Opinion: A party on the way to self destruction | Opinion | DW | 05.08.2016
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Opinion: A party on the way to self destruction

The Republicans have failed to find a way to curb the rants of their party's presidential candidate Donald Trump. Ines Pohl in Washington says it was the party itself which created the spirit in which he operates.

The more the times are confused, the more the recommendation is to step back for a moment.

For example, back to the start of this election year. For, at that time, it was still completely open as to who would become the nominees for the presidential candidates of both major parties. Much of the world thought that Jeb Bush for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats would fight for the right to enter the White House.

Scarcely an annual event, scarcely democratic but it appeared only members of these two political dynasties - Bush and Clinton - had a chance of achieving this most important political post.

Fewer than 100 days to the election

But with fewer than 100 days to the big election day, everything has changed.

Indeed, Hillary Clinton is the presidential candidate for the Democrats. But she had to fight for longer than expected and only gained her clear victory over Bernie Sanders because the Democratic Party leadership was on the ball, took on the underdog early and fought against him by all means. The strategy became clear on the eve of the convention and obliged party leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz to withdraw. It also confirmed to some how allegedly corrupt and manipulating the Democrats had become.

Jeb Bush, former Republican Party presidential hopeful

Jeb Bush, former Republican Party presidential hopeful

Republicans have evidently taken less care and were unable to find a strategy to push away the underdog Donald Trump. Instead, against all the predictions, Jeb Bush and other known party names had to clear the field and let Donald Trump take over the game.

Trump's two trump cards

Trump won with two trump cards, which he will not give up until election day on November 8.

His strongest card is his outsider status. He can use arguments to show that he has very little to do with the political system. Although the businessman is closely tied to the people involved, he is not entangled in the structures of either of the parties. As a result he enjoys credibility with many Americans who are convinced that the establishment is an exclusive club of politicians who slide from one cushy post to another. They are seen to focus first and foremost on their own well-being, having lost sight of the interests of the wider population.

Trump's other card is his promise to make America great again. On this, many of his arguments are racist, xenophobic and against the interests of women. But there is something beyond it: the prospect that with a President Trump there would finally be results-oriented policies rather than, as in previous years, policies of prevention. For this, the Republicans have only themselves to blame. For it was the party's anti-democratic delaying tactics in Congress that prevented the Obama Administration from carrying out its work.

A corrupt political system

It is around these two lines - his outsider status and his promise to make America great again - that Trump has woven a substantial safety net for his campaign.

When party leaders such as Paul Ryan attack and fail to back him, or well-known Republicans such as Meg Whitman switch to the Clinton camp - that, for many Trump supporters, is just further evidence of the political elite's interconnections and how corrupt the whole system is.

Donald Trump is only possible because there is a grain of truth in his criticism. Even if he is a dangerous beneficiary of the message, it still remains true.

The political leadership of this country, so often referred to as the greatest democracy, has lost touch with much of the population. Voters feel that their fears and needs are neither seen nor heard.

The inability of the two major parties to find political solutions, and their loss of credibility in recent years through the telling of lies within corrupt structures have opened the doors to a populist like Trump.

Leading without answers

Until now, the Republican Party leadership has found no answer on how to react to Trump's attacks, which are increasingly directed towards the party itself. Insults are only likely to strengthen Trump's position. There is no possibility for the party to choose an alternative candidate. According to the party rules, only Trump can pave the way for the nomination of another Republican presidential candidate, if he withdraws.

That, for the moment, is difficult to imagine.

Trump has made it clear who he would blame should he fail: a corrupt system, which would also include the Republican Party.

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