Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada..
(photo credit: ETHAN MILLER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
WASHINGTON –Donald J. Trump, real estate mogul and, to many in his own party, a mockery of the Republican stereotype, has effectively broken the party’s traditional coalition by running a campaign so vacuous and insulting, it has ostracized many of those whose life’s work has been that very cause of keeping their coalition together.
Endorsements from governors and party elders, experience working in Congress, or any other substantial tie to the structures of government are considered negatives in this campaign for president amongst Republicans. But ultimately, America’s two political parties are well-organized coalitions, and the Republican Party has only won the presidency when it has been able to harness and unite the entirety of that broad voting bloc.
Supporters of Trump cast the establishment as Washington’s fundamental problem – as a “cartel” of politicians who benefit, on a personal basis, from gridlock and the occasional immoral compromise. But the establishment of the Republican Party – the Republican National Committee – is also the organization that fund raises for state and local campaigns, negotiates rules for its national conventions, and maintains a set of guiding principles that uphold the Republican Party as one of ideas.
Structured parties not only build the tent, under which various factions coalesce; they are responsible for its upkeep and maintenance, for broadening the tent and, ultimately, for defining its membership.
With Trump’s ascendancy, the RNC has lost complete control over their ability to define what the Republican Party stands for. Their challenge is particularly acute given the fact that Trump speaks without any filter or script, stood most of his adult life for Democratic principles, and offers few if any details on how he will pursue many of the unconstitutional policies he has thus far proposed.
His path to the nomination appears based on the fact that his rivals – Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Dr. Ben Carson – cannot figure out among themselves who should bear the standard against him.
Until then, Trump is collecting the bulk of convention delegates with ease, crossing all demographics – the young and old, whites and minority groups, those educated and not – all unified by their hatred for Washington and their anger at their understanding of how the “system” works. After Super Tuesday, states begin to allocate delegates on a winner-take-all basis.
“The vast and overwhelming majority of Republicans don’t want Donald Trump to be our nominee,” Rubio said on Wednesday morning. That may be true. But the one thing Trump may enjoy about the establishment is the math. He may thank the RNC, which he has single-handedly gutted, for scheduling a brisk and convenient primary calendar.