In the end, parties can only influence — it’s voters who actually decide. And the Republican Party has, for whatever reason, lost its ability to influence its voters. Donald J. Trump is winning this thing, and so far, Ted Cruz, the only guy elite Republicans hate more than Trump, is vying for second place. The fact that Republican voters seem to prefer candidates who their party is screaming not to trust reveals a profound failure in the GOP’s core role. The Republican Party is broken.
The Republican assault on Donald Trump was vast. The Republican Party did try to veto Trump — as did everyone else. Trump has come under a coordinated assault from the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the media that is unlike anything in my lifetime. The first Republican debate featured Fox News — arguably the single most powerful actor in the modern Republican Party — trying to cut Trump’s candidacy to shreds. The harsh questioning, which touched on everything from his past heterodoxies to his friendship with Hillary Clinton to his misogyny, kicked off a feud between Fox News and Trump that continues to this day. The National Review which acts as the official magazine of American conservatism, pulled contributors from every wing of the movement to write a Stop Trump issue. The festival of contributions — which included everyone from Glenn Beck to Erick Erickson to Bill Kristol — were clustered under the headline “Conservatives Against Trump.” The magazine’s own editorial was entitled “Against Trump,” and it began by calling Trump “a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.” And there have been plenty of smaller skirmishes. Remember McCain-gate, when the Republican Party tried to use their base’s veneration of military heroes to destroy Trump?
This is how parties veto. They send signals. They mobilize their influencers. They use the media. They make sure that the party faithful know that this isn’t our kind of guy, he doesn’t believe what we believe, he isn’t the kind of person we support.
Republicans know all that. They’ve heard their party. They’ve heard everyone else, too — the condemnations of Trump have been a nonstop clamor, a roar that’s drowned out all other political coverage. But Republican primary voters just don’t give a shit. It’s worse than that — they like that Trump pisses off the establishment. The backlash only makes him stronger.
The realities of an anti-establishment wave :
Everyone says this is an anti-establishment year, but elites are just mouthing the words; they still don’t quite believe it. They still think that if only the Republican establishment had been a bit better organized, a bit quicker on the draw, they could have kept control. The truth is probably closer to the opposite.