A not-so-funny thing is happening on the way to the White House. As Republican elites twist themselves into knots over Donald Trump, somehow Mr. Trump has fostered a big rise from Republican primary voters. “Trump is a convulsion. And convulsions are always disruptive,” writes John O’Sullivan in National Review. Mr. O’Sullivan, a British citizen (with a green card and does not have a vote to cast), asks and answers a number of what he calls obvious questions about the Trump convulsion.
Q: Isn’t he crude and vulgar?
“Yes he is, but for the last 30 years, we have been living in a crude and vulgar culture.” Trump, a successful graduate of show biz, is confident in his ability to survive and win in this environment.
Q: But doesn’t he have only a passing acquaintance with the truth?
“Trump tells falsehoods loosely and spontaneously in a sort of stream-of-consciousness lying to boost his prospects, win over doubters, crush opponents, and save his face.”
Marco Rubio has run “a campaign of deliberate mendacity intended to deceive allies on a matter of the greatest public interest so that they would unknowingly support what they really oppose.” And Hillary Clinton? “… the last person who could make lying the basis of a plausible attack.”
Q: Why does Trump get support from large numbers of voters?
There is a “condescension and snobbery that a new, credentialed, and self-conscious upper class feels toward the rednecks of flyover America.”
Trump’s response—Make America Great Again—is “a disarmingly simple slogan. Because his audiences identify their own decline with America’s, it addresses all their complaints in one. … He has drawn a large, new, and diverse constituency into the Republican party. And he can’t easily be separated from them.”
Q: How big a bind is the GOP in?
Trump is “a high-risk candidate both because of his wayward personality and his high negative poll ratings.” But should party elites try to derail Trump, either at the convention or by a forced union of Rubio and Cruz in later primaries, they would get a lot of pushback from voters and risk driving them “out of the party, maybe into a third party, more likely back into political apathy.”
Q: Since Trump is not a conservative, would the GOP cease to be a conservative party?
Trump is not a conservative. Don’t forget, however, “many members of Republican administrations since 1981 have not been conservatives in the ‘movement’ sense of the term either. In two-party systems, the main parties are large ideological coalitions. Trump or any other leader would have to remember the convictions of his conservative majority when making policy.”
As Mark Steyn asks, “Is it any worse than promulgating a manifesto that could have been written by Adam Smith, but then scrapping it in negotiations with Obama and voting through his budget?”
Republicans, concludes Mr. O’Sullivan, “can either change their policy on immigration or their policies on everything else. Trump stumbled on that insight earlier this year; it may have transformed American politics forever. Or not.”
Read more from John O’Sullivan here.