Friday, May 6, 2016

A House Divided

There's a weird phenomenon that happens in politics after a primary has concluded: people who were, only moments ago, kicking and punching each other to get to the nomination all of a sudden drop their weapons and start singing Kumbaya.  As human beings, it's unnatural for us to go from enemies to besties overnight.  People remember and hold grudges.  Some longer than others.  Don't believe me? Go watch The Godfather I and II.  Although this weird phenomenon is par for the course, there's something strange happening recently now that Donald Trump has effectively won the nomination for the Republican Party.  Members of the Republican Party who were at odds with Trump during the primary are not dropping their weapons.  They're not singing Kumbaya.  In fact they're doubling down on their opposition to their own party's Presidential nominee:

Washington (CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he cannot yet support presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
"I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now," the Wisconsin Republican told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" in an interview.
Ryan's position makes him the highest-level GOP official to reject Trump since the real estate mogul became the last candidate standing in the party's nominating contest. His move gives down-ballot Republicans cover to hold off on supporting Trump. It could also keep his agenda in the House from being overtaken by Trump's policy positions.
Ryan said he hopes to eventually back Trump and "to be a part of this unifying process." The first moves, though, must come from Trump, he said.
Ryan said he wants Trump to unify "all wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement" and then run a campaign that will allow Americans to "have something that they're proud to support and proud to be a part of."
"And we've got a ways to go from here to there," Ryan said.
Asked whether Trump's proposed Muslim ban, his opposition to free trade and his call to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants would preclude him from ever supporting Trump, Ryan said: "We got work to do."
Trump responded to Ryan late Thursday afternoon, saying in a statement that "I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda. Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people. They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!"
I find this particularly interesting because Trump is merely occupying a space that was quite literally created by the same people who, now all of a sudden, are claiming to be appalled by his occupation of said space.  In other words, the GOP created Trump.  For years, the GOP has pretended to look the other way as anti-minority and anti-female rhetoric has been used by their base and even by their own elected officials.  They were fine when it was just being said among party members, but now that Trump has taken their play book and broadcast it to the entire planet, they're not so sure about things anymore. 

You have to hand it to Trump, however.  His policies aside, the man has masterfully tapped into the sentiment of many disaffected voters who are tired of politics as usual and want to see something different.  But just like the Bernie supporters, the "something different" that the Trump supporters want is totally unrealistic.  The United States is not going to ban Muslims from entering the country, nor is it going to build a wall and make another sovereign nation (Mexico) pay for it.  Much like Bernie's cries of "free college for everybody," these policies might sounds appealing to the base but they're not rooted in reality.   

The GOP is now caught between a rock and a hard place: they can't win the election if they tell these masses to get real, and on the other hand they can't officially co-sign to Trump's rhetoric.  So what's a party to do?
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