UPDATE: While Trump managed to win the Republican primary, he is still facing utter disaster in the national election against Hillary Clinton as recent polls would suggest.
One of the downfalls of living in a hyper-connected media world is that while good news travels fast, so does the bad. When one of the presidential candidates says something controversial, it gets downloaded into hyperspace and shared millions of times almost instantaneously.
The net effect of this on our psyches cannot be underestimated — it feels like the world is much smaller, much more complicated, and above all, more personal than ever before. And when political campaigns know this and tailor their events and sound bytes to go viral, the onslaught of information can be completely overwhelming.
Donald Trump exists in one way or another on your social media feed, and there’s likely little you can do about it. He is the sole focus of the 2016 presidential election because he continues to say more an more outrageous things — banning muslims from entering the country, calling Mexicans rapists, constructing a giant wall to keep out immigrants and so on — and this gets Trump attention and keeps him relevant. The more we talk about him, the longer he’s here to stay. Liberals can’t shut him up, and the Republicans are now desperately figuring out ways to reign him as they have lost any hope of controlling him.
To liberals (and anyone with human emotion) it must feel like Trump exists to personally antagonize you and everything you hold dear. This grotesque manifestation of America’s ‘Id’ represents the worst of what this country has to offer: shameless greed, unrepentant narcissism and the proud hatred of ‘other’. It is horrifying to watch, and for good reason. Should Trump become president, he would make George W. Bush seem like a reasonable moderate. The thought of Trump attempting to negotiate complicated environmental treaties, manage delicate foreign relations or dealing with America’s tumultuous domestic political landscape is genuinely chilling. Trump has an 8th grader’s understanding of policy, and the emotional maturity of an 18 year old fraternity recruitment. But however terrifying this vision might be, there isn’t actually much to worry about.
The fact is Donald Trump cannot win the Presidency in 2016.
As David Leonhardt notes in the New York Times, a Trump victory, “Would violate just about every historical pattern of presidential races. No modern candidate has received a major-party nomination — and perhaps no candidate in American history — while being opposed by the party’s elites: donors, media figures, politicians and others.”
The Republican establishment cannot stand Trump and are busy trying to figure out a way to get rid of him while shoring up his voters. As Peggy Noonan said on “CBS This Morning”:
I know Republican leaders and stalwarts and state people feel two things. One is that they cannot win the presidency with Donald Trump. the other is that they cannot win the presidency without the support of Trump’s followers. So it’s a delicate little thing.
This “delicate little thing” is basically impossible, as Republicans continue to learn in general elections. John McCain and Mitt Romney spent the primaries in their respective campaigns trying to be as crazy as possible in order to win over the lunatic fringe of Republican voters, then fell flat in the general when the center abandoned them in droves. Post George W. Bush, crazy works only in the short term. As a long term strategy, it is a complete disaster — a fact not lost on the GOP establishment that hoped Jeb Bush would be able to save what is left of their parties White House prospects.
While a bewildering number of polls continue to show Trump’s meteoric rise, as Nate Silver wrote recently, they don’t really mean much until the few weeks preceding the primaries — where history shows Trump might be in for a nasty surprise when voters are confronted with the real prospect of Trump being the Republican nominee. Silver puts Trump’s chance at winning the Republican nomination at “higher than 0 but (considerably) less than 20 percent.”
So Trump may not even get past the Republican primaries, let alone get to take on Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. And if that happens, you heard it here first: he’ll get annihilated by a unified Democratic party that will work day and night to siphon away every Republican moderate in the country.
Donald Trump poses a threat to one particular set of interests in America: the conservative establishment. He is essentially destroying the party from the inside by humiliating the other candidates, refusing to take orders from above, and turning the party into an international laughing stock. Forget Sarah Palin, Hermain Cain, or Michele Bachmann, Trump is the real deal and he’s laying waste to everything around him.
Donald Trump is the disease the Republican party created, and unfortunately for them, they forgot to inoculate themselves first. And this means the Democrats don’t have to do much groundwork for 2016, because Donald Trump is doing it for them. So let’s enjoy the show, and watch the Republican Party disintegrate live on your facebook feed.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.