Donald Trump is a symptom of the GOP’s disease

Donald Trump hears a doorbell on TV.

Donald Trump hears a doorbell on TV.

Here’s a fun fact: the New York Times found that Donald Trump’s strongest supporters are “self-identified Republicans who are nonetheless registered as Democrats.” The’s bad news for the billionaire’s prospects in Iowa, where registered Republicans will participate in the nation’s first caucus a scant three weeks from now. Trump is crushing his opponents in national polls, but there is no national Republican primary. His path to the nomination goes through each state individually, and his organization lags behind his popularity. It’s possible that polls finding Trump is the Republican front-runner tells us less about the GOP’s future than its present.

And yet, whom do rank-and-file Republicans like better? The establishment wing of the party and the donors who support it have thrown their support behind a series of governors—Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush—voters just don’t like. Trump’s two closest competitors have flamed out (Ben Carson) or alienated their colleagues (Ted Cruz.) And all of them have proposed massive tax cuts for the very highest earners at the expense of those Americans who don’t make enough money to pay income tax—many of them the working-class, less-educated whites who compose Trump’s base.

What we have here is a split in the Republican Party. All the enthusiasm is on one side, and all the sense is on the other. Because he has never won an election in his life, Candidate Trump is less a disease afflicting the GOP than a symptom of its unhealthy division. He won’t be president, but he might be a warning. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

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