The inevitable has finally happened. After defeating a host of 17 other candidates like Odysseus fending off Penelope’s suitors upon returning to Ithaca, Donald Trump has become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas Senator Ted Cruz were his two latest victims, both dropping out shortly after getting demolished in the Indiana Republican Primary by the Donald, despite both vowing to fight until the bitter end. With these two final suitors to the throne defeated, any and all talks of a contested Republican convention have ended and his path to the nomination has cleared.
Donald Trump defied all expectations set out by the media, pundits, other candidates, and the general public. Through an unorthodox strategy of mocking his opponents and browbeating his critics coupled with his signature bombastic rhetoric, Donald Trump has gone from being the butt of some cruel, twisted joke to being a very real contender to be the next leader of the “free” world. He has risen to the top by destroying any and all opponents while simultaneously fanning his own flames of support. But through this process, Trump has also driven a wooden stake deep into the heart of the GOP establishment.
Donald Trump’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate thus effectively marks the party’s death after nearly a decade-long downward spiral that began with the election of President Barrack Obama in 2008 and the subsequent rise of far-right sentiment within the GOP. The party’s descent into hell was further fueled by theocratic, uncompromising politicians that would sooner burn down Capitol Hill than attempt to work with the other party. Trump rise within the Republican ranks represents the culmination of extreme ideologies and rhetoric that has been spewed by the right for the past eight years, making him the perfect caricature of what the modern-day Republican party has devolved to. By running for president, Trump has provided the perfect vector through which Americans can express their racist, backwards beliefs without fear of repercussion because they are simply doing so under the guise of being politically incorrect.
Donald Trump’s astounding and worrisome rise conveniently follows the Kübler-Ross model, more commonly known as the five stages of grief, which is the emotional process humans undergo following the loss of a loved one or a romantic relationship. The death of the Republican party is no different.
At first, many denied that Trump could ever garner enough support to even be a contender for the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency. They questioned how a spray-tanned reality TV star who has offended nearly every major voting bloc in this country through his absurd comments could possibly get any support. They wondered whether he was seriously running for president or if he was simply doing it for the publicity and limelight. Regardless of his intentions, they assured themselves that his campaign would crash and burn in due time.
As the weeks and months dragged on, naysayers became increasingly angry at the fact that Trump’s campaign still hadn’t sunk under the weight of his hateful rhetoric and inane policies. They began to grow concerned that his support was actually growing rather than shrinking and that he was winning contest after contest. Where other people’s racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, or otherwise ignorant comments have cost them their entire careers, Trump surges in the polls every time he says something of this nature.
Republican candidates began dropping like flies left and right, soon leaving us with the final three: Donald Trump, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz. Realizing that they could not defeat Trump alone and at best, prevent him from reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination uncontested, the Kasich and Cruz campaigns bargained with each other as a last-ditch attempt to stop Trump. Kasich wouldn’t campaign in states were Cruz was polling better than he was and vice versa, with the thought being that this would unify the anti-Trump vote of that state behind one candidate instead of splitting it between the two. This failed miserably, however.
It was clear that the GOP establishment was frantically looking for a way to keep Trump from securing the delegates needed to win the nomination but alas, their attempts fell significantly short. Both Kasich and Cruz got hammered by the Donald, with neither of them winning any of the past seven primaries. Kasich and Cruz served as the last line of defense for the Republican establishment and their defeat crushed any hopes of stumping Trump. This led to the disillusionment and depression of many long-time Republicans who could not believe the state to which their once-glorious party had deteriorated to, with some vowing to leave the party or even vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election rather than supporting Trump.
Many Republican voters and insiders soon began to realize the inevitably of Trump’s victory and decided to jump aboard the Trump Train. Within moments of Ted Cruz’ announcement that he was suspending his campaign, RNC chairman Reince Priebus tweeted the following:
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) May 4, 2016
It was clear that Priebus had realized the futility of trying to Stump the Trump and conceded defeat, advising the rest of the Republican party to swallow their pride (and humanity) and accept Trump as the nominee. Acceptance, however, does not mean that they are happy with the situation. Many Republicans remain bitter that their candidate is Donald Trump, but are begrudgingly supporting him because they believe he would be a better president than any Democrat.
If the Republican party somehow does manage to rally behind Trump and help him defeat either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton come November, they face an even bigger quandary. Now that they successfully kept a Democrat from the Oval Office, what to do with President Trump? The man listens to neither reason nor money as he has no need for either, so it would be near impossible to influence him. Trump’s foreign and domestic policies are all over the place and lack much substance at the moment, which could potentially put him at odds with the people who actually know what they’re doing. Seeing as how we are still half a year away from election day, an eternity in political time, he will undoubtedly recruit more advisers and experts to feed him lines which will appease the establishment, albeit at the risk of alienating his base supporters. The ensuing dynamic between Senate Republicans (assuming they keep their majorities) and a President Trump would be quite interesting if not downright disastrous. But seeing as he’s not a Muslim Kenyan immigrant trying to steal America’s guns, I have a feeling they’ll be a little more receptive to him.