GOP goes through the stages of grief

There is a well-known idea proposed by psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross that people pass though five stages of grief when they are given a diagnosis of a terminal illness: (1) Denial (2) Anger (3) Bargaining (4) Depression (5) Acceptance. Some have expanded this to seven stages, adding Shock/Disbelief and Guilt: (1) Shock or Disbelief (2) Denial (3) Anger (4) Bargaining (5) Guilt (6) Depression (7) Acceptance and Hope.

When it comes to the Republican presidential race an Donald Trump’s dominance, it looks like the Republican party has rapidly progressed through most of the steps.

We saw the initial shock and disbelief as he shot to the top of the polls immediately following the announcement that he would run. We then saw denial as people predicted that he was just a flash in the pan, another Herman Cain or Michelle Bachman, a short-lived infatuation of voters who would soon abandon him as they got to know him better and got tired of his shtick. We did not see much of the third stage of anger early on but we did see the party bargaining with him and getting him to agree that he would support the eventual nominee. We have no sign that the party feels any guilt for having created the conditions that have enabled Trump to thrive. There is no doubt a lot of depression that is being manifested privately as the reality sinks in that the party establishment is stuck with him for at least the foreseeable future and that he might lead the party to a landslide loss. And now an internal confidential memo has surfaced that reveals acceptance, because it suggests ways in which the party could accommodate a Trump nomination.

In a seven-page confidential memo that imagines Trump as the party’s presidential nominee, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee urges candidates to adopt many of Trump’s tactics, issues and approaches — right down to adjusting the way they dress and how they use Twitter.

In the memo on “the Trump phenomenon,” NRSC Executive Director Ward Baker said Republicans should embrace Trump’s tough talk about China and “grab onto the best elements of [his] anti-Washington populist agenda.” Above all, they should appeal to voters as genuine and beyond the influence of special interests.

“Trump has risen because voters see him as authentic, independent, direct, firm, — and believe he can’t be bought,” Baker writes. “These are the same character traits our candidates should be advancing in 2016. That’s Trump lesson #1.”

The idea that Trump’s appeal is largely due to the idea that he can’t be bought is of dubious merit. It only adds value and does not create it. If Trump’s message were not so focused on appealing to white, Christian, xenophobic, and otherwise paranoid and obnoxious elements of the party, his ‘can’t be bought’ message would count for nothing and could possibly even harm him.


  1. jacobletoile says

    I don’t understand why people think he can’t be bought. The man is as self centered as they come. The only principal he seems to have is ‘whats good for Trump is good.’ that is almost the very definition of someone who can be bought. The man makes his money by selling his name for crying out loud.

  2. devlynh says

    Everyone can be bought, its just the price they haggle over.
    Trump has done the purchasing in the past. He says he can’t be bought because he knows his price is extremely high. And he is worth every penny, just ask him.

  3. DonDueed says

    Trump can get away with claiming that he can’t be bought simply because people believe he’s already too rich to be swayed by campaign contributions.

    That won’t generalize to your local congressional race, since virtually no other candidate is in that position. So it’s absurd for the Republican Committee to think they can sell that message below the Presidential level. Any competent opponent will have a field day responding to that kind of claim.

    And, of course, even in the case of Trump it ignores reality. Since when have billionaires stopped trying to get more, more, more?

  4. Robert,+not+Bob says

    See, that’s what I’ve been worried about. They surrender to Trump, quash the other candidates, and make all that money available to him (of course he’ll take it-he’s not exactly a man of his word). And then when the DNC inevitably shafts Bernie, all the young liberals won’t vote… He could win this.

  5. StevoR says

    I still don’t think Trump will necessarily be the Republican nominee because among other things there’s still a very long time till the election and a lot can -- indeed still has to -- happen. Where things could finally go badly wrong for Trump and knock him out of contention. Haven’t even had any primaries have we?

    OTOH, I was wrong when I thought at the start that he was nothing more than a joke candidate pretending to campaign for publicity’s (& $’s) sake and when I expected his campaign to very quickly implode and disappear. Gotta admit its now looking worryingly likely that he may well be the R-nominee and runner-up to Hillary Clinton. Which is a lot closer to power than a buffoon like Trump should get.

    We did not see much of the third stage of anger early on but ..

    .. But I bet there was plenty of it expressed out of public sight behind the scenes in the upper echelons of the Repubs anyhow! That we didn’t see it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

  6. says

    When it comes to the Republican presidential race an Donald Trump’s dominance, it looks like the Republican party has rapidly progressed through most of the steps.

    This is only the nomination, it’s not the election. If they don’t like Chump, they can vote democrat. Clinton is further to the right than Reagan ever was.

    I’d love to see the dilemma on their faces if the choice was Bernie Sanders or Chump. Most republicans would probably stay home and not vote.

  7. doublereed says

    By this logic, they should only run candidates who are personally wealthy.

    I never really thought of it that way. If they tried to run someone who was middle class or upper middle class, clearly those are people that “could be bought.” If I’m understanding it correctly, the only trustworthy ones are super-rich people.

  8. lorn says

    To my way of thinking there are two ways of doing ‘Can’t be bought’.

    First is more or less the conventional one that everyone knows. It is inaccurately stated for Trump as ‘he has too much money to be bought’. My first objection to this is that there is, by definition, as being too rich. A capitalist always wants more. My second is that there is, as shown by numerous studies, something approximately twice as powerful as the lure of money; the fear of losing the money you already have. People will only spend $5 to make $5 but it is often the case that people will in effect spend $10 to avoid losing $5. To bring Trump to heel you might want to threaten what he has instead of just offering a bribe. Trump likes being rich and fears being poor.

    Second, bribery is very conventional. Money has bearing in this very real money worshiping world. Problem is that, the GOP, Trump included, is not reality based. Flaunting accepted reality has become such a badge of honor, and so a reflexive reaction, that it has become the default. The epistemic closure is almost total.

    They have bought into the party line so deeply and often that they no longer realize they are denying reality. At some level they forgot that trickle-down was a catch phrase to justify an economic policy which was, in itself, just a means to an end. The end being to enrich the wealthy while punishing the poor.

    Ryan hits all the points with his announced policy of lower taxes, smaller government, lower deficits, and, of course, freedom. There is absolutely no mention on how any of that is applicable or corrective for the problems we face. Or why after a couple of decades where that agenda only made things worse, that it will make things better this time around. This is a faith-based initiative.

    We are not talking about reality based policies. Trump is the current king of of this alternate reality.

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