And there you have it, the day American politics changed forever: March 15th, 2016. Obviously i’ve been saying this for some time now, but did not know the exact date it would fall on. The Ides of March indeed!
It can be seen in the speeches made by the four remaining Republican candidates on this day, combined with some easy delegate math, and a bit of not-too-hard scrying. First, the speeches on the evening of this “Mini Super” Tuesday:
Rubio: Still the fidgety characteristics which killed him in the debates. Not sure why people in the early stages of this election cycle called him a master debater, but he… oh, OK, now i get it. Ooops. But any way, the stakes seemed too high for him, his flan is half-baked. In style, he kept missing lines and stumbling over expected applause lines. In substance, it was a glowing Shining City speech, and he dangled his resume out there, since he’s not running to keep his Senate seat this year. Prediction: he replaces Reince Priebus, and his seat goes blue.
Kasich: Humble plus defiant equals respect. Genuine and heartfelt, a good speech from someone who doesn’t miss his lines very much. Keeps the persona going, as a manager who can get the best out of people, and winning at home might just drag out some funding in a post-Marco field. Plus, he ripped his jacket open like he was going all Superman on us. He’s the guy everyone wants to win, and this somewhat rambling speech could just start the money faucet running. Rambling is not bad if it’s homespun, only if it’s nutty.
Cruz: One thing Rubio and Kasich did, was to place teenaged daughters in the camera frame. Instead, Cruz chose his Texas campaign manager. Oh boy, that was a mistake. The looks on that guy’s face face flashed so quickly between different shades of worry, and mind you this is the campaign director in a state where Cruz already won the primary. Out of the gate, Cruz said “Tonight was a good night.” His hometown guy should not be bugging out that bad, if it was good night. Yikes, he just lost 4 of the country’s 12 biggest states, and three of them are 21st-century battlegrounds.
The outward appearance of the speech is summed up by one thing: Cruz had more collar than neck. He has a way of bobbing his head like a turtle when he speaks, and his collar was already starched too high for his actual neck to reach it even when he was not hunched over. Combined with Cruz’s flawlessly soul-less delivery, this made Ted look like a Munster, though not sure which one. Lurch or Eddie maybe, but there’s some Fester in the cadence of his speeches.
The gist of Cruz’s speech was “Hey, I’m what you got left.” Was sad to hear him try to make Nancy roll over by stealing her husband’s “morning in America” line, and even sadder that he mentioned his endorsement by Senator Lee of Utah. Mike Lee is the only one. Cruz works with 99 other Senators, and he’s the last Senator in the race, but the other 98 are so disgusted by Cruz that they won’t touch him. Today, even the far-far right wingnut Senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe, endorsed Kasich. Yikes, Inhofe may be the only Senator further to the right of Cruz. If he’s going for the remaining moderate in the race, you know Ted’s co-workers despise him something terrible.
Trump: What else can it be but: terrific, really, terrific these people, and more great things, you know, greatest things, really ever, God bless you, Good night.
As things stand now, the primaries are over. Hillary has a 2-to-1 lead over Bernie with 49.9% of the races over, meaning that he’d have to beat her 67-to-33 in all the remaining Democratic primaries. Ain’t happening, so Hillary is our Blue candidate. But Bernie will go the distance. He’s having a ball, and sees his race now as a chance to give America its Socialism 101 lesson. The internet money keeps rolling in, so Sanders can keep jetting around the country, so he will.
It’s not about winning, it’s about the crusade for Bernie now. In his mind, he is now fulfilling his life’s pinnacle purpose: to re-introduce modern America to socialism, after 80 years in the doghouse. For the first time since the end of the Cold War it is now possible to separate socialism from communism in the minds of Americans, and Sanders wants to go down in history as the guy to do that. So he will.
On the Red side, about $200 million has been spent so far, and $180 million of that went down a rabbit hole (most recently the $20 million spent to deny Trump a win in Florida… where he won 66 of the 67 counties). With Rubio gone, the remaining non-Trumpers are STILL fracturing, some holding their noses and backing Cruz, and others plumping up Kasich’s bid for a brokered convention. Trump has a little over 50% of the delegates he needs to reign at the convention, with a little less than half of the primaries to go.
Trump is right on pace for 1237 delegates, as long as the opposition remains fractured, and it looks like it is. A couple meetings later this week, one in Florida and one in Washington DC, are planned to do an autopsy on that wasted $20 million and decide where the anti-Trumpers go from here. Rich donors are meeting in Florida and party “strategists” are meeting in the nation’s capital. The hilarious thing is that there are TWO meetings, virtually guaranteeing that the ensuing non-Trump efforts will be disconnected and, thus, both fail. Anything they decide (separately) will be too late for the round of primaries on Tuesday March 22nd, and judging by their ineffectiveness so far, will fail to tilt anything on the farther group of primaries on the following Saturday, March 26th.
It bears repeating that this is why i do not fear the rise of an oligarchy to power in the United States. Rhetoric from libertarians on the right and socialists on the left notwithstanding, the conspiracy theories almost never prove true. A basic fact of human nature ensures this: rich and powerful people are “type A” personalities, which makes them particularly unsuited to cooperate. This has turned the famous Citizens United decision by the highest court (allowing unlimited political donations) into a disaster for the Republicans. Various competing billionaires have carved up the right wing into political baronies by pouring unprecedented cash into GOP primaries. Predictable results.
Like i said, Trump is on a pace for the necessary 1237 delegates, since primaries in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York are all coming up. He will flatten Cruz here… in Trump’s own house, his front yard, his back yard and garage. Rubio was the best competition in Virginia, where Cruz wilted… and the Maryland and Delaware primaries are coming up soon too. That’s six more Trump wins, and the only remaining elephant, California, is unlikely to be Cruz Country. This state elected The Arnold, it will nominate The Donald.
The only possible unknown at this point (March 16th 2016), is how much Kasich can be inflated by endorsements and big money donors between now and June 7th (the California primary). If the Ohio governor can surge in April and May, then it’s possible that Trump will not have 1237 by the convention (and neither will anyone else).
But i’ll tell you what: if Trump gets to the Cleveland convention with 1225 pledged delegates and doesn’t get the nomination, then it’s completely curtains for the Republican Party. Trump takes his marbles and goes home, endorses Hillary, and she’ll get a Reagan-esque landslide, maybe as many as 240 in the Electoral College. The newly politicized Trump army will stay home, just like they always have in the 3 decades before Trump. Not only that, but they’ll be bitter about it. They are Trump’s marbles, not the GOP’s, and if he takes them out of play, they’ll stay out of play.
In this scenario, the Senate flips Blue, as blue as in 2008. And the House might still be in Republican hands in 2017, maybe not, but at best with a 5-seat Republican edge. Even if the House stays red, they will not be able to govern, so fractured that only legislation by acclamation will be possible. And a lot more people will be bitter about that too. Finally, the point will get through to the political middle that Republicans are incapable of governing as long as they’re wedded to the twin political fringes of social recidivism and fiscal rigidity.
On the other hand, if Trump does get the GOP nod, the entire political middle goes Democrat, turnout among minorities skyrockets (new registrations among Hispanics doubles their segment), and we have the same results as above: Clinton landslide and a blue Senate, though Republicans are less likely to hold the House, a House they still can’t do anything with if they did. In either case, the Republican Party is left in a shambles (at best), or splits into two parties (more likely). It gets even worse for them in 2020, but that’s an essay for another day.