Trump firing the Republican Party

It should come as no surprise that President Donald Trump is in outright warfare with the leaders of the Republican Party. He never was a real Republican.

Way back in 2016 when he was running in the primaries, I wrote as reason to not vote for him in the GOP primary:

“He has an identity problem: He was a Democrat from 2001-2009 and before 1987; a Reform Party candidate from 1999-2001; an Independent from 2011-2012; and Republican from 2012 to the present, 2009-2011 and 1987 to 1999. That’s six switches.”

In short, Donald Trump always was and always will be undefined. He is a man of the moment. He is reactive rather than proactive. He knows what he is against — much of what his predecessors put in place. He rescinds; he doesn’t originate. He is a maverick. He is unaligned. He has no loyalties to a creed, a philosophy or the people around him who stand for a consistent point of view. He is a political entrepreneur, always ready for the next political pivot.

So what else to make of him?

Some pundits are labeling him as an independent. That doesn’t work for me. Most independents I know have abiding mix of positions; their views just don’t line up with either of the two parties. Typical is a citizen who is fiscally conservative but flexible on social issues.

To label Trump an independent misses the essence of the man. In reality, no political labels apply,

Foremost, he is an entertainer. He relies on new chapters in his soap opera to hold his audience. That explains his regular use of the line — “You’re fired!” — to members of his White House staff.

Among the casualties was Reince Priebus, former head of the Wisconsin and national Republican Party. This is the guy who gave candidate Trump the ground game to win the general election. Priebus is an operative, but he believed in what the GOP was selling. If you fire the former head the party as chief of staff, are you a Republican?

Trump has made it clear in recent weeks that he would love to fire just about all the Republican leaders in Congress (Speaker Ryan, Sens. McConnell, McCain, Corker, Graham, Flake). But he is slowly learning that they don’t report to him; they report to their constituents.

Unlike despots in other countries, he can’t fire them. With great foresight, our founders built in checks and balances, so the legislature and judiciary are independent of the White House. That separation of powers must be very frustrating for a president like Trump, who likes to govern by executive order.

On the entertainment front, the president obsesses about the journalists he professes to despise. Their coverage is catnip for him. Most leaders have a mission in mind and forge ahead with their agendas regardless of the critics in the cheap seats. This guy cares more about the commentary than the substance.

He is into ratings, polls and crowd sizes at his unending campaign events. (Note to Mr. Trump: the campaign is over). He did with as a TV personality in the ratings. What he doesn’t get is that ratings assess what people watch, not what they think about your effectiveness. Entertainment is a diversion from life, not real life.

He invariably sees his crowds as bigger than they really were and opposing groups as small than they were.

I wake up every morning and close every day wondering what surprise the President riffed off the night before or during the work day. The Tweets are always there. Fascinating to watch, but disheartening on the serious side of life. But I am sure his TV ratings remain high, which explains in part why he gets so much coverage.

At the same time, his polling numbers continue to fall in large swaths of the electorate. The polls measure not his showmanship, but his presidential performance.
On those metrics, this man who claims to be a winner is a proving to be a loser. In a recent poll, he was at exceptionally low in approval ratings with women (23%), college grads (24%) and votes under 45 (29%).

Even chunks of his “base” are eroding, such as men (41%), voters over 45 (37%) and whites without college degrees (38%). That’s the group that will stick the longest with Trump. They show up at his rallies. They will deny the erosion, claiming a not-so-silent majority still exists. But his fall from grace is not fake news.

It seems like Donald Trump has been in office for a decade. Like him or not, he generates sensory overload, even when he is on vacation.

Meanwhile, all of us who are along for the ride should give up trying to label him. He defies any brand.

As for the Republican Party, it’s going to have to figure out how to unwind a bad marriage.

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  • Pat Egan

    John;
    Could this be a “third party” movement? He is indeed separating himself, and his followers, from the institutional Republican Party. But he has clearly spoken to a party of angry conservatives, which includes race haters and xenophobes, but which also includes a lot of just angry “tear it all down” folks. If he were to be impeached or isolated by the institutional parties, there will be decades of anger and reaction by as much as a third of the nation. The growth of these people into Republican primaries might be the wedge that creates a whole new party, or forces the traditional Republican to either independence or a right-of-center democratic party. It has started.

  • Duke

    There are two efforts afoot at the present time, one of which may have picked up steam as a result of the Trump Presidency and the other that will feed off of it while also being the recipient of the national feeling that we should fire, “…all the Republican leaders in Congress (Speaker Ryan, Sens. McConnell, McCain, Corker, Graham, Flake).”

    The first is the formation of the Federalist Party. This is a rapidly building political party of evangelical Christians who espouse both fiscal and social conservatism. To put it bluntly, they want to “cut the guts out of the federal government.” Considering how the feds seem to have a bad case of reverse Midas Touch, not a bad idea. States’ Rights was a bedrock belief of the Founders of our country, so much so that they tried the Articles of Confederation before they had to back that document off a bit in order to actually realize their goal of “E pluribus unum.” The D.C. denizens have, over the years, morphed the national motto into something that looks more like “E unum pluribus” – From One Many.

    The other effort is that of the Convention of States Project. Under Article V of the Constitution, if 34 or more states (two thirds) call for a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution the Congress must set a time and place for the convention (that is their ONLY legal involvement). Presently the organizers need about another 10 state legislatures to call for the convention and we’re off to the races. Whatever comes out of the convention would need the ratification of 38 states (three fourths) to actually amend the Constitution. Three changes would almost certainly come from this convention: Term limits, where people like John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Robert Byrd would be “fired”; a balanced budget amendment, to keep our $20 trillion of current debt from spiraling beyond our national ability to cope with debt service, and a redefinition of the General Welfare and Commerce clauses of the Constitution to prevent the Federal Government from being involved in ruling our everyday lives.

    The views above are, from an historical perspective, concurrent with the view of those brilliant men who created this nation. I have no doubt they would be shocked to see that today we need to restate their original intention to live in a nation of States’ Rights with citizen legislators, rather than the centralized collection of “political professionals” who dictate what freedoms they see as enumerated unto the Federal Government and the select few.

    Perhaps Trump stumbled into the right place at the right time in order to accidentally accomplish something badly needed by our nation.

    Please note that I did NOT vote for Trump!

  • Bill Kraus

    The 6 billion dollar campaign industry has a formula for political success. It starts with money and what remains of mass media. The candidate hires a media expert and a pollster. Then the professionals build an ad hominem campaign against the candidate’s opponent. And, mostly, whoever has the most money wins. At the end of 2016 some 85% of the voters said they hated this formula and the candidates it produced. The campaign industry which is richly rewarded under the 2016 formula has routinely ignored the 85%. Is it time put them in business and trash the old formula? If the Republicans won’t do this, maybe it’s time for a 3rd party movement which thinks it’s time to abandon the single wing and go with the T-formatiion.

    • Duke

      You got it, Bill. Case in point: In 2015 Hillary did a poll on what was perceived as her weakest point in the voting public’s mind. (This was a “real” internal poll, not one of the political propaganda polls we are spoon-fed at election time by the propagandist media.) Her weakest issue was her associations with the Russians, i.e., mainly the approval of the sale of a huge amount of uranium to the Ruskies while she was Sec. of State (which, by the way, ended up in the hands of the Iranians, who helped out their bestest buds, the NORKs).

      The way she got the monkey off her back was to project the issue onto Trump’s strongest perceived asset, his nationalism and patriotism. Thus, we get the “collusion” issue – supposedly Trump was colluding with the Russians to hack our electoral system. Result: No one really knows what collusion looks like, though the propagandist media is hawking it, and no one is talking about Hillary’s collaboration with the Russians/Iranians/NORKs. Sadly, (for her anyway) the worst evil lost the election and the lesser of the two evils won; The greater evil walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars, that the lesser of two evils already had in his pocket.