The New York Daily News, which has been one of the most shamelessly anti-Trump media outlets in the country, concluded Wednesday that their hometown villain had successfully destroyed one of the nation’s two mainstream political parties. With his win in Indiana, Donald Trump forced his last viable challenger out of the race and became – according to RNC Chair Reince Priebus – the “presumptive nominee.” And according to the Daily News, that’s all she wrote for the Republican Party.
In a front-page story, the paper laid the GOP to rest in a coffin.
“Trump absolutely did more than take out Low-Energy Jeb and Little Marco and even Chris Christie, who ended up working as a bouncer in Trump’s campaign,” they wrote. “What Donald Trump really did was take out the Republican Party.”
Unsurprisingly, they aren’t the only ones who are trumpeting this narrative. And in one sense, they are right. Whatever else might be said, no one can seriously argue that this turned out the way the Republican Party would have liked. They tried everything to stop the rogue billionaire from becoming the nominee, and he cut them off at every pass. It’s not just that Americans have never seen someone like Trump in their lifetimes; it’s possible that we’re witnessing a political phenomenon that has no parallel in American history.
Over the coming weeks, months, and years, you’re going to hear a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking as the pundits and political operatives try to figure out what happened. But many of them are going to miss the most obvious of points: Donald Trump did not ignite this movement; he merely took advantage of it.
That’s not to say that Trump was irrelevant or that he could have been swapped out for anyone with a comparable message. The way he sucked all of the air out of the room with his unprecedented manipulation of the media will be studied and psychoanalyzed for decades. If he is half as good at being president as he was at winning the nomination, he really will make America great again.
But if the Republican Party is “dead,” it was already on life support by the time Trump cruised down that escalator last summer. The amount of disgust among conservatives for the thought of nominee Jeb Bush was overwhelming, even before Trump had thrown his hat into the ring. Remember, this was only months after conservatives celebrated a triumphant mid-term election in which Republicans strengthened their majority in the House and regained control of the Senate.
But it was also only months after President Obama issued his executive amnesty, enraging millions of voters who were left wondering: what happened to all of the promises? Meanwhile, the man expected to go up against Hillary Clinton was on record saying that illegal immigration was an “act of love.” Trump or no Trump, Jeb – and anyone else following the “autopsy” recommendations coming out of Romney’s 2012 defeat – didn’t stand a chance.
So sure, have a funeral for the GOP if you like, but don’t prosecute Trump for the murder. The voters are responsible for this one, and that’s cause for celebration, not scorn.