Donald Trumpâ€™s electoral rampage through the Northeastern states and then his stunning Indiana victory â€“ taking all but five counties statewide and walking away with 57 delegates – did a lot more than drive Ted Cruz and John Kasich out of the race.
It has driven a stake in the heart of the post-1988 Republican Party. Itâ€™s dead.
The â€œprofessionalâ€ party has been in death throes for years, for a variety of reasons, but none as lethal as the absence of a defining and unifying rationale for its existence that resonated with its own membership.
What does the Party stand for? And who decides that?
No sooner had The Donald driven his rivals from the field of battle, than the self-appointed guardians of â€œconservatism,â€ already in panic mode, began pouring out opinions, curses, and threats â€“ all somewhat hysterically.
If only they could find the same passion about the most destructive force America has ever known; Barack Obama.
Columnists George Will and Charles Krauthammer launched scathing articles explaining their â€œnever Trumpâ€ positions as the last defense of â€œconservatism,â€ joined by the house pets in the big newspapers. Theyâ€™ve been followed by others trash-talking Trump and talking about â€œreal conservatives,â€ and what they should or shouldnâ€™t do. These include conservative media outlets such as Red State, National Review and Conservative Review.
The Weekly Standardâ€™s William Kristol is evidently the self-appointed leader of an effort to mount a third party challenge to Trump intoning the name of Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska as its possible standard bearer, who for his part has also said he canâ€™t support the Party nominee because he has to save â€œconservatism.â€
The Bushes have let it be known that they arenâ€™t endorsing anyone. Ditto the Koch brothers. Romney, who famously claimed to be â€œseriously conservative,â€ wonâ€™t be at the convention. After all, what do any of them owe to the Party that supported and defended them with sweat and money?
On Capitol Hill, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, oblivious to the primary results evidently, said today that â€œhe is not ready to endorse Trump,â€ adding that, â€œI think conservatives want to know, does [Trump] share our values and our principles.â€
Speaker Ryan had previously laid claim to the speakership for all conservatives and the right to define â€œconservative,â€ by rebuking Trumpâ€™s call for a temporary ban on Muslimâ€™s entering the country until the U.S. government could properly identify them, this following the San Bernardino terrorist attack. â€œThis is not conservatism,â€ Ryan thumped. â€What [Trump proposed] is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, itâ€™s not what this country stands for.â€
All I can say is, what are these people talking about?
Arenâ€™t these the same people by and large who sat back in the Bush years and supported vastly expanded government spending, and helped turn education over to the federal government? To say nothing of two wars that were not concluded victoriously, but shackled by rules of engagement and petty infighting.
Is any of that conservative?
Arenâ€™t these the same folks who laid down in front of Obama like they were flower petals tossed at a wedding?
When the Supreme Court overturned 5,000 years of tradition werenâ€™t these by and large the same people who told us to suck it up and live with it? Is that conservative?
A lot of them, like Sen. Sasse, talk about the Constitution a lot. Thatâ€™s nice. Hereâ€™s a few questions: Where were they in the last eight years as an American President dared them to impeach him, ignored separation of powers, laws, funded unlawful programs, forced the BATF to run guns and the IRS to harass conservative groups, abandoned four Americans in Benghazi, and gave Iran $150 billion dollars by confirming that the treaty with Iran wasnâ€™t really a treaty at all?
Any of that conservative?
What the â€œprofessionalâ€ Party has been good at is subjecting their frustrated members out in the real world to lectures claiming that unregulated, wide open immigration is conservative, and that illegal entry into the U.S. should be rewarded with citizenship because it is a conservative value. Weâ€™re told that a conservative believes in the â€œwilling workerâ€ model; that any person in the world has a right to come into the U.S. on a visa to compete with any American citizen for any job at any wage.
The professionals have also been good at pushing â€œfree tradeâ€ like it was cotton candy at a childâ€™s birthday party. It is now the sacred mantra of being a conservative â€“ â€œfree trade!â€
I want free trade; the empirical evidence of the benefits of free trade are well established economic facts. There is no doubt about that.
But the truth is that, starting with NAFTA, we have learned that we have been snookered. These arenâ€™t free trade agreements defined as two or more countries deciding to treat each others products and services reciprocally; instead, it is managed corporate trade. We allow many countries to ship goods into the U.S. with little to no tax, while American goods are subjected to a withering variety of consumption and other taxes hidden in the host economy, currency manipulation, and are hobbled with rules and regulations that no domestic company must comply with. The end result it that millions of jobs and untold wealth have left the U.S. for someone elseâ€™s benefit.
Empty factories stand like tombstones to a disappearing self-determination; while several â€œconservativeâ€ prognosticators claim that the towns and the American citizens those factories supported deserve to â€œdie.â€ Literally.
So, many of us are scratching our heads and asking, â€œWhat the hell is â€œconservativeâ€ about uncontrolled immigration and corporate trade pacts?â€
Sometimes it take massive pain to bring us â€“ individually or corporately – to the end of our resources and allow us to realistically reevaluate our destination. I believe that is where the larger â€œconservativeâ€ movement is now.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Donald Trump is the spark that will allow the grassroots to bury the dead â€œprofessionalâ€ Republican Party, and to rebirth a conservative Republican Party that has clear principles that honor our past and make a way for our future.