It’s the ides of March, but Donald Trump, cast as a bloviating, bellicose Julius Caesar in this political play, isn’t facing his doom.
Instead, to borrow from another bit of Caesar’s life, he’s crossing the Rubicon to victory, preparing to send his rivals scattering to the hinterlands of our republic to desperately plot a downfall that’s unlikely to happen, because Trump-mentum has reached the point of no return.
Trump is and will be the presumptive Republican nominee for president, and there is nothing—nothing—the GOP brass, his competitors or his detractors can do about it. The only thing standing in this Trumpius Caesar’s way is a potential win for Gov. John Kasich in Ohio and a not-as-likely victory for Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida.
And even if both of those states did fall out of his favor and into the hands of his competitors, could Trump really be stopped? If he wins the most delegates—which he is still very likely to do—could the GOP actually deny him the nomination based on a series of technicalities and risk upsetting and alienating his supporters, many of whom are enthusiastic first-time voters and the stalwarts of the conservative Republican base? Highly unlikely.
Yet these are the options—bad and worse—that the GOP has for stopping Trump from seizing all and declaring victory over the Republican establishment.
In Roman history, Julius Caesar and his army cross the Rubicon River, sending the Roman senators (aka “the establishment”) running for their lives. Caesar ultimately destroys the Roman Republic, creating the Roman Empire with him as its dictator. If you studied Shakespeare’s political tragedy Julius Caesar in school, then you might remember that the play was all about the conspiracy to kill Caesar, which backfires badly.
Even if he doesn’t make it to the White House, Trump is definitely going to have a great impact on a Republican Party that he is tearing apart in his pursuit of the presidency. All the years of purity tests and Tea Party-ism have led to this moment, the moment when the base could finally demand bloody retribution for its loyalty.
The base might be wondering what has been the point of voting Republican when all the causes the GOP has backed in recent years have failed. The base was told that the GOP would stop Obamacare, and yet Obamacare lives. They were told that the GOP would stop gay marriage, and yet it is now the law of the land. They were told that Barack Obama would be a one-term president, and yet he beat them twice. They were promised an end to abortion, a victory in the culture wars and the return of jobs from overseas (through tax cuts for the richest of the rich); and yet abortions are still legal, the culture wars rage on and jobs remain elusive for those most disrupted by our global economy.
It’s almost as if the GOP is inept at stemming the tides of progress, despite its obstructionism. And while it is easy for the party to say what it’s against, by never providing to their base what the party is actually for, Republicans have left their voters adrift.
What does the modern Republican Party actually want for America? What are its grand policies and plans, beyond the same vile porridge of “voodoo economics” and “strong on national defense” babble that it’s been feeding its constituents since the Reagan era? That’s more than 30 years of nonsense, and finally, the silent majority is calling the party on it via their support of Trump.
Sure, it looks like a suicidal move—the GOP needs to win 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in the fall, and its would-be nominee called Mexicans “rapists”—but that may be the point. Trump supporters want him to be an iconoclast and smash the idols of Republicanism, idols they believe have lied to them and failed them over and over.
What do Trump supporters always say about Trump that they admire so much? That he “tells it like it is.” Gone are the GOP dog whistles on race and immigration that were such crucial parts of the “Southern strategy.” Trump flat out says aloud things that could be construed as racist while insisting that he is not one. He says that he needs to know more about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan before denouncing them, then hastily “disavows” them without clarification as to why that was so hard to do in the first place.
There may be a GOP conspiracy to stop Trump at the convention, but it will fail, and the establishment, out of self-preservation, will ultimately fall in line, because it’s people who prop up a party—not the other way around—and the people have spoken: They want Trump.
Trump is the id of the Republican base. He is every crazy “black helicopter” conspiracy caller on every local right-wing talk show. He is every I’m-no-racist-but person who then says something incredibly racist. He is every extremist evangelical who thinks that Sen. Ted Cruz’s only flaw is that, as an extremist, Cruz doesn’t go far enough. He is the GOP fringe as mainstream, uniting those who were once dejected and disaffected, who are now registering to vote at record pace.
He is their Caesar and they are his army, marching on to the convention in Cleveland, tossing, punching, kicking and pushing their way through the opposition. They don’t care if Trump rallies devolve into chaos and pandemonium. They don’t care if a few bones get broken on the way to their reward.
Donald Trump is their holy vehicle set to barrel into the convention in July and drive the GOP to their will, not the other way around. They will remake the party to be more like them, not less. If they can’t “take back America,” then they will take back the GOP, even if it means turning it into a mass dumpster fire in the process.
Fire is good. Fire purifies. Fire destroys—and Donald Trump is that weapon of mass destruction.
The burning starts this Tuesday.