We have held our fire in the increasingly bitter controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency.
The truth is that our feelings were mixed.
We yield to no one in our growing concern – and contempt – for the self-appointed “elite” which from “Inside the Beltway” is attempting to run the country for the benefit, they tell us, of the rest of us. Nothing could be more antagonistic to the concept the American Republic and its dedication to democracy.
On the other hand, we find The Donald something of an enigma. He certainly has fire in his belly and is in the good populist fight to express the exasperation and resentment of a large part of the population toward the leadership. But taking up arms against the elite is not enough; it requires from a leader not only knowledge of the policy issues and alternative solutions to those problems, but savvy about the process. That’s where Trumpism leaves off – it has been almost exclusively foot stamping and bellicose rhetoric.
But we concede that even that has served a purpose. It has shaken up the all too conformist political hacks of both parties, all too willing to get along to go along. In our complicated lifestyle, it is all too easy for the great mass of voters to leave their politics to surrogates. After all, few of us have the time and energy – and money — to pursue politics at the level of participation in organizations that must carry on the intricate poll-sitting that is required to build political machines and support in the fifty states.
That brings us to our current complaint.
It’s much too easy for the Trumpets to yell and scream about The Establishment and the domination of a corrupt Republican Party National Committee. Trump leads that kind of talk, of course. But is it really accurate?
The so-called GOP Establishment is a pretty large and accommodating group. As far as we know, it admits anyone who has, again, the time, energy and wherewithal to participate in the Party activities. True, enough, that includes a lot of Party faithful who have been elected to public office. Why would it not? Most have put in long hours and often sacrificed other interests to become a part of a vast machine. After all, the state committees and their organization are pretty much built from the ground up, not the creatures of the Republican National Committee as some of Trumps’ supporters have claimed.
When the chosen delegates in a state like Colorado turn out to be fulltime political activists and officials of the state parties, it is hardly surprising. True enough, as the Trumpeters have argued, these are not the new voters – many of them disaffected Democrats – who are flocking to Trump by the tens of thousands. But neither are they necessarily unrepresentive professionals who do not echo the new mass of voters who have endorsed Trump in one way or another.
The fact is that Trump, perhaps precisely because he is a one-man band shouting and screaming slogans we want to hear, hasn’t taken the time and effort [and money?] to organize local delegates. They are “delegates”, that is, they are semi-professionals whom the rest of us busy voters normally hand off the chores of nominating candidates for office, putting together the machinery which gets them through several ballots, and, ultimately, setting up the major campaigns between the two parties.
What we see happening now, of course, is that at the same time Trump is being forced to put some meat on the bones of his slogans for the coming more serious policy debate, his followers are also getting down into the mud of selecting delegates. That they didn’t do it before is less a case of their having been purposely excluded than that they thought – or perhaps didn’t think – they could wage a successful campaign without state and national organizations.
Whether the Trumpets can manage to put this kind of machine together before the opening of the convention in July remains to be seen. If they don’t, and Trump does not roll up the necessary majority of delegates before the convention opens, that first ballot is likely to be the only one he wins, before his enthusiastic but amateurish following dissolves, as the old tried and true selection profess continues on its way. But blaming it on the system rather than their lack or misplaced efforts is a false charge by Trump and his followers.