The five stages of loss and grief associated with the end of Republican opposition to Donald Trump - Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance - play out differently in California than in the rest of the country which has been going through primaries and caucuses for three months. (Has it only been that long?) With last weekend's California Republican Party convention and the primary set for June 7, we were just getting started and it is already over. Some reactions:
- Relief for those Kasich and Cruz supporters who are in the game, donating, phone banking, registering voters, and walking precincts. Kasich didn't have much of an organization, but had the potential to win a few Bay Area congressional districts. Cruz was the best organized in the state and would probably have done well in the Central Valley. However, with both mathematically unable to get to 1237 and relying on a contested convention, the volunteers had to first explain to prospective Republican primary voters why chaos at the convention would be a good thing. With Trump sweeping New York and then the Northeast, the Cruz/Kasich alliance was unseemly and a desperate reflection of what the pollsters and strategists in both campaigns saw. Those in the California campaigns were committed to soldiering on, but it was obvious going into Indiana that the window was very narrow for even getting to an ugly convention. Emotionally and practically, it is good to have it over.
- While there are divisions among the 3000 or so activists who attended the April 29 to May 1 CRP convention, it will not be that difficult to get everybody unified against Hillary. If there were any question whether the folks in the Burlingame Hyatt had more similarities than differences, the 1000 anti-Trump protesters who surged against the police lines on Friday waving large Mexican flags sealed the deal.
- The Tea Party movement was responsible for the Republican take-over of Congress in 2010 and much Republican success at the state and local level, but they did not get behind a presidential candidate in 2012, and have declined somewhat as a loosely organized institution. It was common to talk with convention delegates who had become activists through the Tea Party, with those who were Constitutional purists migrating to the Cruz campaign, and the more economically aggrieved migrating to the Trump camp. They are still engaged in significant numbers. Most will have a home with Trump.
- From the view of the California Republican Party, it is too bad that the contest ended in Indiana. With 28% state-wide Republican registration and a closed primary in which only Republicans can vote, there loomed a great opportunity to enlarge the party with tens of thousands of independents and Democrats eager to vote for or against Trump. Without these voters, the downticket primary race to replace retiring Senator Barbara Boxer looks almost certain to produce two Democrats in our "top two" primary system.
- My mother used to tell me that if you cannot say something nice about somebody, you shouldn't say anything. By that standard, this would be a very quiet presidential contest from here on out. But in that spirit, I would offer one observation about Donald Trump: amidst all of his political incorrectness there is little on social issues. The portion of the party that is concerned about abortion, gay marriage, gender rest rooms, and the like went with Ted Cruz.
- As some Trump supporters told me at the CRP convention, today's polls do not matter. For the last several months Trump has been under attack by the media, the Democrats, and the Republicans; Hillary has had little Republican or media attack and Bernie has not gone to the core of Hillary's corruption or the failure of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy. Trump connects emotionally, and he will have a field day with Hillary.
'Nuf said. There is no immediate need to rationalize taking a position on the Trump / Hillary race. That day will come, but it is not today.
This week's video reflects the latest in the search for a 3d party presidential candidate.
bill bowen - 5/6/16