I've simply run out of creative ways for describing this year's Presidential election. Unprecedented, inexplicable, shocking are a few adjectives that come to mind.
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around what I saw today. The Speaker of the US House of Representatives came out and said his likely Presidential nominee made a comment that was "textbook racism" but he went on to say that he would still support Donald Trump.
He was commenting on the backlash after Mr. Trump harshly criticised the federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against one of his businesses Trump University.
He said the judge couldn't be fair, saying "He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico."
The judge was born in America and even Mr. Trump's staunchest supporters were aghast and what they call a clearly racist statement that he repeated over and over again.
It seems to me the Republican race for the Presidential nomination has happened in distinct stages. First there was the Trump announcement where he called Mexicans rapists and murderers.
There was a long stretch where everyone (except the people who voted for Trump) assumed it was a joke and he would quickly fade away.
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He kept insulting entire groups of people and breaking all the rules of conventional politics. It didn't hurt him, but it seemed to help as he continued winning state contests.That became the stage of quiet disbelief among the GOP establishment.
Then the party elders tried to fight back. They tried to make the argument to their members that Trump was dangerous and a "conman." He kept winning and the other candidates dropped out. After that there were a few weeks of panic.
The party leaders started sounding a common refrain. The candidate will tone down his rhetoric, study the issues and bring in the heavy hitters that can work behind the scenes to launch a serious bid for the Presidency. With that belief the endorsements started rolling in.
The problem they have now is that none of those changes have happened. Mr.Trump basically said he wasn't going to change a thing. He says you don't change what is working. It is now becoming clear to the Party leaders that the candidate they've back will continue to insult the fastest growing voter block in the United States.
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If this keeps us and Mr. Trump doesn't make a full apology (which seems highly unlikely) their party could be tarnished beyond this election. They could lose the Hispanic vote for a generation if not more.
We are starting to see a new stage. The former Presidential candidate Marco Rubio had said he would speak for Mr. Trump at their convention, but he's changed his mind. The Republican Senator from Illinois Mark Kirk has just come out and said he won't vote for Trump. He put out a statement saying,
"It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons.
After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world."
Senator Lindsey Graham, another former Presidential hopeful, says he will not vote for Trump but instead plans to write in a name. If you are wondering what the calculus is behind these moves it is actually quite simple.
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As Mr. Trump piled up votes and drew huge audiences, politicians started to worry that if they didn't back him, they would lose their seats. As Mr. Trump has continued his campaign of insults and division, the math has changed for some.
They are now starting to think that supporting Trump is more dangerous to their self-preservation than opposing him.
That brings me to the current stage and that can be summed up as what's next. Expect to start seeing a lot of media leaks and carefully placed stories about stripping Trump of the nomination at the convention. It can be done.
I have no doubt that right now in the halls of power they are desperately trying to figure out who they can put up instead. For many it was inconceivable that they would risk the ire of Trump's supporters by pulling off a kind of coup.
If Mr. Trump continues on this path they might start to think it is worth the risk.
One prominent officials just sent out the message that the Trump campaign has just a few weeks to turn this around. They didn't say "or else" but I promise you powerful people are trying to find what the "or else" looks like right now.
Source: Al Jazeera