Has Emotionalism Taken Over Republican Voters?

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on May 9, 2016

As a supporter of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, it was difficult to not feel as if I were a Cubs fan on Tuesday night as the results of the Indiana primary election were announced. While Cubs fans have waited generations for their team to win the World Series, each loss that resulted in their elimination from the playoffs stung a little more as the years went by.

Every four years – every presidential election year – I hoped that a candidate from at least one of the two usual political parties would run for the nomination who would acknowledge his or her possible future oath of office, especially to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Obviously, I also hoped that such a candidate would win a nomination, and ultimately, that presidential election.

This year, I felt as if I would finally have a chance to vote for such a candidate in November. However, it seems as if Senator Cruz had been successfully labeled an establishment candidate who is a part of the problem that is politics.

Despite his actions that indicate that he is far from an establishment puppet, this primary run may be remembered as the election in which voters, even many who usually vote out of reason, voted out of emotion.

There is no question that Mr. Trump is one of the most successful self-promoters of the modern telecommunications age. In order to learn this skill, he turned to who may be the inventor of modern self-promotion: World Wrestling Entertainment founder, Vince McMahon.

While comparing Mr. Trump’s ability to turn a primary campaign run into a wrestling extravaganza, I failed to recognize just how he was able to turn many of his followers who usually place logic above emotion when selecting a candidate, into making emotion the most important factor, that is until I remembered the name of a somewhat popular, yet somewhat forgotten self-promoter from the not-too-distant past.

In the mid-eighties, there was a disc jockey on WMAQ-AM who also doubled as a talk show host on that station, as it slowly converted from a country music station, to being a news and talk station; that disc jockey was Morton Downey Jr.

After leaving WMAQ, there was a period of time when he was forgotten, that is until WOR-TV in New York aired the Morton Downey Jr. Show nationwide via cable TV.

The Morton Downey Jr. Show was at the height of its popularity during the George H.W. Bush administration. At this time, people still remembered President Ronald Reagan’s years in office, and during the 1988 presidential campaign, then-candidate Bush campaigned as someone who would continue the work of President Reagan. Unfortunately, the bait-and-switch tactic of President George H.W. Bush left conservatives alienated.

Using his show to capitalize on the frustrations of young, male Republican/conservative adults who felt betrayed by not only George Bush, but politics as a whole, Mr. Downey used politics to successfully harvest emotional outbursts from young adults in his audience in order to create some fascinating moments in television history where emotions replaced logic in debating politics on the right side of the aisle.

Whereas Senator Cruz tried to reason with voters as to how and why he was the most qualified candidate from a constitutional perspective, Mr. Trump utilized the anger and frustration from voters in a manner that Mr. Downey would have approved of. And in the process, Mr. Trump proved that voters’ misinterpretation of emotion as reason isn’t just a flaw that is found in Democrat voters. In fact, Mr. Trump also showed us that given how they had been exploited by the party that they’d supported for so long, Republican voters are vulnerable to voting out of spite or anger, without perceiving possible long-range repercussions.

No, the world will not end with the nomination of Donald Trump. Such a scenario was predicted with both elections of Bill Clinton, both elections of George W. Bush, and both elections of Barack Obama. The world didn’t end, but the U.S. and her citizens had to endure political and crony capitalist exploitation.

However, regardless of the candidates, every new election is the most important election in the history of our Republic. The 2016 elections were more important than those in 2014 and 2012. And, the 2018 elections will be more important than those in 2016, but not as important as those that will be held in 2020.

People who voted for Mr. Trump claim to want what people who voted for Senator Cruz want: a president who is independent from both parties, a president who will act as a true public servant at minimum, a statesman at best.

While Democrats perceive Democrat politicians as having a god-like stature, supporters of Donald Trump use their assumptions of how he would govern to perceive him not as god-like, but more like the Great Pumpkin.

Unfortunately, the people who voted for Donald Trump weren’t the only people who acted out of emotion instead of reason. When trying to “convince” people to vote for a candidate other than Senator Cruz, or Mr. Trump, such as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, that other guy who also dropped out the same day that Senator Cruz did, or Jeb Bush, professional Republicans, Republican strategists, and the cheerleaders of professional Republicans in the media chose to ridicule the supporters of those two men, instead of make logical arguments for their chosen candidate(s).

When their intelligence is questioned by self-anointed political elitists, voters will find more reason to vote for their candidate, and this election more than proved it.

For several months, I did not listen to Charlie Sykes’ talk show on WTMJ-AM, since he was either discussing Donald Trump, or as he calls his supporters “Trumpkins” every time that I tried to listen to his show. Perhaps if Republican talk show hosts and Republican strategists discussed reasons to vote for their candidates, instead of alienating needed voters, then perhaps this primary season would look completely different.

However, Mr. Trump has been leaving several clues for Republicans to defeat him, such as border security, illegal alien-related crime, and the return of manufacturing jobs to the U.S. Unfortunately, just like Blockbuster video in its final days, the GOP wanted to prove that the cure for its ills really isn’t the cure for its ills, so its leaders hoped that making itself more sick would lead to it becoming better.

Between now and November expect the GOP to switch from contempt to hypocrisy when trying to purge itself of one Donald Trump. Whenever a liberal would run as a Republican, such as Mark Kirk in Illinois, GOP leaders would tell voters to not only support him — despite the fact that he sides with Democrats more than Republicans — but those people would also tell voters that a third-party vote is a wasted vote. Somehow, Republicans are ignoring that advice when planning on how to purge Mr. Trump from contention in the presidential race.

With the November election being much closer than it appears to be, keep in mind that the leaders of the Republican party would rather lose elections than lose control of what they believe is their party, even if it means giving this upcoming election to Hillary Clinton.

As for those who voted for Donald Trump, I am aware of your frustrations with what is happening within politics on the local, state, and especially the federal levels. However, for a lesson as to why it is important to analyze the repercussions of unconditionally supporting a candidate, read about the campaigns of Janice Hart, and Mark Fairchild in 1986.

Professional Republicans had chosen to lose this game. Now, we are the ones who have to leave the proverbial ballpark with the familiar feeling of defeat.

Share if you are saddened to see emotionalism replace rational thinking in so much of this primary season.

Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for uncommonshow.com