I wonder why Republicans are surprised (and now, panicked) at the strong showing of Donald Trump in this year’s presidential primaries. It really is very much like Frankenstein’s monster, created wholly by their anti-government rhetoric over the last, really, decades.
The “anti establishment” movement represented by Trump on the “right” (if he really is right of center — who knows?) and Bernie Sanders on the “left” (and he is certainly left of center…way left!) may look somewhat the same to the casual observer. But they are very different.
Senator Sanders represents a long-suppressed socialism which has finally been given the light of day by the obscenely widening gap between rich and poor which opened up under the two Bush terms and has seen no sign of diminishing under President Obama, blocked as he has been at every turn by a Republican Congress wholly in the pocket of corporate America, big oil, and Wall Street. Sanders is clearly not anti-government! He is anti runaway capitalism. Indeed, he would increase the size of the federal government which he sees as a kind of “New Deal” protector of the little guy and gal.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump is the logical product of the “new” Republicanism which not only wants smaller government, but seems to despise the very idea of government itself. It eludes me how people who hate the U.S. government so much should wish to be elected to serve in it and indeed spend millions and millions of dollars running for the highest government office in the land.
Although a lifelong Democrat, I have nothing but respect for the kind of fiscally conservative, socially moderate, internationalist Republicanism I found when I moved to Iowa nearly thirty years ago. Former Republican governors like Robert Ray, Congressmen like Jim Leech, and state senators like Maggie Tinsman would not, and do not, even recognize the Republican party in their state today, high-jacked as it has been by right wing “evangelicals.”
Sadly, the Party has only itself to blame by setting the stage for Donald Trump in the first place and failing to mount a credible opposition to him early in this campaign. I would be shocked if he is not the Republican nominee selected to run against Hillary or Bernie.
But I don’t know who is actually more dangerous — Trump or Ted Cruz.