Donald Trump is currently on a roll with the media, getting his name and politics out there like no other candidate has been able to. His numbers are rising and his exposure is huge. GOP higher ups are worried that he’ll hurt the GOP brand and that he may spoil the 2016 cycle for them. They are, in a word, panicking.
The thing the GOP either doesn’t get or refuses to acknowledge is that Donald Trump’s candidacy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Under more normal circumstances, we would have several politicians who could stand up on the debate stage, say their piece, and we’d choose someone. However, the state of the U.S. and electoral politics is nowhere close to a normal circumstance, and this isn’t just the fault of the Democrats. The GOP has themselves to blame.
The idea that Donald Trump is so damaging to the GOP brand is itself laughable because the GOP has worked rather well in destroying its own brand. When the upper echelons of the party declare outright war on its conservative peers and its conservative voting base (which is much larger than its moderate base), you see what happens to the party. Rife with division, we have a GOP establishment that has constantly pushed out weak candidates with more than just “moderate” leanings and fought tooth and nail to keep conservative candidates out of multiple races. It is very clearly in the pocket of major corporate interests and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but accuses its opponents of being in it for the money.
The worst sin of all is the party establishment’s insistence that the party’s woes are due to conservatives. A party that has repeatedly shunned what its voters want in favor of what corporate interests want cannot blame others for its own mismanagement. However, what do these sins have to do with Trump? He is no conservative by any measurable sense. He’s been a frequent Democrat donor and has supported a host of Democratic policies. But, he champions immigration reform with strong (perhaps too strong) language, and Republican voters seem to really love, or at least enjoy, him. Why?
The Trump Candidacy is not so much about Trump’s appeal, though there is a certain charm to it. Rather, it is a direct repudiation of the “politics as usual” policy of the greater Republican party that has shown itself to be weak on such a vital domestic issue. The GOP has done everything it can to either not fight (or, at times, support) blanket, executive amnesty, the likes of which is a clear overreach of the powers of the executive branch. Their lack of action on an issue that could easily win back a chunk of their support proves they have no clear grasp of how to handle an electorate that is slowly but surely becoming more and more active in electoral politics.
Interestingly, it is seeing Trump succeed that makes the other candidates seem weaker than the bench actually is. Each of the candidates, declared and not, who are running have very distinct policy strengths that could easily fill the void in this summer’s legislative lull. However, their voices are drowned out as the media pays attention to the celebrity who is not only running, but getting decent momentum from his coverage.
I have no doubt that the Trump Candidacy will yield no fruit for the man other than publicity he can use down the road for his business ventures, but it does not exist in a vacuum. It exists due to the efforts of the GOP to stifle its largest voting base and remain out of touch with the voters.