The Republican Presidential Race Demonstrates That We Don’t Live in an Oligarchy

Five months ago this was a telling statement from a major power broker in the Republican Party:

“I have no feeling for the electorate anymore,” said John H. Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor who helped the elder Mr. Bush win the 1988 primary there and went on to serve as his White House chief of staff. “It is not responding the way it used to. Their priorities are so different that if I tried to analyze it I’d be making it up.”

That was before Jeb Bush withdrew from the race – followed by the exit of Marco Rubio this week. Along the way, several other “establishment” candidates also fell by the wayside.

What is even more telling is that, with only one remaining “insider” in the race now – John Kasich – the party establishment seems to be coalescing around Ted Cruz as their last chance to stop Donald Trump from winning the nomination. As Caitlin Huey-Burns summarizes, we watch in amazement as politicians like Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Marco Rubio join the Cruz train. As a reminder of what a leap that is, a couple of months ago Graham said that choosing between Trump and Cruz is like deciding whether to be shot or poisoned. Looks like he picked his poison.

Over the course of the last few months one of the things I’ve come to count on is that every morning, as I scan the headlines, there is always at least one that reads something like this: “Republican elites meet to plan how to stop Trump.” I don’t know what has been discussed in all of those meetings, but Eugene Robinson pretty well summed it up with the title of his latest: The GOP’s Stop-Trump “Movement” is a Pathetic Joke.

I say all that because it’s important to recognize what’s going on here. That “pathetic joke” has been fueled by all the money, media and corporate power the Republican Party is able to coral. And it has been a total failure. As obnoxious as a duel between Trump and Cruz might be, it has demonstrated the complete powerlessness of the establishment of that party to stop them in this election.

While it’s true that the Republicans built this Frankenstein that is now in the midst of destroying their party, it is worth noting that this also signifies that the “oligarchy” so many have assumed is actually not in control of our political process. If that was the case, it would have destroyed Donald Trump (and Ted Cruz) a long time ago.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.