Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jcunninghamwrites.
The Republican Party faces a dilemma. That dilemma is a real estate mogul who decided to run for president. Donald Trump is proving to be a thorn in the GOP’s side as he continues to poll with about a quarter of the GOP vote. While polls fifteen months away from the election prove very little at this stage, we do see that he has staying power many people, including myself, were not sure he had.
Ross Douthat at the New York Times and Erick Erickson at RedState have come to the same conclusion: How the Republican Establishment handles Donald Trump will determine whether they live or not. There is a major discontent within the base of the Republican Party, and it is a discontent caused by the Establishment of the party constantly refusing to keep the promises they make upon their election and re-election.
It is exactly this behavior, and the constant and very public rejection of the base that rubs salt in the wounds, that has made Donald Trump the man of the hour and has put the GOP at risk. The Whig Party refused to change with the times and get behind the rejection of slavery. This refusal led to their death as a party and gave rise to the Republican Party. Now, the Republican Party is refusing to change, though in this instance, it is a refusal to change back to what they once were – a party that stood for smaller government, lower taxes, and the free market.
John Boehner and Mitch McConnell specifically have themselves to blame for this problem. Their actions (and in many cases, their inaction as well) has created a void from which they are struggling to escape. If Boehner, who is a known political survivor, cannot adapt to the times, then he could lose his seat as Speaker. We saw Eric Cantor, the majority leader in the House, lose his own primary in a spectacularly embarrassing fashion because he was not paying enough attention to his own district, and was in the pocket of corporate interests. John Boehner could very well be headed for the same scrap heap, as will McConnell and the others of their kind in D.C.
This primary is opening up a lot of eyes around the country. The party will need to decide whether or not they wish to adapt or perish.