Horse and Rider

Who’s the horse and who’s the rider?

As the spectacle of Donald Trump continues, as we come to grips with the hitherto unthinkable possibility that he might actually ride a simmering stew of fear, rage and hate to the nomination, political observers are speculating about possible reactions and consequences.

At Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed Brayton looks back at other candidates who have caused heartburn—from Barry Goldwater to David Duke—and quotes Jeff Greenfield for a surprising prediction:

With Trump as its standard-bearer, the GOP would suddenly be asked to rally around a candidate who has been called by his once and former primary foes “a cancer on conservatism,” “unhinged,” “a drunk driver … helping the enemy.” A prominent conservative national security expert, Max Boot, has flatly labeled him “a fascist.” And the rhetoric is even stronger in private conversations I’ve had recently with Republicans of moderate and conservative stripes.

This is not the usual rhetoric of intraparty battles, the kind of thing that gets resolved in handshakes under the convention banners. These are stake-in-the-ground positions, strongly suggesting that a Trump nomination would create a fissure within the party as deep and indivisible as any in American political history, driven both by ideology and by questions of personal character.

Indeed, it would be a fissure so deep that, if the operatives I talked with are right, Trump running as a Republican could well face a third-party run—from the Republicans themselves.

Greenfield’s entire column, linked by Brayton, is worth reading and pondering. But even more thought-provoking is Brayton’s “take” on Greenfield’s analysis and the current deep divisions within the GOP:

As much as some on the left like to think of the enemy as a single monolith, there are very deep divisions within the GOP. If you don’t believe that, ask John Boehner. I’ve been writing about this since 2010, when the Republican party made the fateful decision to try to ride the Tea Party horse into power. It worked then, allowing them to take over the House and most state legislatures and governerships.

But as I said at the time, this was not a horse that they could break and they quickly realized that when they lost control of their own caucus in the House to extremists who view any compromise as a literal betrayal. This is what spawned the likes of Ted Cruz, and it’s the kind of temperament that Trump is giving voice to. There is a war within the GOP that at some point has to open up into open warfare, as it has for both parties at various times in the past. And Trump could either declare the war himself or have it declared upon him.

This is the sort of scenario that gives new meaning to the old admonition: be careful what you wish for.

And before you saddle up that horse, be sure you can ride it….


  1. Or they could back up 1/2 a notch and go with Cruz. Equally crazy but presents just a bit better. That might be even more of a danger. At least trump is totally transparent.

  2. And yet…Trump is in second place on the Most Admired list, tied with Pope Francis.

    He is not the rider, nor is he the horse…he is the horse’s ass! And this county should hang it’s collective head in shame; or investigate to see if he paid for that spot. If this doesn’t scare the manure out of voters we will see him and his stripper 4th wife in the White House on January 20, 2016.

  3. I can think of nothing scarier than ANY of the Republican candidates for president getting elected along with a Republican Congress. The idea of the party of “do nothing” having the power to do what they wanted is as frightening as it gets.

  4. I am just waiting for that final death blow to Trump’s candidacy. What’s it’s going to be? Bets are on the table.

    I wonder what Boehner is up to these days.

  5. No matter how dispicable Trump gets, his supporters back him even more loudly. Reasonable Republicans should be out in large numbers trying to save their party from the crazies that are gaining power. I am equally scared of a Cruz nomination and Rubio comes in as number 3 of those that scare me.

    I read an article a few days ago about John Kasich wanting to fix the gerrymandering that literally gave his party’s crazies the power that they have. He realizes that cutting up counties and communities just to gain power has caused extreme damage to our entire country. Unfortunately, it will be very difficult to get those in power to vote themselves out of power by fixing this gerrymandering issue.

    I fear that we are in for many more years of upheaval and pain that could potentially allow another country to become the most powerful in the world.

  6. Even though the Republican party as a whole doesn’t have any candidates that they truly want in power, they will choose any of them over an intelligent and reasonable Democrat. At least their plutocrats might be able to use their monetary power to control a Republican President like he is a puppet . They know they cannot control Donald Trump with their money and that really scares them.

  7. Let us not forget that the Electoral College will play a decisive role. We need to regain some modicum of control by stemming the tide of this disaster. I mean can you imagine Mike Pence or the like influencing the election of the President of the United States thereby succeeding in wrecking our already struggling system? Indiana, what are you getting for your loyalty? Think about it. What to do about it? Americans, do not give up your one and only power by giving your single vote to someone else by failing to cast it yourself.

  8. Dire warning time! Everybody talks about how fractured the Republican Party is, but don’t forget that they control most of the statehouses and governorships in this country. If they can’t win the Presidency with things as they are, they are in a position to change how things are. Remember the states themselves determine the makeup of their electoral college delegation. Maybe it’s time for one man one vote for President, a contentious, but necessary constitutional amendment.


    Be grateful for Trump. I see him as Santa Claus and Hitler all wrapped into one. As Patmcc said “at least Trump is transparent.”

    Trump is bringing things to a head way too early, much more than the Bush Mafia ever planned. Now Jeb is out. That’s a good start.

    Trump is much like a long distance runner who takes the pack out real early. He’ll probably run out of steam. Maybe not. But Cruz is much more dangerous. This is especially so, if this “political nightmare” turns out to be a relay and Cruz is handed the baton from Trump. Cruz is an expert at playing the “Jesus card.”

    Don’t forget 60% of the Christians in Germany voted to be Nazified. Like in Nazi Germany, the other 40% will have to make a choice. From my long observation of this phenomenon, I’m sorry to predict AT THIS MOMENT that MOST BUT NOT ALL of the other 40% will follow as they did in Nazi Germany. They joined their Christian brothers and sisters who were marching toward a national catastrophe.

    “Who wants to mess up the family reunion? By the way, why don’t we invite some of our Black Christian friends to join us? Let’s don’t forget the Communists finally marched step and step with us.”

    I’m getting pretty old, but wasn’t it Yogi Berra who said “It isn’t over until it’s over.” It’s a long ways from being over. That’s for sure.

  10. I have never been equipped to translate Hitler’s slobbering rhetoric but in my mind he said largely what Trump’s saying and certainly in the way that Trump does. For most of my life I believed that America is not so stupid as to fall for that act but then again Germans then weren’t either.

    So anything’s possible.

    Since we don’t know for sure we have to act like it is.

    Any reasonable Republican would not vote fascist though most have been so thoroughly indoctrinated that they might not be able to vote for Hillary or Bernie either.

    So the question remains: will GOP leadership fall on the grenade or hope that rank and file does by at least staying home election day?

    We don’t know that either.

    Another question. How should the Democrat Party handle this disaster? Should they adopt the tactics that the GOP has lowered themselves to hoping that Democrats are as gullible as Republicans or take the high road? There’s evidence that that decision has already been made in favor of the high road.

    So the process is unfolding. I personally hope that the GOP will figure out a way to avoid Trumpacide but I’m afraid the only practical alternative is Cruz. Equally threatening to our future but more palatable to the world.

    While Trump would likely move our problem border immediately to the north, Cruz might cause a more wait and see attitude, then the big migration.

    Our only real alternative is to override Republican efforts to keep Democrats from being able to vote and use every trick in the book to get every clear minded Anerican to the polls.

    We have to go home with who brought us to the dance, Democracy.

  11. I don’t understand how any of this can possibly be a surprise to the Republican party. They’ve made hate and fear major party platforms for decades. Bush won his reelection in 2004 on anti-gay marriage sentiment. But the problem for the Republicans is that despite running campaigns based on hate and fear, they haven’t actually delivered what their base wants them to deliver.

    Now Trump comes along and seems like he might actually do it–that he might actually go on the offensive after immigrants, refugees, minorities, and the poor. And the Republicans are surprised that this appeals to the base they’ve been fostering? After working so hard to build and sustain a fundamentally sick support base, how can they be remotely surprised that this base is now baying for blood?

    The problem for Republicans is that they’ve been promising a Donald Trump for years, and now their base wants them to deliver.

  12. JoAnn: I surely hope that the horse’s a** and his stripper 4th wife don’t ride onto the lawn of the White House on January 20, 2016. That’s less than a month away. Eeeek! Even a year from that date, 2017, would be plenty bad enough. As it stands, Americans, be they Democrat or Republican, still have time to come to their senses. Trouble is, we’re all preaching to the choir here. The teeming masses of Republican lemmings are out there following the circus peanut (wearing a badger) right over the proverbial cliff. This is one election in which we’d better show up at the polls and vote.

  13. Pete,

    “We have to go home with who brought us to the dance, Democracy.”

    I think we forget sometimes that there are two different forms of democracy: procedural and social. At one time, the status quo successfully articulated both. So does our Bill of Rights.

    Adolph Hitler came into power under procedural democracy. Social democracy by then was dead. Back in 1993, my long-time companion and I published “Democracide: The Far Right’s Path to Power.” At that time, we were both concerned about social democracy not procedural.

    Unfortunately, our prediction about social democracy appears to have been warranted. An important factor behind the growing civil unrest we are observing in the African-American community is that a civil rights movement is dead without social democracy. And they know it.

  14. Frightening commentary today. I just finished reading “Winter In the World” (Follett). His and others’ depiction of the rise of Hitler in Germany with the complicit support of Christians and the economic disruptions following WWI make me very fearful of the same occurring in our own country. The reality is that economic inequality is just as much, if not more, of a threat than any other driver of the divided populace. When you add racism and theocracy into the mix, you have a deadly cocktail.

  15. I see Goodwin’s Law has been affirmed here. From Wiki – Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Nazi analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

    Trump is no Hitler and his Trumpter followers are not Brown Shirts. America today is not the Germany of the 1920’s or 1930’s. Germany had suffered around 1,750,000 dead, or missing in WW 1. Add in the Treaty of Versailles and the Depression and the result was the political anarchy of Communists, Socialists and other parties battling in the streets.

    I have noticed the reverse side of the coin. As Bernie Sanders supporter I have noticed a strong up tick in the number of people referring to Sanders as a Communist.

  16. JD, I especially agree with your comment. During a period of political transformation as documented during Germany’s era of Weimar government, there’s a marked breeding ground for totalitarianism among the middle classes who feel overlooked, ignored, and unsupported by a perceived weak leadership.

  17. Certainly Louie you are right about the comparison of now in America with Germany then.

    The fact that it is not perfectly analogous though doesn’t preclude certain learnings from comparing the two eras.

    Hitler and Goerring were masters at crowd manipulation as was Churchill. All built cultures useful to their ends using the power of words, delivery and setting.

    We could compare Trump to Churchill but that would miss the mark by a mile in terms of tone and message.

    Both England and Germany got what their leaders wanted: Germany, conquest and England, toughness.

    What does Trump want for America? Aristocracy, just look at his land and air Versailles.

    Not conquest exactly but related.

  18. One other interesting point Louie. I was brought up following the McCarthy era where Communist was synonymous with evil. Of course that was following the Stalin era where evil had been redefined to monstrous proportions. It was not an era of sophisticated analysis but knee jerk culture. The kind of black and whiteness many people who hate thinking would like to return to.

    So they call Bernie a Communist because he’s not as Republican as Eisenhower was (although those who escaped our past with analytics still in place could point out many political similarities).

    Communist knee jerking people are unreachable. However those who know what socialism really is and how much we have always relied on it here, I don’t think will shy away from Bernie.

  19. Louie,

    In all due respects, I don’t believe this is about Godwin’s law.

    It’s about transparency which Trump has provided. He didn’t create his army. It’s been actively mobilized under the guise of religion for over 45 years. And the one thing it definitely has in common with Nazi Germany is anti-Semitism which is now being rapidly mutating toward other ethnic minorities.

  20. Perhaps (as I have blogged as fantasy) President Trump will import his buddy Putin to serve as his chief of staff. Knowing Trump’s predilection for the outrageous, I now worry that what I wrote as fantasy could become reality, since Trump will do most anything outrageous to satisfy his monstrous ego and desire to do the different. Even the worst president we have ever had (to date), George Bush the Younger, was more qualified than this show-off buffoon for the Oval Office. Cruz is as bad or worse and will shut the government down at the drop of an ideological hat. Rubio has sticky fingers when it comes to discriminating between personal and campaign funds. The rest of the candidates, including Jeb, the preacher and the CEO are going nowhere. Can anyone reading this imagine a know-nothing President Trump in a dialogue with Merkel, a PhD, in re the intricacies of intra-EU relationships, for instance. Trump is a realtor who bullied his way into command of wealth. He possesses neither an understanding of history nor the temperament to occupy the Oval Office. Republicans should send him back to where he came from to his golf courses and casinos before they as a party implode and suffer the same fate as the failed party of the Whigs, from whose ashes their party arose. His candidacy is a joke, but one that is not funny anymore. No “big tent” is big enough to contain this candidate who gives us slander and insult instead of a sober analysis and proposed solutions of the country’s problems. The larger question, of course, is whether the Republicans would risk a descent into Whigdom in order not to offend this domestic political terrorist. Their call.

  21. The following is from “The New York Times” back on June 22, 2015. It concerns a controversial statement President Obama made a few days after nine black parishioners were killed during bible study in a South Carolina church:

    “For part of the hour long conversation with Mr. Maron, the nation’s first black president patiently explained that race relations had improved in his lifetime. But in acknowledging that racism is still deeply embedded in the United States as a “part of our DNA,” Mr. Obama turned to a racially charged word. ”

    He’s talking about the DNA of our socio/political culture. It lies at the deepest level of our culture. It effects how we interrelate with our fellow man and woman. It’s been altered by human hands.

    To understand what is happening to us, I would suggest purchasing a copy of the DVD: “The Killer Shrews” or at least googling it on Wikipedia. The research assistant who mistakenly altered the DNA in the movie, Gordon McLendon, is the same person who has altered the DNA in our socio/political culture here in the U.S..

    I’ve mentioned McLendon several times in the past few months. I was his corporate General Counsel. The movie was made at Cielo Studios in he middle of Lake Dallas. McLendon owned Cielo Studios. McLendon was the founder of the CIA alumni Club as well as the first person Jack Ruby asked for after assassinating Lee Harvey Oswald.

    The movie was made in 1959. It was a projection of what he would later carry out 10 years later: altering the DNA of our socio/political culture. He had the political clout to do it.

    McLendon killed himself in the late 80’s. He wasn’t sane. His legacy is the political insanity we are all now witnessing.

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