- - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A few days ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker created a new leadership style. He called it “Leadership by quitting.” Leadership by quitting is a novel concept. How have major American business schools, where leadership is a core skill, missed this concept?

Mr. Walker went from the top of the pack in the Republican presidential race to barely registering in polls in an amazingly short time. Mr. Walker quickly identified the problem: It was Donald Trump. It was not the Walker campaign’s amazingly poor management skills. It could not have been his flip-flopping on major issues. It could not have been his incredibly poor debate performances or his unbelievably bad political strategy.

It was Donald Trump.

As he checked out of the race, Mr. Walker launched a tirade against Mr. Trump, though he did not call Mr. Trump by name. He urged other Republicans to “lead by quitting” so there could be a united front against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Walker’s anger against Mr. Trump is not unlike the wrath of the Republican Party establishment against Mr. Trump. The GOP establishment doesn’t like Donald Trump. He isn’t their man. Of course, this is the same crowd that thought John McCain and Mitt Romney would be great candidates. This is the same group that expected everyone to fall down and crown Jeb Bush the Republican nominee, so their judgment is at best delusional.

But the Republican Party is missing something obvious and something huge.

The early Republican debates are drawing record audiences.

Both the Fox News and CNN debates set ratings records. The obvious question is why and the equally obvious answer is Donald Trump. Mr. Trump is fueling interest in the debates and, by extension, exposing the Republican presidential candidates to a greater audience.

The Republicans should be thrilled about this. But they aren’t. The fact that Donald Trump is driving viewers to the debates is far less important to the Grand Old Party elites than the fact he is not one of their anointed candidates. Instead of being grateful for this opportunity to expose the Republican Party and its beliefs to new people, the GOP just wants to complain about Trump.

If the Republican leadership had any sense, they would be demanding the networks carrying the debates allow the GOP to run some “Join the Republican Party” commercials. Instead of doing something really smart, like trying to grow the party, the establishment just wants to destroy Mr. Trump.

Why does the GOP hate Mr. Trump so much?

Mr. Trump isn’t under the control of the establishment. He also is against the top priority of the Republican Party. He is for protecting America against illegal aliens. The Republican establishment takes its orders from the Chamber of Commerce and they want amnesty.

Rather than celebrate the fact that record numbers of people are watching Republican debates, the establishment would be happier if no one was watching, as long as Donald Trump was not in the debates.

As the Republicans look at 2016, this should be the year of the GOP. But then again, 2012, should have been the Republicans’ year as well. But when the Republican leadership is so at odds with the base, the future of the Republican Party is in question.

The GOP leadership may get its wish and eventually may force Mr. Trump out of the race for the Republican nomination. But the GOP leadership ignores the fact that Mr. Trump’s message is resonating with the base and the GOP’s message is not.

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