- - Monday, July 27, 2015

I was there in the audience when Donald Trump made his unfortunate comments about John McCain’s war record as a POW. And then followed it up by admitting to a room of thousands of evangelicals he’d never sought God’s forgiveness for anything in his life.

As I watched him come backstage to the green room after his obvious on-stage meltdown, I remember thinking this guy is toast. He’s finally given his skeptics the implosion moment they’ve been waiting for. There’s no way he can survive this.

But survive it he has. In fact, Trump 2016 is even stronger now than it was when I wrote about it here previously two weeks ago. Apparently even I have underestimated how many people are really fed up with the status quo, and that’s saying something.

How can this be?

I believe it’s because the long-expected civil war within the Republican Party has finally broken out, and Mr. Trump is its John Brown. For those who don’t get the historical reference, Brown was a 19th century abolitionist zealot. Convinced the political powers-that-be were so corrupted by the evils of slavery only open revolt against the U.S. government would eradicate this blight on our land once and for all.

Opinions on Brown back then were very strong and very divided. Some viewed him as a terrorist. Others viewed him as a vigilante for a righteous cause. But the uprising he led brought the main debate of that age to the point of no return, and helped set the stage for the transformative moment to come.

The Civil War

This is what Trump 2016 is accomplishing in our day. Minus the actual casualties of Brown’s insurgency, of course. Yet Mr. Trump is leading a civil revolt nonetheless. Assembling an odd coalition of various beliefs and factions all united by one fundamental goal — complete overthrow of the loathsome GOP Establishment-Liberal Media Complex in Washington, D.C.

While a majority of GOP primary voters do not want Mr. Trump as their standard-bearer, a majority of GOP primary voters absolutely do favor Mr. Trump’s crusade against the 666 area code to some degree. Right now, Mr. Trump has a lot of direct support, but he has far more indirect support from those who would never vote for someone they see as morally questionable.

Nevertheless, they appreciate Mr. Trump’s willingness to strip our emperors naked of their clothes on national television. They’re hoping he’s successful enough to pave the way for the type of leader they’re looking for, but believe the system is too corrupt as it currently stands to permit to rise.

For this history has happened before as well.

At the same time Brown was leading his abolitionist revolt against the system, a group of like-minded but less zealous group of abolitionists were meeting in Jackson, Michigan. They, too, had grown tired of the compromising and corruption in Washington, and had also soured on the political status quo. So they met to form a new coalition, in the hopes of taking a more principled stand in the political arena to end the scourge of slavery once and for all.

They called themselves the Republican Party.

While they saw Brown’s crusade as distasteful and causing too much collateral damage, they also were planning a more confrontational brand of politics themselves. But these Republicans planned to enact radical change through the election of a transformational president, who would “prohibit in the territories the twin barbarisms of slavery and polygamy” — as it said in the very first Republican Party platform in 1856.

Then in 1860, the year after Brown was hanged for his insurgency, they realized their vision. The Republican Party nominated for president a former congressman, who had lost his last campaign for U.S. Senate, by the name of Abraham Lincoln. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Minus that sort of transformational leader, it is growing increasingly unlikely the GOP can stop the force of nature Mr. Trump has become. Unless he commits some act of criminal malfeasance, or suddenly goes wimpy in the debates that start next week. Barring that, Mr. Trump is building the most potent force in politics.

The cult of personality

I doubt it would hurt him if Mr. Trump flipped off the other candidates and mooned the moderates in the upcoming debates. It seems the zanier he gets the stronger his brand becomes. We’ve seen this before, too.

It appears Mr. Trump has supplanted Rand Paul as the successor to the Ron Paul Revolution. It turns out there really isn’t a massive renaissance of pure libertarianism in America after all. If there were, Rand’s 2016 aspirations would be in much better shape than they obviously aren’t. We’ve now learned the secret sauce of Ron’s success wasn’t an Ayn Rand revival. It was the fact many saw him as the means to orchestrate the rise of a third party within the Republican Party.

Sure, Ron certainly gave a voice to sincere libertarians, but the ranks were swelled by people who don’t know a Bastiat from a bustier. Ron united Calvinists and Anarchists, home-schoolers and stoners, who have nothing in common except they each came to the conclusion it was time to drain the swamp in the 666 area code. Rand’s presidential quest has fallen apart because he wrongly attempted to mainstream and corporatize his father’s revolution. Except once begun a revolution must be allowed to run its course. You don’t tell the peasants to storm the Bastille one day, and then align with the aristocracy for a seat at the table the very next.

A mistake Trump will not make

Similarly, most of Mr. Trump’s support is people of various factions and persuasions rightfully fed up with being fed up. They don’t care that Mr. Trump is no movement conservative, because they’ve watched most of the Republicans they’ve elected ignore or violate the party platform once in office anyway. Mr. Trump is not their noble champion, but their instrument to strike back against a political party that has betrayed them time and time again.

Just as John Brown’s crusade was the manifestation of a corrupt ruling class, so is Mr. Trump‘s. He is not the cause of the GOP’s problems, but the effect. And Dr. Frankenstein always ends up hating the monster he alone is responsible for creating.

The GOP courted Mr. Trump. They took money from Mr. Trump. They craved his pop culture cool. Now he’s turned the tables on them, and is almost bullet-proof. He’s only been a candidate for a month, and he’s already obliterated the GOP Establishment-Liberal Media Complex. Proving the Liberal Media only has sway and influence with the GOP Establishment who grants it to them.

It’s laughable to now hear the GOP Establishment bemoan Mr. Trump running as a third-party spoiler, when they’ve been losing presidential elections without one of those just fine for going on two decades. Ironically, without a third-party spoiler from the Left named Ralph Nader running in 2000, we likely would’ve gone even longer between Republican presidents.

All because the people running this party have done everything they could to demolish the very Reagan Revolution that once made it relevant again.

That leads to me to one final history lesson. Reagan overcame insurmountable odds to win his first landslide in 1980. First, he had to beat an incumbent president and that’s never easy. Historically, incumbent presidents are re-elected about 70 percent of the time. Second, he had to do that while also fending off a credible third-party challenger from his own party — former GOP Congressman John Anderson.

When you go back and see how Reagan accomplished that, and how far today’s GOP has strayed from that success story, you’ll see why Mr. Trump is gaining traction. As well as the kind of nominee it will take to end this civil war and beat Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016.

(Steve Deace is a nationally syndicated talk show host and also the author of the new book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can “like” him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)

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