Primaries favor outlandish candidates

Last summer, I wrote that Donald Trump could never become president of the United States. I was convinced he could not even achieve the GOP nomination. The Republican voters would never choose such a flawed candidate; I was certain of it. I was wrong on every count.

Republicans may very well select Trump as their party’s presidential nominee, and while I still do not believe he will win the general election, I admit he does have a chance. One never knows what currently unknown factors can play into the race for the White House.

Many Republicans are aghast at the thought of Donald Trump heading their ticket. There are a number of factors that help explain this Trump phenomenon, factors that political pundits of all stripes overlooked. Truth is the GOP is responsible for some of the factors.

First and perhaps foremost, polls reveal that the electorate is very angry, especially within the GOP. No candidate has ever been so successful at feeding that anger as has Trump. Trump realizes the angry mood and has played it up for all its worth.

That explains why he can make exceptionally ugly, angry statements and still gain strength among Republican voters. The Republican Party should accept its share of the blame for the angry mood of its segment of the electorate.

It has been guilty of stirring up anger for political gain. Voters who see President Obama as “not one of us” do so in large part because the GOP insisted for eight years he is a socialist, he is not American-born, he is a Muslim and he hates America.

Not one Republican leader stood up for the fact that these are all false claims.

Republican voters are angry for a number of reasons. They see an end to the American Dream. Middle class wages are stagnant, while the rich get richer. Older white American males are the angriest of all; that was revealed in a recent study.

This anger among Republican voters is worthy of a conversation all its own. Questions about the cause of such anger might shed great light on the problems we face today.

A second factor favoring Trump is the very dysfunction within the GOP. Poll after poll during this campaign has shown that anti-establishment types have far more support among Republican voters than establishment candidates.

Trump, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz combined have consistently polled in the 60 percent range and no, there is nothing establishment about Cruz.

Voters see current GOP leaders as having accomplished nothing while in office. Conservatives are especially angry with GOP leaders because they were promised so much for decades that conservative Republicans have failed to accomplish, even when controlling both houses of Congress.

They have failed to cut the federal deficit, in fact, it increased more under Republican presidents over the past three and a half decades than under Democrats in the White House.

GOP tax cuts have played a significant role in that failure. They failed to shrink the size of the federal government in large part because the needs of the more than 319 million Americans cannot be met by a small central government.

A third factor is the dysfunctional candidate selection process itself. It takes power away from the political parties and gives it to a relatively small number of primary voters who tend to be more radical than the cores of their respective parties.

This system favors the bombastic. It favors the angry candidate. It favors those outside of the mainstream. In short, it is a system that denies formal political parties a proper machination against extremes. Our primary system works in Donald Trump’s favor.

Michael Adkins is the former chair of the Hancock County Democratic Party. He lives in Greenfield.