The final debate confirmed Trump’s infantile political campaigning. Clearly Trump is playing on a different field than any prior presidential candidate. That conclusion should lead observers to question his true motives in running for the nomination in the first place.
If we presume it was simply intemperance that led him to fall into the trap of denying the importance of the legitimacy of succession in a democratic republic, then we are left with trying to explain his response the next day. Reiteration not restatement We have seen that kind of Trump response before. Attempting to explain the response takes us into the realm of political psychoanalysis, not political science, just conjecture.
I suggest two possibilities: 1) Trump has been perpetually at war with traditional Republicans presumably because many Republicans don’t recognize the legitimacy of his candidacy or 2) Trump never really wanted to be the President and campaigned only because he loved being in the limelight. He hardly put his own money where his mouth was. He let a supine media provide his ammunition. The latter equates to a something to do when you have done everything else, a kind of occupational narcissism, hardly a solid motivation for becoming the leader of the free world. In any case, concluding with an abject failure of strategy, the presidential race ended Monday if had not already done so after the first debate. The legacy of his failure, however, is yet to be played out. What might it be
Consequential Outcomes: If you subscribe to the predictive quality of recent polls you may conclude that the Republican Party is about to suffer a monumental defeat in Congress. Then what Higher taxes, bigger government, a monumental shift to a more invasive Supreme Court, lesser judicial appointments that create a long term pattern of more judicial interference and a more permanent establishment of Presidential authority via Executive Orders Each is a very real possibility. It is a constellation of majority over minority interests. It is the worst case scenario feared by our Founders.
If this is the ultimate consequence of the Trump campaign, the Republican party will be at the crossroads of political survival, hemmed in by Tea Party non-cooperation and continuing defeats at the polls of reasoned Republican conservatism.’ In those Congressional districts that continue to send Tea Party representatives to Congress, there will be total disillusionment with our conventional political institutions. In districts that cannot elect a Tea Party candidate, moderate Republican candidates that believe in our political institutions even when they are the minority party will find themselves increasingly isolated. In either case, R.I.P. will be the current Republican Party’s obituary.
That leaves open Ripon II as the ultimate outcome of this campaign disaster. It has happened before, and perhaps it is necessary for American politics to experience a monumental revolt in order to revive some semblance of a viable two party system. Ripon I destroyed the old Whig party and created the foundations of a new and vital party that could be a majority party when it fused the parochial interests of many small, one-issue parties such as the Free Soilers, Abolitionists and Know Nothings to a semblance of Whig principles. What could a Ripon II achieve
The central governance arguments of modern conservatives are that effective property rights create the basis for human rights, that the evidence of failure of Big Government is overwhelming and that the movement of political power from local to national control is a fatal weakness in a republican democracy. The Founding Fathers were fearful of overweening Federal power, and rightly so. The triumph of a majority faction, over the minority was the central fear of the Founding Fathers when writing our Constitution.
Republicans have strayed far from the path of limited government, particularly in the second Bush Administration. A failure to understand the importance of limits to Federal power and catering to the demand for more rights led to a true inconsistency in Republican political philosophy. Doing the right thing, became increasingly less important than winning the next national election. What is the best that modern Liberals (using the 19th century notion of Liberalism) can hope for What should they do on Election Day
My answer is to pull the Libertarian lever at the top of the ballot and then carefully cruise down the ballot to select Republican candidates that might block the further accretion of federal over local decision-making. Perhaps the Libertarian party will wind up with more than 5% of the total vote and a chance to evolve into a major alternative Perhaps, it can become one of the critical sources of Ripon II.
Bottom Line: Not voting for Trump but still voting is important in bringing about the massive change needed in the Republican Party. Not voting at all defeats even the possibility of reform. Get over this defeat and think constructively about the future. That is the message of this abortive campaign for those still believing in the American Experiment.