The Seven Stages of Grief are usually rendered as shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance. The GOP Establishment’s emotional train is just pulling into Depression Station, and it will tarry there awhile before chugging reluctantly on to Grand Acceptance Junction.
Oh, they might never really accept Donald Trump’s emergence as the Republican nominee – quite a few of them are deadly serious about sabotaging the election and throwing political control of the United States to Democrats in perpetuity, if Trump wins the primaries. What they’ll never accept is that the Trump phenomenon is real, and it says more about both partisan rings of the D.C. circus than it says about him. But Republican candidates who accept that truth, and build a smart strategy around it, might even beat Trump for the nomination.
(Here’s something else for you to accept, you alien-overlord Vogons of the GOP Establishment: you’re never coming back if Hillary Clinton wins in 2016 after you arrogantly declare you’d prefer her to Trump. She’ll finish Obama’s “transforming America” project to make sure you’re not electorally viable on the national level, and the Democrat mania for collectivist power will make all your House and state government victories largely meaningless, and you’ll have a very hard time convincing a large and enraged segment of your base to work for your prospective return to power in 2020 or 2024.)
Back to today: Instead of rushing to embrace every liberal anti-Trump meme, why don’t you Establishment types try coming up with some speeches that people won’t chew their own ears off to avoid listening to? Can you think of some ways to build constructively from Trump’s big moments, and respond to him without insulting and marginalizing his supporters? Can you come up with some campaigns that won’t blow fifty million clams to notch three percent in the polls? That’s what the “acceptance” stage of Establishment grief will look like.
For now, we’re at depression, with a growing number of mournful op-eds recognizing how Establishment Republicans and their establishment pals in the Democrat Party created Trump. The American people are ready to pass out from the stench of their combined establishment’s bipartisan failure, and Trump’s the first one to come along and suggest cracking a window. Granted, he opens windows with sledgehammers, but there’s a refreshing breeze afterward nonetheless.
This election must see the demise of establishment Can’t-Do America, because that attitude is killing us. People are tired of being told everything is impossible, unconstitutional, unthinkable. They’re tired of hearing that every well-connected interest group is “entitled” to everything it wants, paid for by people it hates. They can clearly see the fiscal and physical security of the country in a nose dive, and they’re tired of being told the controls are locked, and only the Ruling Class get parachutes.
Let me put this in the context of the latest Trumpnado: when he suggested a temporary halt in Muslim immigration until U.S. officials could get a handle on our security situation, the bulk of the American people knew that wasn’t “unconstitutional” or “fascist.” They know damn well the United States can set its own immigration policies, including or excluding anyone it wants, for any reason. There are reasoned arguments to be made against Trump’s proposal, but the people who collapsed in a neurotic heap, burbling about fascism and drawing idiotic cartoons of Trump as a head-chopping jihadi, made absolute fools of themselves. The American people are in no mood to be lectured about how their lives must be put at risk in the name of politically-correct pieties, and they’ll just have to accept a certain degree of bloody failure from the biggest, most expensive government in history.
That’s always been the key to understanding how Trump rose so far, so fast on the immigration issue. It’s not a public appetite for racism or xenophobia. It’s a public demand for the rule of law. They want the Ruling Class to admit it has failed, comprehensively, and try something different. They know much of that failure was deliberate, and they don’t want people who deliberately shirk their duty to the American people and our great Constitution to run the government any more.
Everything Trump has said about immigration, including his temporary Muslim immigration ban, is a slam at the American Ruling Class and the dumpster fire along the Potomac, at least as much as a critique of any given group of immigrants.
Yes, his statement on Muslim immigration included some dire polling data about Islamic beliefs… but it began with the assertion that “our country’s representatives” need time to “figure out what’s going on.” They’ve spent billions on security and had over a decade to study the problem since 9/11, and we still have jihadis shooting up Christmas parties. We still have the imbeciles who work for the Obama Administration responding to jihad murders by warning us not to say anything intemperate about the killers, and promising to make us as unsafe as possible for the next gang of holy warriors, random nutcases, or trigger-happy crooks by removing our ability to shoot back.
Too many Republicans have been hapless spectators, or active participants, in creating this disastrous situation. Worse, too many of them are complicit in helping the Left declare that all of this is inevitable, nothing can be done, and the wretched tax serfs of heartland America deserve nothing better anyway. Don’t like Trump breaking all those windows? Fine – roll up the damn windows before he gets there with his sledgehammer.
For kicks, let’s go back and look at how the establishment GOP has been pushed though the first several stages of grief.
Stage One of Establishment grief was shock over that first round of polls that showed Trump in the lead, along with other outsiders like Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Ted Cruz. (You remember Ted Cruz – he’s the guy our Establishment confidently predicted would cause a devastating Republican midterm election loss in 2014 by taking a firm stand against the ObamaCare disaster.)
Then came denial – it won’t last, he’s just a flash in the pan, he’s riding on pure entertainment value, our man Jeb Bush is going to put him away any day now.
Stage Three of grief is bargaining. The real thing looks like this:
But the establishment types rushed right through this bargaining stage — and have never offered to sacrifice any of their goals to persuade the voters to walk away from Trump.
Stage Four is guilt. But the Establishment has can’t even imagine that its Tea Party Hate-bomb tests caused Trumpzilla to rise from the depths of the Pacific political ocean.
Stage Five was anger, which we’re still getting plenty of, but it’s going to fade as the first primary gets closer, and Republicans who are still interested in winning the 2016 election realize they can’t do it by screaming insults at Trump supporters until they agree not to vote.
It’s just about time for the big Republican primary game to begin, and there’s hardly anyone left with much more than an asterisk in the polls to ante up. Realistically, it’s down to Trump, Carson, Cruz, and Rubio. The last alternative theory of the race is that Trump will do so badly in the early primaries that he’ll Dean-scream his way off the stage and leave a whole new race for his surviving competitors. The current round of polling doesn’t make that seem very likely.
So how about working through the last stage of your grief, GOP Establishment, and either finding a realistic way to run against Trump without driving his supporters away, or helping him become the best general-election candidate he can be?
If you convincing people that no-one but Donald Trump is going to make real, seismic changes when he gets to Washington, then a lot of people who disagree with his proposals are going to support him .That’s because nothing imaginable could be worse than another four or eight years of what we’ve been getting.
If that’s what you’re promising us for Election Day 2016, Americans are going to skip through their various stages of grief and go straight to anger and to President Donald Trump.