Many are accepting the fact that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for President – even though there are still some Hail Mary passes being considered to stop that from happening. But it is a day late and a dollar short – even though I still believe there is a remote chance for a brokered convention.
Let me be clear, I do not support Donald Trump, but if we want to step back and be honest for a minute he has been masterful in how he got this far. He simply took advantage of the platform that he knew would be best to get him elected. He played the Republican Party and the national media to get what he wanted – the easiest and most accessible pathway to the Presidency.
I can see Trump sitting around a giant conference table in Trump Tower with Roger Stone and other key advisors discussing a possible run. He poses the question, “should I run as a Republican, Democrat or Independent?” His advisors tell him (at least this is what I would have said as a 30-year political veteran) – you can’t beat Hillary for the Democratic nomination. The DNC is behind her. You shouldn’t run as an Independent because it would cost you a fortune to get on the ballot since the threshold for non-Republican or Democratic candidates is substantially higher and more difficult. Plus, you would be dismissed as a Ross Perot. So by process of elimination you should run as a Republican. You have the name id, you would be running against a field of candidates with varying degrees of strength - but that would be diluted by the fact that there are so many of them - which would give you a greater chance of getting delegates and the nomination. Additionally, running as a Republican would give you equal access to party sponsored events – and lastly, since the Republicans will do anything to beat Hillary they would cave to anything you wanted if you threatened to run as an Independent – because that would allow Hillary to win.
When it comes to the media, he was keenly aware of his value to news networks. News is only profitable with ratings and ratings are only possible if people watch. The fact is that Trump draws viewers and it is hard for a news outlet to ignore someone who gets ratings. If he were running as an Independent, interest in him by the media would have been substantially less and eventually fade because the media is keenly aware of the remoteness of an Independent winning. But since he put himself in the Republican mix – in the debates, in the RNC sanctioned world – he cannot be ignored.
It was simply a no brainer on his part to run as a Republican. Why build another railroad to the White House when one is already there with room for more passengers?
But the one thing that no one could have predicted, not even Trump, is the deep animosity towards the establishment and the desire for someone new and fresh – as seen not only by support for him, but the early support for Fiorina and Carson.
Trump isn’t a Republican – just like Sanders isn’t a Democrat – based on how the Republican and Democratic parties like to portray themselves. You hear the cry from the Republicans that Trump isn’t conservative enough to be the Party standard bearer, but that isn’t his fault. The Party allowed him to run as a Republican. He is running on an anti-establishment platform, against establishment candidates, as part of a party that is designed to support the establishment. So whose fault is it that the Party is faced with a Trump candidacy? It isn’t rocket science to have seen the possibility of this happening.
The Republican Party caved to Trump – and then at the 11th hour are trying to figure out how to stop him. Maybe they should have done more to have held true to their values and stopped him in the beginning. If the Republican Party wants to be conservative, then it should be conservative and pick candidates that fit within that framework. Maybe have a loyalty test (which I would probably fail and some say even Ronald Reagan would fail). But a loyalty test is ok in my opinion. The Party should find a better way to vet candidates so they can get the RNC seal of approval before they can run. My gut is that Trump wouldn’t have passed the test, nor run as an independent and the Trump news story would have died within the month.
But trying to protect the sanctity of a party whose sanctity is based on a political philosophy that doesn’t represent a majority of Americans isn’t an issue reserved just for Republicans, it is a systematic problem that holds true for Democrats as well. Just as I am not a Trump supporter nor do I blindly follow any political party – I would say that I am a true independent wanting a candidate who represents my diverse ideology and there are more of us every day.
This isn’t about saying there is no place for the Republican or Democratic parties – they have a base that they should nurture and represent. But the reality is that our country, because of its diversity, can’t adequately and effectively be represented by two political parties. There are so many people in this country who want a different home – they want a different choice of a party and some do exist. But they want to support a party that has the ability to recruit quality candidates, have the ability to gain access to the ballot with the same thresholds as the Republicans and Democrats, and honestly have a chance to win. If such a system existed, Trump might have considered a different vehicle than that of running as a Republican. He might have even run as an Independent if he had equal access to the ballot and to the presidential debates.
So the problem isn’t Trump – he has the right, in a society based on freedom of speech to say what he wants. The problem is our two party system and their unequivocal mission to protect their monopoly at all costs. It is time we focus on breaking up that monopoly and allow all Americans the opportunity to have a party and/or a candidate that truly represents them, and if it is Donald Trump, then so be it, but at least he would be challenged in the general election by more than just Hillary – assuming he gets the nomination. And if people want to be a Republican or Democrat, then that is fine – but it is time to open up the breakfast bar to more than just an Egg McMuffin and French toast sticks.
All the best,