- - Monday, July 27, 2015


Politics — and politicians in a democracy — are a true reflection of society’s virtues and faults at a given window in time.

Given this premise, Donald Trump’s entry into, and early success in, the 2016 GOP presidential field should come as no surprise to anyone who understands what is going on in American society today.

Reality TV: “Real Housewives,” “Duck Dynasty” — name your favorite show — they are a fascination for an unfiltered experience into the lives of Americans freely expressing their views with a crude candor unimaginable for TV just a generation ago.

The Republican base is also rightfully angry. It is upset at an imperial White House intent on trampling the constitutional separation of powers with the Congress; at a GOP majority in both chambers unable to pass legislation to balance the budget, secure our borders and revoke Obamacare; and, furious about world leaders’ disdain for America.

And then … an unbearable pain at the tragedy of a beautiful young lady senselessly shot to death in front or her dad by an illegal alien felon who had unlawfully entered our country five times, finding a heaven in San Francisco — America’s most liberal enclave.

At the very moment of this perfect storm brewing, enters reality TV’s best known celebrity: Donald Trump, assuming the role of every disaffected and exasperated American and answering their prayers that an unexpected figure from outside the tainted Washington establishment would appear and put all of our political wrongdoers in their rightful place. Thus, dramatically, The Donald rushed in, unleashing unfiltered verbal attacks on his fellow Republican primary adversaries; heaping insults on neighboring nations and allies as well and conveying narcissistic assurances that he would put China, Russia, ISIS in their place and give all Americans a chance at success because he will brilliantly find a way. He has identified the angst of our electorate and fueled the flames without bearing the burden of proffering solutions because his audience is so mesmerized by his assurances. Heck, even our most popular conservative radio and TV personalities have stood back enjoying the jabs at their favorite targets, not wanting to interrupt the sheer joy of the occasion, for now.

Today, we are a few days away from the first presidential debate on August 6, in Cleveland, Ohio. The campaign officially starts. Isn’t it about time that we treat our front-runner with the same level of scrutiny as we have everyone else? Most conservatives, even those of us not supporting Mr. Trump, will admit to smiling at an outlandish missive of his from time to time; but, let’s all come to our senses, the campaign officially starts now. The party is over, it’s time to get serious

Donald Trump has been on the record as pro-choice, in favor of universal health care, in support of Hillary Rodham Clinton and many of her husband’s liberal policies while president. Let’s ask the hard questions. Let’s treat him like a presidential candidate and not a Hollywood celebrity. Is that too much to ask of our conservative journalists?

Let Donald Trump earn his front-runner status, if he is deserving. Unless conservatives believe that he has made a remarkable and honest evolution from his political views of the past, then it’s difficult to forecast his remaining on top of the field much longer; but let’s give him a chance to be judged by what he truly stands for, not for his Hollywood style of campaigning. This surreal moment we are experiencing, trumps (pardon the pun) any movie or TV series Hollywood has put out to date. They simply feel that the audience would never believe this scenario could possibly happen. Stranger than fiction indeed.

You can readily detect liberals’ glee at our predicament, giving them confidence that in spite of Mrs. Clinton’s growing vulnerabilities and troubling polling data, Republicans will self-implode in the process, allowing Democrats to seize victory for the first time since Andrew Jackson’s days, the last time a Democrat was elected to succeed a two-term Democratic president.

Lastly, a personal note to most Republican primary candidates: in the event that Mr. Trump’s star fades, how do you intend to attract his supporters? They have a voice now and you have not satisfactorily answered their concerns to date. Gaining their enthusiasm may well be key to our success in November 2016,

Al Cardenas is a partner in the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs and is the former chairman of the American Conservative Union.

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