No matter what Donald Trump does, he can’t win over the GOP’s establishment — precisely because his revival of Abe Lincoln’ and Teddy Roosevelt’s economic nati0nalism is energy for the party’s voters and also poison for the establishment’s donors.
“The G.O.P. Waits, and Waits, for Donald Trump to Grow Up,” was the uncomprehending headline in the New York Times. The article, written by Nicolle Wallace, laments that GOP donors should be writing big checks by now and that Republicans leaders are anxiously awaiting for the arrival of “statesman” Trump.
Wallace recognizes the economic disagreement, but can’t see the politics. According to Wallace, Trump’s economic policies are an accident, a sign of incompetence. When the presumptive nominee pushes those policies – like he did in Pennsylvania – he actually “veers off course with an unscripted utterance on a morning news program.” But to people outside the established media, it means that Trump will not become a political Stepford wife in the mold of Paul Ryan, and that spells trouble for the GOP puppeteers.
Some scoff and say this is just the New York Times being the New York Times, it echoes the puzzled confusion in the GOP’s ivory tower. Just on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed the sentiment of his boy wonder in the House – Speaker Ryan – and lobbed a passive aggressive jab at his party’s nominee.
When asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether Trump was qualified to be President – a softball question for a Republican Senate Majority Leader – McConnell meekly responded, “I’ll leave that to the American people to decide.” McConnell refused to say whether his party’s nominee was fit for the Oval Office.
Floundering Sen. Marco Rubio – Trump’s primary opponent who pledged to support the GOP nominee – also refused to say his nominee was qualified. When asked by CBS’s John Dickerson if Trump had the character and judgement to be Commander in Chief, Rubio responded, “That’s what I’m going to watch now.” Hardly a supportive comment.
Amid louder calls for the Trump campaign to become more establishment, and growing demands that Trump become more pliable to the Republican ruling class, we must remember the old guard of the GOP does not want Trump to win. They want Trump to crash and burn because only if Trump is humiliated then they can send Trump – and his movement – back to the gulags.
But wouldn’t a Hillary win likely mean a Democrat takeover of the House & Senate? Yes, but it is a calculated risk many in the GOP are willing to take.
If Trump loses – and loses big – the GOP leadership may be banished to minority status on the Hill, but such a ban would be temporary. After two years of Hillary, the GOP top brass would bemoan the horrors of Hillary. They would beg the grassroots to give them one more chance to stop Hillary in hopes of another 1994 or 2010.
But even if that happens, we know that Ryan and McConnell would be pushing another GOP con. Both men worked with Barack Obama to plot passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership. Both men capitulated on budget proposal after budget proposal. And both men would be the wings to Hillary’s hawk in foreign intervention across the globe.
But what happens if Trump wins? The GOP as Ryan, McConnell, and the donor class knows it, changes.
Gone are the free trade deals that have funneled trillions into the bank accounts of Wall Street donors — and millions of dollars into GOP fund-raising accounts — at the expense of blue collar paychecks.
Gone is the open door that allows cheap labor (and potential terrorists) to cross the border at-will. Gone are the unnecessary wars that serve no vital U.S. interest other than to bankrupt the nation.
The GOP elite will never support Trump because their pursuit of power has caused them to be more aligned the other establishment team — Hillary’s Democrats — than with Trump’s Republicans. The GOP elite could survive a Hillary win, but odds of surviving a Trump win are far less.
For this reason Trump must resist any attempt to curry favor or support from this cabal of con artists. That is not to say he must routinely attack them, but it is to say he needs to keep a ten-foot pole handy. This is Trump’s election to lose and, if he does, it will not be because Hillary beat him; it will be because of the danger that came from within.
But there is no need to let the establishment foxes into the hen house. Trump, thanks to historic support from the GOP rank and file, has the Republican elite exactly where he wants them.
Trump is calling the shots. The notion that he should follow the failed advice of those who refuse to say he is qualified to be president only makes sense inside the Beltway; it only makes sense if undermining Trump is the ultimate goal.
And, as the old Green Beret slogan goes, “If you got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” Now is not the time for Trump to loosen the grip – there is too much at stake.