The 2016 Republican Primary Irony
Every four years, you hear the same speech that this is the most important election in history. Depending on the topic or the political climate, there is a sense of urgency for real change and positive action. But for the 2016 Republican primary, these words seem even more potent, and the phrase seems to apply that much more than recent years. The reason is that while the Republican Party has been plagued with factions and an internal civil war. In this primary, it seems like this tension is reaching a tipping point.
When Donald Trump announced he was running as a Republican candidate, there was a lot of political laughter. Laughter, because many decided there was no way a business billionaire, with no K Street support and no political experience, could ever beat the likes of Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush. Furthermore, his outrageous comments and promises to build a wall across the US Mexico border was considered political suicide. But as time went on, Trump’s power grew, and in his power, he exposed the fat cats in Washington, and the political game that has always been played in DC.
This election is different than before because throughout the years, there has been talk about “breaking the Washington machine,” but no one was actually brave enough, or successful enough, to do so. Many politicians (Rand Paul), talked about the party elites having all the power, and taking away the rights of the individual voter. While the media ignored this, the tension continued to grow. We saw events such as Eric Cantor losing his primary election to an unknown economics professor, but still, it was thought that the Tea Party group was just a radical wave that would slowly go away. We saw Marco Rubio board a private plane and take a picture with Senator Tim Scott and Governor Nikki Haley, but the result of the election was a win for Donald Trump, and a slap in the face to the endorsement from the governor and senator of the state. This momentum has been slowly gaining traction for a long time, and in this election, is finally ready to explode.
And now, the irony of it all. Donald Trump’s supporters are voting for the man that they think is the antithesis of this insider Washington club. As he is self funded, he owes no political favors to Goldman Sachs or the oil industry. He promises to reflect the desires of the everyday American by finally acting on illegal immigration, and by finally creating good paying jobs in the United States. He wants to bring back jobs from China and Mexico, and because he is in no one’s pocket, people believe that he will fulfill these promises. In contrast, however, you have Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich. While both of these politicians say that it is Trump who is part of the Washington elite, these two have the party leaders in the palm of their hands, and are considered the only hope to fight Trump from winning the nomination. And to do so, the two candidates are teaming up together to take delegates away from Trump, and line up the convention to either of their favor.
While the word delegate is not new, it is only in this election cycle that we really see their importance. Now, because of Trump, people are realizing the political games that are played to get a nomination. And because of how Trump is treated, there is a steady revolt against these party leaders and this exact political game. While we are told we live in a democracy, and we expect that whoever gets the most votes is the obvious winner, we are seeing through this election that there are a lot more steps involved, and it is almost impossible to not “work the system.” But ironically, many view this very system as the base of corruption for the entire American political process. Because these party officials and because of political loopholes, someone like Ted Cruz, who has won less states, may be able to sneak his way in and take the nomination right out from Trump. Kasich, who posted a picture on Instagram explaining that a brokered convention is not new to history, is more obvious in his plan. These two candidates are similar in that they want to work the system in their favor to get the nomination. In contrast, Trump wants to take the system and turn it inside out. And for those who support Trump, this is the only way that they will be able to stay in the Republican Party, because in their minds enough is enough.
Carly Fiorina, the one time presidential candidate, made some good points when she said this election is all about the Washington outsider. While she has endorsed Cruz and claims Trump is the Washington insider, Trump’s supporters see the situation entirely different. If Trump gets the most votes but somehow loses the nomination because of delegates or because of behind closed door deals within the Republican Party, you can expect there to be a huge Republican voter exit. For too long, there has been a disconnect between what the Party leaders think the people want, and what the voters actually want. By continuing to completely ignore Trump and do everything possible to “stop him,” the gap between certain Republicans and there party is growing at a rapid pace.
This election will make history, because the way that it is going, this could be the last Republican Convention for how we know the party today. There will have to be some sort of huge change, because the road that we are on has been nothing but rocky and disruptive. The Party leaders should always represent the voters who are the reason the leaders have power. But as we see through delegates and the convention process in general, what we perceived to be the democratic system is different in reality. Because of Trump’s success and the overall negative feeling by many towards the Republican Party on a whole, we will see some serious changes when July rolls around. For those who are so afraid of what will happen if Trump is the nominee, they should instead be more cautious to what will happen if he is not the nominee because of some political deals and political maneuvers. Because those who support Trump, and consider themselves part of the Republican Party, will not put their head down and vote for whoever the Party tells them to vote for.