Donald Trump Is Wrecking the Conservative Movement: How the Billionaire Is Exposing Its Most Toxic Secret

Conservative activists have spent a generation building up their movement — and the Donald is ruining it all.

Source: Alternet

Author:Heather Digby Parton/Salon

Emphasis Mine

If there’s one thing that Donald Trump has done for the leaders of the conservative movement, the Christian Right and the Republican party it’s that he’s teaching them a necessary lesson in reality: It turns out that a large number of their supporters don’t really care about ideology, morality or even their supposedly mutual loathing of the hippie Democrats on the other side. Their concerns run to something much more primitive.

Sure they all called themselves Republicans and/or conservatives. For decades they played on the same team. But all that stuff about “family values” and “drowning the government in the bathtub” and “constitutional conservativism” were just slogans they chanted for their team. They meant no more to them than “rah, rah, sis boom bah.”

National Review slowly came around to the knowledge that something terrible had happened to their movement and last week put out their ineffectual “Against Trump” issue. They realized too late that all the movement propaganda meant nothing to a whole lot of right wing voters. In fact it looks as though the constitution itself means nothing. And the conservative movement of activists, writers and grassroots organizations has suddenly awakened to the fact that a good many of those they considered true believers are completely oblivious to conservative ideology.

Poor social conservative and movement warrior Ted Cruz is finally recognizing that his fealty to the cause was a sucker move. It bought him the enduring enmity of the party electeds and too many of the movement conservatives just don’t care about any of that. That’s not to say he isn’t trying to rally the faithful. The Christian Broadcast Network’s John Brody aired some footage of Cruz desperately begging Iowa pastors to do everything they can to stop Trump:

“[I]f Donald wins Iowa, he right now has a substantial lead in New Hampshire, if he went on to win New Hampshire as well, there is a very good chance he could be unstoppable and be our nominee. And the next seven days in Iowa will determine whether or not that happens. So even if you’re thinking about another candidate, the simple reality is there’s only one campaign that can beat Trump in this state, and if conservatives simply stand up and unite, that’s everything.”

You can’t help but wonder if he regrets all those months of “bear-hugging” Trump now. In fact, it makes you wonder if the whole field regrets not unleashing hell on him from the very beginning. They couldn’t possibly be any worse off than they are now.

But as sad as Cruz may have been when he started the day yesterday, realizing that he’d devoted himself to a conservative movement that turns out to be an empty shell, imagine how he felt when Jerry Falwell Jr endorsed the libertine billionaire later in the morning. Falwell might as well have looked into Cruz’s face and laughed at his gullibility. All these years Cruz believed that following the Evangelical Christian code of conduct was a requirement and the man who inherited the legacy of the Moral Majority supplicated himself to a degenerate billionaire who says it’s never been necessary to ask God for forgiveness.

Sarah Posner wrote about this strange course of events for Rolling Stone yesterday:

For Falwell, Trump is a strongman who can save America where the Christian right has failed to do so. Falwell’s endorsement is a tacit admission that his father’s mission to rescue America from the supposed scourges of feminism, the “homosexual agenda” and secularism is now a defunct fundamentalist dream…

Trump has other qualities that many evangelicals admit they admire: wealth and success and — don’t let this surprise you — ruthlessness. Trump first addressed a Liberty University audience in September 2012, after his failed presidential bid. In his remarks, he suggested to students that they need to “get even” with adversaries in order to succeed, prompting

an outcry over whether this advice was compatible with Christian values.

At the time, Trump’s special counsel, Michael Cohen — without pushback from Liberty — told ABC News that he conferred with a Liberty official, who confirmed, in Cohen’s words, that “the Bible is filled with stories of God getting even with his enemies, Jesus got even with the Pharisees and Christians believe that Jesus even got even with Satan by rising from the dead. God is portrayed as giving grace, but he is also portrayed as one tough character — just as Trump stated.”

Falwell later told a Christian radio program that he took Trump’s advice to mean that often succeeding in life requires “being tough.”

See? No need for all that weak tea about the meek and the poor. And surely when it comes to their driving obsession with sexual morality and abortion, it just takes a real man to put his foot down. And it’s clear who is the Real Man in this campaign. Donald Trump is an Old Testament leader for a New Testament world.

According to this poll, evangelicals are flocking to Trump.

Perhaps the most puzzled by what they’re seeing is the conservative movement old guard who spent decades creating the organizations that in recent years have risen up to challenge the Republican elites for supremacy of the party. They have made great strides, primarying apostates, defeating RINOs and even taking out good conservatives just to show they could. They showed the entire country that they are willing to destroy the government itself if that’s what it takes to demonstrate their commitment to their principles. They take no prisoners, give no quarter. And finally, after decades of hard work and strategizing, they are on the verge of total dominance.

Or they were until Trump came along and proved that many of the people they had been counting on to be the foot soldiers in this conservative revolution weren’t paying attention. In fact, they don’t even care that their new strongman leader openly says things like this:

“I’m going to be able to get along with Pelosi — I’ve always had a good relationship with Nancy Pelosi,” Trump said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” referring to the House minority leader. “Reid’s going to be gone. I’ve always had a decent relationship with Reid,” Trump said, referring to Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate minority leader. “I always had a great relationship with Harry Reid.”

Trump said he thought he’d get along with “just about everybody,” including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), likely to be the next Senate Democratic leader, who Trump said he was “close to … in many in ways.”

“I’ve been in politics all my life, I’ve been dealing with politicians all my life,” Trump said of whether he would have any friends in Congress.

The man who has made a fetish of being politically incorrect reassured his ardent fans at a rally this week that it was all an act:

When I’m president I’m a different person. I can do anything. I can be the most politically correct person you have ever seen,” Trump said at a rally in Pella, Iowa, on Saturday.

In what began as a typical Trump speech, the presidential candidate — who made headlines in December for saying he would ban Muslims from entering the US — said the reason for his tough rhetoric is twofold.

First, political correctness takes too long and “we don’t have time,” and second, with such a full slate of Republican candidates, Trump says he needs to be aggressive. “Right now they come at you from 15 different angles. You have to be sharp, you have to be quick, and you have to be somewhat vicious,” Trump said.

“When you are running the country it is a different dialogue that goes, and we can do that easily.”

(He seems to believe that he has experience at doing this, perhaps in a dream.)

The Republican establishment is under a tremendous amount of stress right now. Donald Trump has the party functionaries running around like his personal factotums and the elected officials are all figuring out the angles to ensure they come out on the Donald’s good side. It’s possible it may not survive in the form we’ve come to know it.

But the conservative movement is equally under pressure.  They thought their years of carefully growing and indoctrinating the right wing of the Republican Party had resulted in a common belief in a certain conservative ideology, strategic vision and commitment to a specific agenda.  It turns out that a good number of the people they thought had signed on to their program just wanted someone to stick it to ethnic and racial minorities and make sure America is the biggest bad ass on the planet — authoritarian, white nationalism. If you’ve got a man who will deliver that you don’t need ideology. And he doesn’t need democracy.

The mystery is why all these smart conservatives didn’t see this coming. They unleashed this beast a long time ago with the hate radio and the media propaganda and the ruthless politics. It was only a matter of time before it turned on them.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/donald-trump-wrecking-conservative-movement-how-billionaire-exposing-its-most?akid=13923.123424.Md0AhW&rd=1&src=newsletter1049730&t=4

GOP Establishment in Freak-Out Mode: They Can’t Stop Trump or Cruz From Grabbing Nomination

“The party has been hijacked,” says one GOP insider.

Source: Alternet

Author: Steven Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

The Republican Party has added a new twist to its renowned blame games. Its Washington-centric establishment is saying the race for the 2016 presidential nominee is all but over before the voting starts.

As national news organizations are reporting just days before Iowa caucuses, it looks like either Donald Trump will mount a successful hostile takeover of the GOP, or the senator most despised by its establishment, Ted Cruz, will grab the nomination. That realization has prompted a growing chorus of GOP strategists and party insiders to chime in with last-minute advice to avoid what others say is inevitable, or simply panic.

“Whoever is not named Trump and not named Cruz that looks strong out of both Iowa and New Hampshire, we should consolidate around,” Henry Barbour, a Mississippi-based strategist told the New York Times, in a piece this week emphasizing time is running out for a “credible alternative.” His uncle is ex-RNC chair and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

This whole thing is a disaster,” Curt Anderson, ex-RNC political director and veteran operative, told Politico.com in a piece that asked who let Trump get this far. “I feel the party has been hijacked,” said RNC member Holland Redfield. “It will be a major internal fight.”

“All of the hand-wringing and alarm-sounding within the Republican establishment is sound and fury signifying nothing,” Chris Cizilla, the Washington Post’s top handicapper wrote Wednesday. “The train has left the station. The boat has left the dock. The genie is out of the bottle. Pandora’s box is open.”

And what a box it is! Before Trump hijacked the headlines by trying to bully Fox News into dumping Megyn Kelly as a moderator for Thursday night’s debate, and then walked away because he didn’t get his way (his press statement said, “this takes guts”), he was drawing the worst GOP publicity hounds. In recent days, that’s included Sarah Palin, Jerry Falwell. Jr., Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Donald Rumsfeld.

“I see someone who has touched a nerve with our country,” Rumsfeld said of Trump. But the one-two punch of Palin’s and Grassley’s support is seen as influential among Iowa Republicans, who are disproportionately right-wing and evangelical. That’s why Mike Huckabee won Iowa in 2008 and Rick Santorum won in 2012.

No matter the reason, the finger-pointing has begun. Republicans who tried to ignite a stop-Trump movement told Politico that the super PACS and donors that lined up behind their more mainsteam candidates—Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie—misspent millions by slamming each other and not attacking Trump or Cruz. “It’s not just campaigns that are coming under fire—it’s also donors, many of whom were presented with the opportunity to go after Trump but didn’t pull the trigger,” Politico wrote. “Much frustration has been directed at the RNC, which some believe has been pushed around by the party’s surprise poll-leader.”

Trump’s Fox News Gambit

Going into the week before the Iowa caucuses, polls showed the dark mood of Republicans favors Trump and Cruz. The base is in a “sour” mood, the Post reported, although that’s too genteel. Ninety percent say the country is on a wrong track. Eighty percent don’t like the way the federal government works. Sixty percent say people like them are losing influence in America. Forty percent say they are “angry” about all of this—hence Trump’s standing: he has the support of 37 percent or so of likely GOP primary voters and has been leading for months.

Trump yet again showed how he can uniquely manipulate the media by reviving his fight with Fox News’ anchor Megyn Kelly. He deliberately picked a fight with her the way he picks fights with protesters at his rallies. The timeline of this latest attention-grabbing gambit saw Trump threaten to pull out of Thursday’s TV debate unless Fox pulled Kelly from one of three moderator slots. But Fox did not budge, forcing Trump to follow through on his threat or look weak—a cardinal sin for him.

The great negotiator might have pulled a dumb move on the eve of what was lining up to be the biggest night of his life—winning the Iowa caucuses to begin his hostile takeover of the GOP. As he will see, politics ahbors a vacuum and he just gave Cruz, who’s slightly trailing, and the posse of other mainstream candidates more airtime to attack and make their case. Undecided Republicans will see other choices without Trump hogging the limelight. Whether that’s a masterful move by the master negotiator remains to be seen. The Washington Post Wednesday reported that Trump supporters are parroting his lines that Kelly is biased and Fox can’t be trusted.

What’s most notable about this latest made-for-media dustup is what it reveals about Trump’s character—how thin-skinned he is when faced with critics who don’t fawn over him. On Tuesday night, Trump held a rare press conference and clashed with reporters who repeatedly asked him to respond to charges that he should not be endorsed by evangelicals because of his past marital infidelities. Come Wednesday, the Times’ campaign blog speculated that Trump knows he will be attacked for past pro-choice stances and would not be able to monopolize the debate coverage by attending. The Times also blogged that his campaign was walking back remarks about not attending the debate.

As the Boston Globe noted, “Cruz continues to work on his Iowa ground game while Trump continues to fight with the media.”

Not Republican, But Authoritarian

Whether he shows up or not, what the country is witnessing is not just a candidate whose uncanny ability to provoke and manipulate the press has upended previous rules of presidential campaigns, rendering mainstream competition all but irrelevant. Voters are also witnessing what an extreme authoritarian looks like and how he operates. That searing conclusion comes from former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who has written many books about political authoritarians and their rise in the Republican Party.

Trump, after decades in the glare of media attention, instinctively understands exactly how to manipulate the fourth estate better than any political figure in modern America,” he recently wrote. “By being himself, he is taking the country to school on how to dominate public attention with his inflammatory rhetoric, which he intuitively employs through unfiltered social media.”

Dean wrote that people who know Trump say he’s not behaving any differently on the campaign trail than he does in his business life. “I spoke with an attorney who has been involved in a number of real estate disputes with Trump, over many years, who said Trump acts in a very similar fashion in his business dealings. He insults and belittles opponents, and is an extremely sore loser, whose standard operating procedure is to try to bully and bend the rules his way.”

“We are going to know a lot more about authoritarian politics when the 2016 presidential race is completed,” Dean said, referring not just to Trump but also to the vast numbers of Americans who are drawn to following extreme authoritarians. What that says about the fate of the modern Republican Party also remains to be seen, but you can be sure that its mainstream leaders see the writing on the wall and are finding it disconcerting.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/gop-establishment-freak-out-mode-they-cant-stop-trump-or-cruz-grabbing-nomination?akid=13921.123424.JgWJCy&rd=1&src=newsletter1049697&t=2