GOP rhetoric created a Trump-sized vacuum

Why Donald Trump? Why now?

Because for the last few decades, the Republican Party has preached a consistent message about the utter incompetence of the federal government, the alleged undermining of traditional white Christian values and the concept that the country is being stolen from those to whom it naturally belongs. By doing so, it has succeeded in creating a widespread sense of crisis among its base.

But then what? Once you’ve convinced good, patriotic Americans that the very foundations of our nation are about to crumble, then you’ve also convinced them that something dramatic must be done about it, and now. To cite just one example, if you’ve convinced your electorate that ObamaCare poses the greatest threat to American freedom since Joe Stalin walked the Earth, then surely you are obligated to use every weapon in your arsenal to undo it as quickly as possible, right?

Well, no. As Sen. John Thune recently explained the Senate Republican position on repealing Obamacare, “I don’t know if there’s any particular rush to doing it. You know that’s an issue that’s going to be around for a while. It’s not going away.” So … maybe next year, when the election is closer and the GOP can wring some additional political advantage out of it.

If I were a Republican, and if I honestly believed the things that the Republican Party has asked me to believe, then I too would be angered and frustrated at that kind of reaction, and I too would be looking elsewhere for leadership.

As Trump continues to dominate the scene, it’s fascinating to watch longtime, stalwart conservatives try come to grips with it. Trump has pushed them to the edge of the abyss, and they are looking down into that abyss and are terrified by it.

Ben Domenech, writing at The Federalist, warns that the GOP is now at a dangerous tipping point away from a supposed "freedom" agenda to something much darker. "What Trump represents is the potential for a significant shift in the Republican Party toward white identity politics," he concludes, as if that light just now went off in his head. Charles Krauthammer writes that despite its popularity with the base, Trump's immigration policy "would all be merely ridiculous if it weren't morally obscene." And you can almost smell the panic from longtime GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, who warns that Trump's campaign "must now be taken seriously by a stunned Republican establishment," pointing out that "desperate people do desperate things … and the American people despair their country is failing."

But that’s the thing. Their country — our country — is not failing. We’ve been told it is failing by those invested in that failure, but it is not. Likewise, our government is not some foreign occupying power, nor is it our enemy. Our economy remains the envy of the world. The challenges that we face, while significant, are no more intimidating than those faced by previous generations.

However, if you’ve built an entire political movement around the notion that we face a dramatic threat, but you are unwilling to take dramatic action to fix it, then you’ve basically created the conditions for somebody to muscle into your little con game and hijack it for his own entertainment.

That’s why Donald Trump.