I’m dead serious. As we lurch inch by painful inch closer to the mid-July Republican National Convention, I finally understand: Trump accepting the support of his party on the stage in Quicken Loans Arena is the best possible outcome for
Is he racist? Absolutely. His foreign policy credentials are sparse, apart from his prodigious ability to alienate individuals of virtually every nationality. (Promising to “win” trade deals with China doesn’t count.) And we’re not even mentioning his four bankruptcies. He’s brash, stubborn and thumbs his nose at subtlety and tact. He’s the wake-up call we need, a harsh reminder that it’s time for the American electorate to snap out of a bad dream and get back to doing its job: electing someone who can guide our country with a deft touch.
If there was ever hope of the Republican Party nominating a reasonable candidate, that optimism dwindles daily. Jeb Bush could have been that man, a decent, intelligent, thoughtful leader. Beyond his rather polarizing pedigree, Bush had eight years of experiencing governing Florida. From his entry to the race, it seemed as though the third of his lineage to run for president had, if not an outright guarantee, a fast track to the nomination.
Moderate enough to appeal to swing voters and more than capable of appealing to an evangelical crowd, Jeb Bush was the smart bet in a game that was, as we now know, profoundly changed by the thundering entrance of one Donald J. Trump. Unable to defend himself against Trump’s constant references to his brother’s failures (and the loss of his coveted domain name), Bush bowed out after South Carolina’s primary.
So who’s left in the Republican race? Marco Rubio replaces Bush as the rational voice at the table, but there is reason to doubt that Rubio has what it takes to hold his own against the top two: Trump and Texas senator Ted Cruz. Mocked for his robotic debate performance in recent weeks, let’s dispel once and for all the notion that Rubio is savvy enough to compete against a pair of pugnacious ideologues; the young Florida legislator brings a metaphorical knife to what could be a very literal gunfight (if Mr. Trump has his way, at any rate). Maybe he’ll get his turn in the spotlight a few years or decades down the line, but as of now, Rubio will likely have to content himself with serving as an also-ran.
Cruz is perhaps even more dangerous than Trump; he’s more tactful, as admirably brilliant as he is universally disliked by colleagues and ex-roommates and remarkably good at presenting arguments that would sound ludicrous coming from virtually anyone else. The former solicitor general of Texas, Cruz is a showman. He lacks support from the establishment and for good reason; he has lambasted House Speaker Mitch McConnell and former Senate Majority Leader John Boehner.
GOP nominee in 2008 and universally respected representative John McCain termed colleague Cruz a “wacko bird” after Cruz threatened to derail the nomination of Secretary of Defense and fellow Republican Chuck Hagel. But in an increasingly perplexing presidential race, the mainstream party’s disinclination to support Cruz plays right into his hands. It allows Senator Cruz to term himself a Washington outsider despite his service on Capitol Hill and his Ivy League education. And for the same reasons that the aforementioned Bush bowed out, Cruz is on the rise. That brings me to Trump.
I support Donald Trump for the party nomination because he’s not threatening. Even as their kin cast ballots in his favor, many Republican voters have ruled him out as a viable candidate. He’s a baldfaced caricature, a representation of our ugliest thoughts and most uncomfortable fears, and given the choice between him and one of the two ever-so-slightly more appealing Democratic candidates, Americans will almost certainly make the right decision. I hope.
The Donald Trump experiment has been … well, it’s been something. His campaign began as a joke of sorts, one last round of comedic material for Jon Stewart prior to his retirement, one more punching bag for liberal talk shows. Then it materialized into something more significant than even fairly optimistic supporters could have hoped for. I hope he gets the nomination, because perhaps that will remind us that, yes, voting does matter. No, there is no invisible barrier that prevents loudmouthed xenophobes from taking our nation’s highest office. We are that roadblock. It’s time for us to step up.