Sunday, May 8, 2016

Don't Like Trump? Does Trump-Christie Make You Feel Better?

I've read some scary headlines over the past few months about the primaries and the Trump march to the GOP nomination, but now that it's all-but-official, the race for his running mate is beginning to take shape.

The early signs are, of course, terrible: Chris Christie, the roach of the GOP, is back in the national kitchen baseboard.  You read that right, and I hope you weren't eating.

In a truly remarkable political year, the party that runs on wars--on Christmas, Coal, and Women--has finally declared war on itself.  Both presidents Bush, and the one who did not get there, have all said that they will not go to the GOP convention in Cleveland this summer and will likely not even vote for president in November, even though they could write in Jeb. What a family. Conservatives across the country, from George Will to Russ Douthat to Mitt Romney and myriad others, have urged their fellow Republicans to oppose Trump, nominate a third party candidate or, apostasy!, vote for Hillary. And they're doing this because they believe that Donald Trump is not temperamentally suited for the Oval Office (the man's not even suited for Ovaltine, if truth be told). On this, they are correct.

But there is another reason the GOP faithful are abandoning Trump, and that's because he hasn't supported the Reaganite vision of conservatism the party has been pushing since the 1970s. Never mind that Reagan couldn't get elected in a Ted Cruz party, but the sentiment is clear. On this point, that the party needs a true conservative, they are absolutely wrong, and that's why Trump is the nominee. The GOP has alienated its base so thoroughly, they'll follow Trump's isolationist, anti-immigrant, misogynistic, racist rantings all the way to November (of course, many Trump supporters do agree with his ideas). The base doesn't care about the economics of tax cuts or shrinking the government programs that have kept them afloat for the past few decades. They want their power and their middle class wage jobs back. A more conservative candidate, they have rightfully identified, will not help. So what's really happened is that the conservatives think the party needs to go farther to the right, but the evidence is showing exactly the opposite. That's not a recipe for success in November.

How will Chris Christie help? He can be a true conservative even though he isn't one. He can also, perhaps, batter the Democratic VP candidate into submission the way he did Marco Rubio. He can be Trump's pit bull on the campaign trail. While these are important attributes, I doubt that they will help Trump, which is why I don't think Christie will be his running mate. Then again, who thought we'd be where we are now? A unified GOP could not elect John McCain or Mitt Romney. A fatally split party will have a hard time electing Donald Trump.

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