If there’s one point on which the political commentariat are currently agreed on, it’s that the rise of Donald Trump means the end of Business as Usual for the GOP — that there’s no going back to the way things have been done since the days of Ronald Reagan.
I’m not convinced.
I’m not saying that these people are wrong; I’m just not sure that they’re right. Will the party bosses and apparatchiks fall on their swords? Surely not. Will the highly-paid consultants admit that they don’t know what they’re talking about and gracefully withdraw from the stage? Don’t make me laugh.
So here’s the question that matters: Will the big donors demand the resignation of the party leaders, and turn to different consultants? Maybe.
But maybe not. Here’s what the people currently in charge will tell them: “Trump is a black swan. Nobody could have predicted that his candidacy would take off like this. Yes, he tapped into some legitimate resentment, but those people were pretty quiet before he came on the scene and they’ll fall back into that same quietness when he’s no longer around stirring them up. No one else is going to rise up to be their champion, because such a person would need not only to share their point of view, but also be famous enough to win their admiration and rich enough to run his own campaign without help from any of us. Ain’t gonna happen. By the time the next campaign rolls around, the long-standing patterns of political affiliation will have reasserted themselves. Plus, Rubio has earned a great deal of respect for how he has run his campaign, especially in these last few weeks; he has learned from the mistakes he made this time around; and four more years of age will only make him look more Presidential. We’ve got this. Just give us one more chance.”
Will the donors buy — figuratively and literally — this argument? I think there’s a pretty good chance they will. After all, to reject it would be to acknowledge that they’ve been throwing money away for years, in some cases decades; and to accept that they’ll have to build a whole new set of relationships with people they don’t know very well, or at all. The narrative the incumbent party bosses will tell them is a narrative they have massive incentive to believe.
I would be very grateful if some wise person who is convinced that Trump is permanently changing the GOP would explain to me the mechanisms by which this change will be effected. This inquiring mind wants to know.
P.S. Of course, the above assumes that Trump will not win the Presidency. If he does, all bets are off.