Donald Trump as a nominee over Ted Cruz sounds revolutionary,
but is actually an act which maintains the status quo in the party if
you believe that he is headed for electoral defeat, as many of these
analysts do. Trumpism as a flash in the pan expression of American
populism which dies out in a contest against Hillary Clinton is itself a
game that ends with the status quo in Washington. And even Trump as
President, as unlikely as that sounds, has the prospect of a thoroughly
pragmatic chief executive, willing to cut a deal with anyone on anything
at any time.
Ted Cruz on the other hand represents an ideological shift – from the
perspective of the elite – against the established order of things. The
idea that someone so hated by the elected officials and party bigwigs
could take over the Republican Party in a hostile manner is more
objectionable than the sideshow of Donald Trump to some in the hierarchy
This poses an odd hypothetical, though: say for the sake of argument
that Cruz prevails narrowly in Iowa, Trump wins New Hampshire, and they
go 1-2 again in South Carolina. This sets up a scenario where
influencers in the party will have a decision to make: will they hold on
to the hope that someone else will emerge down the stretch to challenge
Trump, or make peace with the idea that Ted Cruz is their only path to
blocking The Donald in the SEC primary and beyond?
Cruz has the more presidential resume. He looks like someone the
establishment could deal with on paper. It is only the personal animus
toward him that would lead people to choose the SMOD of Trump over him.
And yet that animus is real, and palatable. Ted Cruz has not been
endorsed by a single sitting governor or senator of his party. The party
leadership speaks of him as they would of a malevolent scorpion. Can
they swallow their pride and acknowledge, in the current scenario, that
he is their only hope to prevent a Trump nomination?
Perhaps they do not understand this as the current state of things.
Perhaps they hold out hope that Marco Rubio or Chris Christie or Jeb
Bush will get another shot at things. Perhaps they are not wrong. But as
things stand, there are two potential nominees of the Republican Party
in 2016, and one of them is essentially a conservative Democrat economic
nationalist with an authoritarian streak who is one of the most
controversial people in America today. Let’s not kid ourselves about who
would be a better reflection of the Republican Party in a general
election and beyond.