The definition of “caricature” is “a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.” It is in this sense that Donald Trump is nothing more or less than a caricature of the modern Republican Party.
Notice: I am emphasizing the “modern” Republican Party for it has not always been so. This was once, do not forget, the “party of Lincoln” and in recent memory there were notables such as Dwight Eisenhower, Everett Dirksen, Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Jack Kemp and, in my own state of Iowa, Congressman Jim Leech, State Legislator Maggie Tinsman. These were conservatives, but conservatives with a heart.
Today, the Republican Party has been taken hostage by right wing extremists, evangelical fundamentalists, and Tea Party revolutionaries. When you put forward, as serious candidates in recent years, people like Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz, no wonder the character of the party drastically changes. Donald Trump is simply the personification of contemporary Republican values “exaggerated to grotesque effect.”
So, when the GOP touts American exceptionalism, Trump and his supporters proclaim “America First” (and to hell with everybody else). When the GOP seeks to cut taxes on the wealthy, Trump and his supporters double down on that, proposing a trickle down program which has proven unworkable. When the GOP holds to a “strict constructionist” view of the Constitution, Trump, to his supporters’ delight, puts forth names of a dozen judges he would consider for the Supreme Court all of whom make Antony Scalia look like a liberal.
When the GOP’s platform calls for enforcement of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, proposes a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and seeks to repeal Roe v. Wade, Donald Trump and his supporters suggest that there should be some kind of criminal penalty for a woman who has an abortion, or at least for doctors performing that procedure. While the GOP continues to block sensible gun legislation because they are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, Trump brags of packing a weapon himself on occasion and believes he would still be supported if he were to gun someone down on Second Avenue.
And, finally (although I could go on and on…) the GOP platform proposes undoing many if not most environmental regulations in favor of “a spirit of cooperation between producers, landowners, and the public. Donald Trump and his supporters would deregulate virtually everything and favor instead unfettered capitalism and the free market. He would, with GOP support, repeal Obamacare, repeal Dodd-Frank, rein in OSHA and the EPA, and sunset “out-of-date” regulations.
These few examples serve to illustrate why establishment Republicans should not be surprised in the least that Donald Trump is the nominee of their party for the presidency of the United States. He is but a caricature of what this once “Grand” Old Party has become. Or, as one wag put it on Donald Trump’s beloved Twitter:
“The mob they used to manipulate has taken the reins.”