Donald Trump continues to be the leader of the pack, and the reason why is no mystery to anyone who has been listening to the land. Americans are frustrated, angry and many feel desperation over stagnant wages, cultural assaults on their values, declining American influence in a world ever more dangerous, and they’re fed up with politicians who make promises they never intend to keep. They’ve heard some big talk in towns big and small, and now they’re left singing the blues in the night. These feelings are reflected in the turmoil over finding a leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives.
These angry Americans want leaders who share their values and will fight for them. Many see Mr. Trump as that fighter, although he is neither as conservative as they are, nor has he a specific plan to put the country right side up again. These Americans wanted to send a message, looked around and saw that he was the only messenger available. Even if they do not actually nominate him for president, they’re getting a kick out of how he shuns political correctness and pokes a stick in the eye of a party establishment that has no clue about what ordinary people think.
The Republicans in the House want a speaker who will listen to them, too, and to the voters who sent them to Washington. They think a leader should listen closely, pay attention and make an effort to deliver what they promised their constituents they would do.
The frustration of both the members and their constituents is traceable to weaknesses in the way Republicans in Congress have performed over the last two years or so. In politics, today is often the enemy of tomorrow, and in the congressional elections of 2014 the candidates, encouraged by their leaders in Washington, made promises they couldn’t keep and which, if truth be known, the leaders had no intention of trying to keep. Now tomorrow has arrived and the voters who trusted want to know why the big-talk artists didn’t try very hard.
If Republican leaders would talk to those they are sent to Washington to represent — if indeed they are capable of such conversations — they could have explained in plain English what was and was not possible. But that would require an admission that they had deliberately betrayed trust. No politician wants to commit suicide, and coming clean, and admitting they lied, is suicide.
Or is it? If they had come clean even at a late date the voters might accepted such a confession as true penance. Voters are not as dumb as they look from a distance to politicians eager to manipulate. Polls suggest that upwards of 80 percent of Republican voters are dissatisfied with leaders who make fake promises. That number is surely growing.
The mess the Republicans have made of the search for a new speaker isn’t about a minority of ideological conservatives demanding the impossible, but about millions of voters who believe for good reason that they’ve been conned. The next speaker will succeed if he or she resists the temptation to deliver more of the same. It’s just that simple.