The Republican party is two months away from total irrelevance in electoral politics. As one of the what seems to be few college-age Republicans, this terrifies me, and is something the Republican National Committee has failed to address or notice. That is also where the tragedy of Donald Trump’s candidacy enters the drama.
Make no mistake. This trend toward total irrelevance wasn’t a byproduct of Trump, but something that has been in the cards for a long time. Since 1988, the Republican candidate has had only one popular win: 2004, when George W. Bush won with 50.7 percent of the popular vote (not exactly inspiring stuff). Even worse, Bush won was because his opponent in that race was John Kerry — again, not exactly inspiring hope in future Republicans.
The sad thing is, if Trump wasn’t such a distasteful candidate, who played footsie with white supremacists, he might have been the wake-up call the party needed. But because of Trump’s absurd conduct, the RNC and Republicans at large can simply shrug him off and not associate with him.
There is an essay titled “The Flight 93 Election” floating around the conservative realms of the internet that asks a great question: what have Republicans accomplished in the past 20 years? The Democrats boast lasting policies: healthcare, NAFTA, climate change agreements. Republicans? A never-ending war in the Middle East and playing punching bag for Democrats. That’s about it.
If Trump were 15 years younger and sincere, he might’ve been the Republican party’s last best hope. This is where the “United 93 Election” essay comes in again. It argues that, “A Hillary Clinton presidency is playing Russian Roulette with a semi auto. With Trump you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.” This means that if America picks Hillary Clinton, it is sealing the direction of the country, because Republicans in Congress will not stop her. She’s going to ultimately get the things she wants in appropriations packages, as the Republicans continue to play checkers while the Democrats play chess.
The very ideas of what it means to be a Republican have been sold out to big business and lobbyists. Low taxes and free markets left the common citizen by the wayside. The Republicans in Congress critique the policies of the Democrats to no end, but fail to offer the ideological equivalent from a different perspective. Instead, the party continually embarrasses itself by playing obstructionist without presenting a meaningful alternative to what has been proposed.
The situation at hand is ever more tragic: Hillary Clinton has the highest unfavorability rating of any candidate in the last 10 cycles, aside from Trump himself. If Bill Clinton or Barack Obama were up against Trump they could have been measuring up the Oval Office since the spring. Hillary is just so weak as a candidate, that a terrible candidate like Trump can keep it close.
Trump was almost the candidate that could have sparked change. If he simply wasn’t so impulsive, he could’ve inspired Republicans. In theory, when broken down to the very basics, Trump’s biggest stance should appeal to Republicans. Curtailing an immigration system that is directly contributing to the death of the party would make total sense. Instead, Republican ideologues see cheap labor instead of voters to appeal to, which is why I think the end is near. There is no movement to save the American worker at home. The working poor are very real; they live in the “deadman’s towns” Bruce Springsteen sang about nearly 30 years ago and Appalachia is littered with abandoned coal towns and people too poor to get out.
It’s really simple. Republicans have signed their own death warrant by not adapting to changing demographics or slowing down trends themselves. On the verge of total irrelevancy, the Republicans fielded a group of the 17 pedestrian candidates for president in recorded history, let a fox into the hen house (who was a New York liberal all his life) and allowed two decades of arrogance to build a scenario in which they are totally irrelevant. Yet in facing Clinton (the nemesis to Republicans), Trump only semi-enticed Republicans to vote for him.