So, the news out of New Hampshire shot my political punditry right out of the water (another theory slain by ugly facts), but here I am at it again. The narrative in the mainstream media after the New Hampshire primary is that with Sanders and Trump winning, the revolution in both parties is on. Politics as usual is over in this election cycle. Which makes a great story, but let’s slow down just a bit.
First Bernie Sanders. There is a bit of genuine revolution here. A senator who has, in fact fought against politics as usual, first by calling himself an independent, then a socialist, he is a non-religious Jew swimming upstream against the millennialist Christian types currently running amok in the Republican party. His message has, in fact, resonated among progressive voters.
But after a near win in Iowa, where they they like to embrace underdogs (like Barack Obama in 2008) and a clear win in New Hampshire, which is his backyard, I don’t think we can declare the revolution on yet. South Carolina and Super Tuesday loom large and are much more in Hilary’s wheelhouse. If Bernie can get some victories there, I will start to believe.
Ironically, the non-religious Republican front-runner is running what amounts to a revival campaign where he doesn’t so much appeal to Jesus as appearing to be channeling the Republican Jesus directly. In his victory speech his meme seemed to be: “Believe in me, I love you!”
I will say that Trump has laid bare the “religious” roots of the Tea Party movement, that is to say, there are none. Trump is the naked nativism, violence and racism of the movement shorn of any fig leaf of biblical “values.” But is it a revolution?
Maybe not. Although Trump may have had a 20 percentage point lead over his nearest rival, he still only got a third of the Republican vote. Kasich, Rubio/Cruz/Bush combined got 49% of the vote. Some of the Cruz voters might be crazy enough to support Trump, but most of the voters for the others would never vote for Trump in a primary. If the Republicans could put forth decent candidate, he would beat Trump easily.
But none of the candidates who have stepped forward have anything going for them. Christie isn’t even liked in New Jersey any more, Cruz is too busy running for pastor-in-chief, Rubio is just a naked opportunist, and Jeb!, well, even though Bushes served three terms as president, nobody likes them. Kasich is the one they should get behind, at least maybe he could deliver Ohio and they would have a chance. Unfortunately, Kasich is blandly competent, which no longer sells in the Republican party, ask Mitt Romney.
The ragged remnants of the Tea Party would rather see Trump go down in glorious flames in the general election rather than have a chance with a “compromiser” like Kasich.
And that could well be what happens.