WASHINGTON, DC – As Republicans and Democrats go through the long process of selecting a nominee for next year’s presidential election, both parties face the same question. Will the anti-establishment – even anti-political – mood now dominating the contest last?
For once, Labor Day (the first Monday in September) was not the presidential race’s demarcation point: the overall themes had already been set. Revulsion at government and traditional politicians hit the presidential contest like a tornado in the summer, flattening the campaigns of some who were once seen as serious contenders.
Among Republicans this sentiment is, of course, no surprise, given their party’s steady rightward drift and consistent antipathy toward President Barack Obama. But it suited a wealthy, noisy braggart who barreled into the race attacking conventional politicians as “stupid” and insisting that he alone could get things done.
Those who wrote off Donald Trump as a “buffoon” failed to see that he has shrewdly read the Republican zeitgeist, and that he knows precisely where to stick the knife into competitors. His depiction of former Florida governor Jeb Bush as a man of “low energy” has done real damage to a candidate whom many had assumed – even before he formally entered the race – would be the favorite.