Politics & Policy

Republican Self-Sabotage

Ann Coulter (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

The latest CBS poll suggests that the Trump juggernaut continues to roll, with 35 percent of Republicans supporting him. Ted Cruz, his nearest rival, garners 18 percent. Jeb Bush, the candidate who should have been the obvious choice if conventional wisdom about money and politics were even remotely true, is dead last with 4 percent. In vain does Ted Cruz protest that Donald Trump is not a conservative. Among those who describe themselves as “very conservative,” 35 percent favor Trump versus 30 percent for Cruz, and 12 percent for Marco Rubio.

In South Carolina, Trump is ahead among the Evangelical voters Ted Cruz targeted as his savior army that would rise up to carry a true conservative to victory. According to a Fox News poll (2/18), Trump leads Cruz 31 percent to 23 percent among Evangelical Christians. And while Cruz leads among those who identify as “very conservative” it’s a razor thin edge (well within the margin of error).

As in New Hampshire, Trump leads nationally among a broad swath of voters. Not only those with just a high-school diploma (47 percent) but also those with some college (33 percent), as well as college graduates (25 percent). He is the preference of men and women and among all income groups including those earning more than $100,000.

RELATED: Day of the Demagogues

Any number of theories have been advanced about the Trump voters — that they represent the downscale whites who have been abandoned by the Republican party, or that they are enraged by Republican failure to secure the border.

But as noted, Trump does well among upscale voters, too. As for the great immigration rage, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Immigration was listed last among matters that were on voters’ minds in Iowa and New Hampshire. Besides, Trump did well even among voters who said they favored a path to citizenship for illegals living here.

No, there’s a better theory for why 35 percent of Republican primary voters are ready to hand the nomination to a bullying, loutish con man who accuses George W. Bush of war crimes while promising to commit some of his own (killing the wives and children of suspected terrorists, stealing the oil of Middle Eastern nations).

#share#For the past several years, leading voices of what Matt Lewis has called “con$ervative” media, along with groups like Heritage Action, and politicians such as Senator Ted Cruz, have ceaselessly flogged the false storyline that the Republican “grassroots” have been betrayed by the Republican leadership in Washington.

Rather than aim their anger at President Obama and the Democrats, commentators such as Ann Coulter and Mark Levin, right-wing websites, and many others have instead repeated the libel that “Republicans gave Obama everything he wanted.” There has been a flavor of the “stab in the back” to these accusations. But for the treachery of the Republican party, they claim, a party too timorous or too corrupt to stand up to Obama, we could have defunded Obamacare, balanced the budget, halted the Iran deal, you name it.

Aiming fire at your own side can be very satisfying for radio wranglers, et al. They have zero influence on Obama, but they can take down Eric Cantor. They can’t do much about Eric Holder, but they can dethrone John Boehner.

Congratulations to those conservatives who’ve been preaching the ‘betrayal’ of the base by the establishment. You’ve won.

This is not to say that Republican leaders were perfect or that they couldn’t have done more in some instances to put bills on Obama’s desk — even if only to force vetoes and lay down markers for the next election. But the list of Obama initiatives Republicans thwarted is very long (universal pre-K, gun control, “paycheck fairness,” higher taxes). Moreover, the bloc of conservatives in the House that refused to vote for any budget made it that much more difficult for leadership to exert pressure on Democrats. Lastly, who believes it makes no difference that Republicans control the Senate in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death?

So congratulations to those conservatives who’ve been preaching the “betrayal” of the base by the establishment. You’ve won. You’ve convinced 70 percent of the Republican primary electorate (per the CBS poll) that the most important quality in a candidate is that he will “shake up the political system.”

With all its faults, the Republican party is the only vehicle for conservative ideas in this country. Conservatives themselves, or at least those who styled themselves conservatives, may have sabotaged it, handing the reins not to a moderate, nor even to a liberal Republican, but to a lifelong Democrat.

Most Popular

Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1139263782142787585 Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

On Painting Air Force One

And so it has come to this. Two oil tankers were just attacked in the Gulf of Oman, presumably by Iran. The United States and China are facing off in a confrontation that is about far more than trade. The southern border remains anarchic and uncontrolled. And Congress is asking: “Can I get the icon in ... Read More