Judging by his recent endorsement of Cruz, Sen. Graham prefers arsenic. Jeb Bush, another establishment candidate crushed by the Trump bulldozer, also just reluctantly endorsed Cruz, explaining that the Texas senator is the only one who can possibly “overcome” Trump.
As Trump marches towards his seemingly inevitable nomination, the biggest question isn’t how the GOP power-brokers can stop him. It’s why they would want to.
Far from destroying the GOP, Trump could save it by attracting disaffected working-class voters who are sick of D.C.’s incompetent pseudo-elitists. Our broken political system desperately needs disruptive reforms that will improve everyday Americans’ lives. Trump, who has already disrupted a corrosive political status quo, is independent enough to kill the special interests’ sacred cows and make government function again.
Virtually every sector of the economy has experienced private-sector disruption that, in the end, benefits ordinary Americans. Uber has demolished the taxi industry and made transportation simple, flexible, and cheap in cities. Airbnb is delivering similar benefits for tourists and vacationers who formerly overpaid for hotels. Amazon’s advances in logistics and same-day delivery have revolutionized shopping.
Meanwhile, the Washington bureaucracy is still running on floppy disks. Interest groups fight tooth-and-nail to hold onto concessions they’ve been granted, from tax credits for solar panels to subsidies for ethanol. They try to limit any innovation or disruption that would threaten their entrenched positions. The status quo that — at best — dwells in a muck of mediocrity always prevails.
This political and economic system is failing most Americans.
Income inequality poses a structural threat to the economy, and the manufacturing sector has been gutted. Yet most GOP candidates mindlessly recite a 30-year old prescription of debt-financed tax cuts and free trade deals, which — despite other benefits — would exacerbate both problems.
Meanwhile, the left’s rote response to every policy challenge is more money. Consider public education. Our schools are in shambles. Would liberals be willing to curb the power of teachers unions and introduce performance-based incentives to boost the quality of educators? Fat chance.
Regular Americans are sick of this pandering to special interests. “We’re voting with our middle finger,” is how one Trump supporter summarizes voters’ disgust with traditional politicians and the status quo. As difficult as it is to stomach Trump, the efficacy of his inadvertent anti-establishment movement is hard to challenge.
Policy makers’ insistence on political correctness only worsens the dysfunction. Potential solutions are taken off the table if they raise uncomfortable truths.
Enter Trump. In classic street entrepreneur fashion, he identified an inefficient market: an incompetent bureaucracy; and sclerotic competitors: super-PAC dependent politicians who will say anything but the truth.
Trump has blown up politics-as-usual. A sultan of the reality-show anti-intellectual soundbite, Trump generates so much free publicity he doesn’t need to raise tens of millions for advertising. His admittedly vicious, petty, over-the-top attacks and counter-punches have largely shielded his own record from scrutiny and laid low candidates who billed themselves as tough leaders able to take on America’s enemies.
He delivers his brilliantly simple sales pitch — “throw the bums out and let me make America great again” — in the same straightforward language voters use themselves, without backing himself into a corner with specific policy recommendations.
In that same fashion, his promises to shed the ideologues and run his administration like a business — put “the best people” in power and negotiate “great deals” — are deeply appealing to a society in which two in three people have confidence in small business but only 8 percent approve of Congress.
Of course, Trump doesn’t have all the answers, and merely running the government like a business won’t solve all our problems, especially the national debt. Without serious and painful reforms, ballooning entitlement programs will bankrupt the United States. That’s not a Republican fact or a Democrat fact. It’s a math fact — one Trump has yet to publically acknowledge.
But at least Trump has given a voice to the millions of Americans who believe that the status quo is broken and that the system needs overhauling, not tweaking. His version of disruptive populism appears to engage the angry, frustrated masses.
The American people deserve a government that operates with 21st-century efficiency. With Trump’s huge victories across a diverse range of states, it looks increasingly likely voters may be inclined to give him a chance to build the type of an administration he claims to envision.
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South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham, a virtual spokesman for the Republican establishment, once contended that choosing between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump was akin to deciding whether to be poisoned or shot. Judging by his recent endorsement of Cruz, Sen. Graham prefers arsenic.
Commentary by Yuri Vanetik and Thomas Tucker. Yuri Vanetik is a Lincoln fellow at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank, and serves on the national boards of Gen Next and the Gen Next Foundation, nonprofits that work to expand educational, economical, and global security opportunities. Thomas Tucker is a cofounder of The New Majority California, a political action committee that promotes fiscal responsibility. Follow them on Twitter @yurivanetik and @NewMajorityCA.