Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @joec_esquire.
Donald Trump is a thing in national presidential politics. A lot of people are frankly shocked at this, but it’s happening. I don’t particularly care for the guy as a candidate – he has been a major Democrat donor (including to Hillary Clinton), he is for single-payer, etc. – but there is something about his campaign that people in Washington D.C. can’t quite pick out.
“Why is Donald Trump a thing,” they ask. That curiosity has turned to outright anger. They don’t like that he’s making some headway and now leading in several polls. They are certain that Trump will pave the way for Hillary in 2016. I don’t blame them for their anger. I am angry as well. But, there is a simple reason that these GOP folks are overlooking or ignoring.
They have completely shut out the base of the Republican party in order to keep special interests happy. It may shock you to know that a very large group of conservative voters do not like big businesses running the party or the country. They don’t like that the biggest beneficiaries of government are special interest groups. They want something different.
Enter Donald Trump. The GOP Leadership has completely given up on securing the border and solving immigration. Trump, already well-known and a crowd-holder, speaks out against the GOP’s capitulation on the subject, and the conservative base is enthralled. His poll numbers shoot up, and he will be on the debate stage on August 6.
Is Trump going to win? No. Is he going to go third party and ruin things? Well, maybe (though he did assure the folks at RedState he was not going to – his invitation to their big Gathering the weekend of the debate would’ve been revoked). However, the conservatives will move on and find someone else they like.
Trump’s campaign will fizzle out as the other candidates get into their grooves and the novelty of Trump wears off. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and others will be there to get those supporters. Polling right now really only means that the person on top has been very visible. They don’t mean the person on top is going to win.
But the GOP leadership needs to re-evaluate its priorities before they drive off any and all support they have left. And, given how things in Congress looked this past week… well, that might not be so far off.