The Fifth Stage of GOP Grief

If I’m enjoying anything about Donald Trump’s conquest and pillaging of what’s left of the Republican Party, it’s watching Glenn Beck be humiliated and, of course, seeing Ted Cruz implode. Tonight, I’m drunk on anti-Cruz schadenfreude. 

I’m really dreading the inevitable Trump hangover tomorrow morning.

Although, really, it probably won’t be all that bad. After all, I went through the five stages of GOP grief a long time ago. I’ve come to accept that Donald Trump, who is equal parts odious and ridiculous, is the Black Plague to create the ring around the Republican rosie. Ashes; ashes; we all fall down. 

Most of my Republican friends have been dragging their heels in the other four stages. Even in February, there were plenty in denial, (Rubio will pull it out!), and Mormons have done more than their fair share of bargaining. (It’ll be Romney in a contested convention!) There’s still oodles of anger and depression, but there’s very little acceptance. 

Well, Trump is now the nominee. Acceptance is the only viable option left. 

Acceptance doesn’t mean happiness, you understand. Accepting reality is not the same thing as liking it. I can accept that Zack Snyder is going to continue to butcher the DC movie universe, but that doesn’t make “Batman v. Superman” suck any less. But as they say, crap happens. (Yes, I know that’s not how they say it. I’m still in denial on that one.) 

So as you ponder the unimaginable reality in which we collectively find ourselves, I suggest you get a head start on the Five Stages of General Election Grief and accept a few things in May instead of waiting until November.

1. Accept that Trump has ended the Republican Party as a credible, conservative, or even a coherent political force. 

If Trumpism bears any resemblance to conservatism, it’s purely coincidental. Even Trump has no idea what Trumpism is. This is not an ideological movement; it’s a political suicide squad. The people who support Trump don’t believe in anything beyond the utter destruction of anything connected to the existing system of American governance. They just want to burn it all down. That includes the GOP “establishment,” which, although a hackneyed and intellectually lazy concept to begin with, now is revealed to be an impotent dinosaur with no capacity to keep The Donald from dancing on its grave. 

The party, as they say, is over. 

2. Accept that Trump, now having won the party’s nomination, will essentially abandon his party in the campaign to come. 

Trump has demonstrated the capacity to jettison all his ideological baggage and ignore the media frenzy his inconsistency creates. Remember when Trump was a birther who thought the president was born in Kenya?  Bring it up with him, and he shrugs his shoulders and says, “I don’t talk about that anymore.” He doesn’t disavow it; he just ignores it. Call him on a contradiction or even an outright lie, and he doubles down on the lie. And the media gets itself into a lather, which drives Trump’s poll numbers up. 

Trump is going to stop talking about a wall. He’s going to stop talking about banning Muslims. He’s never going to mention the Republican Party again. His running mate will be either a Democrat or a celebrity with no known political affiliations. He’s going to transcend party. And, horror of horrors, it just might work. 

3. Accept that Trump can win. 

Ha ha ha. Trump can win?! What an idiot I must be. Look at his negatives! He’s ridiculous! Hillary will destroy him!

Yeah, okay. Talk to the “Republican establishment” about how Trump can’t ever be the nominee. Last August, the mighty Nate Silver gave Trump a 5% chance of winning the nomination. And yet here he is. 

But that’s just Republicans, who, by definition, are morons, right? Well, maybe, but I don’t think Democrats should underestimate the stupidity in their own ranks. Do not be surprised when young and ignorant Bernie supporters identify with Trump’s burn-it-all-down message instead of Hillary’s milquetoast, screechy-grandma routine. Do not presume that longstanding institutional and demographic hatred of Republicans will apply to Trump, who registers in the public mind more as “that guy from ‘The Apprentice'” than “a Republican.” 

Understand the limits of what I’m saying here. I’m not saying Trump will win. But just assuming he can’t win is a mistake. It’s the mistake that the Republicans made, and it destroyed the party. National destruction is a very real possibility if the electorate at large makes the same mistake. 

4. Accept that, either way, America is done.

The structural instability of the global economy is eroding the effectiveness of the very concept of the nation state, so Trump and Hillary are actually competing to see who gets to turn the light off on the way out. 

I’m going to bed now. 

At least Cruz lost. 

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