Many in the Republican establishment desperately want the political world to see Donald Trump as an aberration. The Republican leading in the polls may be an outlandish caricature, the argument goes, but the rest of the Republican field is serious and credible. It’s not their fault GOP voters are gravitating to the former reality-show host at this stage.
Take Carly Fiorina, who’s benefited from all kinds of media buzz and chatter from the political establishment lately. Surely, she’s offering a more sensible alternative to Trump-esque nonsense, right? Wrong.
On Thursday night, Fiorina told another Iowa crowd that she supported parents who didn’t want to vaccinate their children (adding that she also supported public school’s right to deny those kids education).“When in doubt, it is always the parents’ choice,” Fiorina said – expressing a view roundly rejected among public health experts.
Remember, Fiorina has already seen two high-profile GOP rivals – Chris Christie and Rand Paul – run into trouble with the same answer to the same question, but she managed to drive directly into the same ditch.
Today, she also made the case against the existence of the federal minimum wage, and soon after, suggested climate change is about “ideology, it is not about science.”
Ordinarily, when one increasingly popular candidate, over the course of a few days, makes bizarre, right-wing comments about vaccinations, the minimum wage, and climate change, it’d be a huge problem for her campaign’s future. But in August 2015, it’s just par for the course.
Indeed, consider the race for the Republican nomination in context. Mike Huckabee is thinking about dispatching U.S. troops to block women from exercising their reproductive rights and forcing 11-year-old girls to take a pregnancy caused by a rapist to term. Jeb Bush wants to “phase out” Medicare. Marco Rubio thinks it’s scientifically significant that fertilized human eggs don’t become cats.
Rick Perry wants guns in movie theaters. Scott Walker isn’t altogether sure President Obama is a Christian. Rand Paul is playing with chainsaws. Chris Christie wants to punch school teachers in the face.
Ted Cruz not only sees the White House as “the world’s leading state sponsor and financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” he’s also cooking bacon with a machine gun – which isn’t actually a machine gun, though Cruz doesn’t know the difference.
I can appreciate why GOP insiders grow weary of Trump’s clownish antics, but to see Trump as the source of the Republicans’ troubles is to see the presidential race in an overly myopic way.