Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

The State of the GOP, and Where It Goes From Here


To the chagrin of many, what I am about to write about is not far from reality as of now, despite how early on in the campaign season we are. And it does not take a pundit to analyze the potential realities of the future Republican primary nomination and 2016 general election.

Despite common sense, the current trend of American opinion, and any correlation to the general welfare of the American people, Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican primary race. Granted, these results flow from the established theory that the candidates with the most name recognition win primary elections. Trump’s persona is outlandish to say the least, and skirts even these justifications. He exemplifies the well-known phrase “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”

Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and now Marco Rubio have been trampled under the stampede of support for Donald Trump in a multiplicity of states, including Rubio’s native state Florida.

John Kasich and Ted Cruz have been the only Republican candidates up until now to win their own states, while Trump has won just about everywhere else. But these small victories, even if linked to future victories for either candidate, just will not be enough to undermine the firm support surrounding the leader of this race. This is looking like an uphill battle that neither will be able to win. Both Kasich and Cruz are fighting for the scraps of the non-Trump voting population, which only cuts away at the abilities of each to gain any traction in their valiant efforts, as their percentages and poll numbers get significantly cut in the midst of such struggles.

If things continue as they are now, there is a viable possibility that Trump will win the Republican nomination, despite protests from leaders of the GOP and seemingly just about everyone on this planet. But let’s get down to brass tacks. How has Donald Trump been so dominant? Whose interests does he appeal to? Where will his interests shift if he gets the Republican nomination?

Throughout his campaign, Trump has drawn most of his support from a unique, underrepresented demographic in modern politics: the less-educated, less-well-off white population who are looking for short-term answers to any and all of the Obama administration’s supposed blunders, such as his intended immigration reform. In talking harsh domestic immigration policy and general isolationism, this Republican tycoon has been able to mobilize a political voice that has drowned about just about every other Republican voter, moderate or reactionary, politically conscious or not. His “anti-establishment” politics appeal to the anger that has fueled many conservative voters to fulfill their civil duty to vote, purely to get the Democratic party out of the White House.

In fact, it seems as though this is the centerpiece of most of Trump’s supporters’ ideal agenda: opposition and contradiction to the liberal agenda, no matter the cost. Where the conventional liberal voter looks to protect and assimilate illegal immigrants in an effort to boost the national economy, the Trump supporter hopes for promotion and protection of jobs for the natural-born yet impoverished American citizens. Where a Democratic supporter may vote for a candidate advocating for free trade and maintenance of civil international relations, the reactionary Trump supporter looks for a candidate that puts domestic interests first, pushing for isolationism and cutting away at the national debt before pledging aid elsewhere. Granted, there are often exceptions to these norms on both sides of the party line, especially among more moderate candidates such as Marco Rubio or Mitt Romney’s advocacy of free trade in the name of increased economic prosperity, or Bernie Sanders’ protectionist foreign policy. But Trump’s supporters do not recognize such ideological miscegenation, and therefore Trump firmly categorizes his policies as firmly to the right, to make things simpler.

Sound familiar? That is because, at its core, Trump’s proposed agenda is not nearly as polarized as many make it out to be. That is not to say that his proposals for immigration or foreign policy are feasible in moving this country forward. Trump is putting America first, with a lack of regard for how cooperation and compromise in international relations protect American interests. He would rather result to straightforward, business-like coercion that sacrifice many allied relationships the United States maintains today, even if that means supporting autocratic regimes or withdrawal from alliances and partnerships. Donald Trump is winning because his proposed policies would give jobs to a politically neglected middle-lower class. His voters envision his bringing an efficiency to politics similar to that of the private sector. In taking such stances, Trump can take no prisoners, and must be resolute in all sweeping statements he makes, despite the bridges that burned in the RNC along the way.

Such circumstances beg a myriad of questions. Where do things go from here? Who can survive in this ridiculously lopsided circus race for the Republican nomination? Who can save the Republican party from an all but inevitable sweep on the part of Trump?

Enter a valiant effort on the part of the rest of the Republican establishment to broker the Republican national convention.

Unpack this statement, and a voter will find a variety of current circumstances that could potentially bring the GOP to oust one of the more divisive presidential candidates the party has seen in decades.

Mitt Romney has already publicly denounced Trump’s campaign, and in doing so has submitted both himself and Republicans such as Paul Ryan into the conversation concerning a possible coup in the Republican convention against Trump. Such measures have not been taken in the GOP since 1948, when Thomas E. Dewey was selected as an alternate candidate.

Such measures might prove more effective in the fight against Trump since last-ditch efforts to back Kasich or Cruz would be fundamentally futile given the current imbalances in the polls.

However, it may be too early to put forward such a resolution absolutely, since many members of the RNC are already beginning to justify Trump as a somewhat viable nominee. Only time will tell.
But needless to say, the RNC must make quick decisions that would optimally unite the party under the candidate deemed most appropriate to be the Republican nominee. The time is now. Either divert the Trump train, or prepare for what many would deem the most controversial Republican campaign effort in the past two centuries.

This article was authored by Connor Saeman, a member of the Vanderbilt Class of 2019.

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The State of the GOP, and Where It Goes From Here