The American primaries have been an interesting journey so far, to say the least. While the Democrats have been somewhat shaken by the unexpected emergence of Bernie Sanders as one of the top competitors for the nomination spot, their side of the story has so far been pretty standard political fare. Sanders may have hurt Clinton ever so slightly, giving the Democratic establishment something to ponder in terms of future campaign policies, but the neocon frontrunner of the Democratic party is all but guaranteed the seal of approval when heading into the general election.
On the Republican side, however, things have taken a turn toward the slightly surreal and outright bizarre. The Good Old Party finds itself in a tricky predicament where their two leading candidates are, mildly speaking, undesired elements. I don’t think anyone from the Republican establishment could have predicted Ted Cruz to be as strong a candidate as he currently is, and nobody would’ve thought that Donald Trump would be the major force to be reckoned with. But the primary voters have spoken, and here we are. With the Republican convention only a few months away, the rise of Trump and Cruz is a stern wakeup call for the presiding powers of the GOP. They have massively underestimated their voters’ displeasure with the status quo, and it’s come back to bite them in the proverbial behind in a big, and quite embarrassing, manner. More traditional candidates who hold the party’s favor when it comes to campaign policies, like Bush, Rubio and Kasich, have been swept aside by a tidal wave of discontent, leaving the field wide open for a loud-mouthed RINO and a controversial Evangelist. Neither is a preferred choice for the party, but they may have left themselves with no other options come convention time.
Failure to appeal to a more diverse and moderate voter’s base, and a growing alienation of conservative factions, has put the Republican party in a serious (and ironic) predicament. Now they have to choose between a guy they absolutely detest and a guy they hate to back for presidency, and I guess that’s just as much fun as it sounds. There is of course one last string the GOP establishment can pull. If neither Trump or Cruz enters the convention with the needed majority of delegates to secure the nomination, the field becomes open once more. Party rules are quite clear that pledged delegates have to vote for their respective candidate, but only in the first ballot. If the convention becomes brokered after the first round of voting, all delegates are considered to be fair game to anyone who wish to throw their name in the hat. This fact, together with the presence of unpledged delegates, could allow the GOP head honchos to nominate a candidate more to their liking. There’s been some rumors circulating that Mitt Romney intends to put himself out there, and he’s not the only one vying for yet another place in the political spotlight.
It’s a delicate balance, though, as shoving Trump and Cruz out in the cold would send a clear message to the Republican voters. That message is, “Guess what, we don’t really care what you think. The primaries are just another poll – we’re the ones who get to decide, not you.”, and would be perceived as sticking another needle in the eyes of their base. Whether the GOP decides to take firm action against the two frontrunners remains to be seen, and is depending on their willingness to disenfranchise a large number of future voters, as well as how many delegates the two pariahs manage to snatch up before July is here.
One thing is certain, the Republican party finds itself in dire straits and the outcome of this year’s convention could possibly mark the end of American conservatism as we know it. The world is in for an interesting year as the bizarre campaign continues to astound, horrify and amaze.