WASHINGTON, January 15, 2016 — Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin told MSNBC that a Florida rally for GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was “one of the biggest I’ve been to.”
And 20,000 showed up to see Trump at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vermont.
The facility, built in 1930, seats only 1,400.
Recently, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza attended a Trump rally at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. “This building holds 8,000 people,” said Cillizza, “and local officials were estimating that it was filled to capacity or beyond. That is a MASSIVE amount of people—especially considering that the high temperature in Lowell yesterday was 29 degrees and Trump’s rally didn’t start until the evening.”
Last September, GOP presidential also-ran, Jeb Bush—who once hoped to follow in the footsteps of his father and big brother George—spoke to a gathering in Las Vegas. “Jeb Bush did not have to stand on his tiptoes to see over the crowd,” said the London Daily Mail.
They numbered 200.
“Bush typically draws between 100 and 200 people at his town halls,” CNN later explained.
In 2012, Geoffrey Kabaservice, author of “Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party,” said:
“At the present moment, when the Republican Party has adopted a near-uniform posture of opposition to the Democratic Party and its agenda, contemporary observers can be forgiven for believing that Republicanism has always been identical with conservatism … It is only in the last decade or so that movement conservatism finally succeeded in silencing, co-opting, repelling, or expelling nearly every competing strain of Republicanism from the party, to the extent that the term ‘liberal Republican’ or ‘moderate Republican’ have practically become oxymorons.”
Hardly. Kabaservice suffers from an inability to distinguish between rhetoric and reality.
Many Republican politicians campaign as conservatives, using conservatism’s fiscal and social arguments as bludgeons against their Democratic opponents. But they jettison those principles once in office.
Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have not, as Kabaservice insists, presented “a near-uniform posture of opposition to the Democratic Party and its agenda.”
When GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan orchestrated the passage of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, a delighted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Roll Call that Republicans “gave away the store.” She noted that GOP leaders assured her a top spending priority for 2016 will be a taxpayer bailout of bankrupt Puerto Rico.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Washington Post, “We want to continue to be the kind of Senate we were last year. Focusing on things that could be achieved, and turned into a law.”
These laws, whether concocted by establishment Republicans or establishment Democrats, are designed to tax, spend and borrow against your and your children’s future.
The Democratic charge that Republicans are mean-spirited, right-wing troglodytes is laughable when the monsters they rail against are imaginary phantoms and straw men.
And that takes us back to Trump.
Trump told Bloomberg Television that the size of his rallies indicates a seismic political shift is in store for the GOP. “I think that the closest thing I can think of is Reagan,” said Trump. “Now, Reagan had a little bit of this, but I don’t think to the same extent—but he also won.”
I attended a Reagan rally in Alhambra, California, in 1976. If someone had fired a cannon at the crowd, more trees than people would have been struck. That all changed in 1980, when Reagan defeated his mush-mouthed, moderate GOP primary rivals.
“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leads the [Republican presidential] pack with the most endorsements,” said the Washington Times.
“If endorsements mattered,” GOP strategist Hope Hicks told the Times, “Jeb Bush would be in first place.”
Those endorsements don’t matter. GOP voters now know that when establishment Republican politicians promise sizzling filet mignon, nine times out of 10 they deliver putrefied road kill.
The Trump ascendancy means GOP voters are ready to reverse rolls and serve up establishment Republicans as, well, road kill.