We have a very serious political problem in this country. Our system of government works best when it is balanced between roughly equal political parties, one on the center-right and the other on the center-left.
Unfortunately, what we have is a centrist Democratic Party and a far-right Republican Party . Therefore, the system is out of balance, creating gridlock even as the public cries out for action on serious problems such as our deteriorating public infrastructure, epitomized by that in Flint, Michigan.
I believe that Republicans made a deal with the devil in 2009 when they embraced the Tea Party , a populist group who were just mad as hell and weren't going to take it anymore. In Congress , the Tea Party has been aggressive in destroying all the norms that made it work for more than 200 years.
The government was shut down, increases in the debt limit are constantly at risk, nominations to even the most minor administration positions are blocked and, now, the president has been denied the opportunity, which is his right under the Constitution, to name a new justice to the Supreme Court .
Flush with such "victories," extremists of all shapes and sizes were attracted to the Tea Party ranks—Christian religious fanatics, gun nuts, anti-gay bigots, nativists opposed to all nonwhite immigrants, secessionists, conspiracy theorists and, of course, racists.
What binds them together is hatred. Hatred of government, yes, but also hatred of liberals, minorities, homosexuals, non-fundamentalist Christians, environmentalists, feminists, and many other groups.
Donald Trump , to his credit, figured this out instinctively and pandered to it brilliantly. He channeled the anger and hatred of many whites on the fringes of the economy and society who blame "others" for stagnant wages and other real problems that Republican gridlock in Washington has prevented legislative action on.
Trump understood that these people didn't so much want solutions to these problems as someone in power to acknowledge their existence and give voice to their frustrations.
Nature abhors a vacuum and also abhors gridlock. Gridlock, in turn, creates fertile soil for fascism—the simplistic desire to get stuff done, much of which does need to get done—regardless of the political cost.
Trump taps into this desire very, very well with his long and carefully developed persona as a brilliant businessman who gets things done. He was perfectly positioned to capitalize on the true populist nature of the Tea Party, which cannot be easily characterized as either right or left in terms of policy.
Trump offers them a mishmash of left and right policies—attacks on the war in Iraq and promises of new public infrastructure for the left along with right-wing favorites such as big tax cuts and a wall across the Mexican border.
Trump's opponents never figured him out and now it is too late as he is poised to win the Republican nomination. Many in the Republican establishment are horrified, fearing that he will lead the party to a historic defeat in November. I agree with their fears and that is why I voted for Trump in my state's primary on Super Tuesday.
I believe that only when the GOP suffers a massive defeat will it purge itself of the crazies and forces of intolerance that have taken control of it. Then, and only then, can the GOP become a center-right governing party that deserves to occupy the White House.
The death of today's Republican Party is, therefore, necessary to its survival, in my opinion. And Donald Trump can make it happen, which is why I voted for him.
Commentary by Bruce Bartlett, who served as domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a Treasury Department official under George H.W.Bush. He also worked on Capitol Hill for the late Rep. Jack Kemp. He is now a writer living in Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @BruceBartlett.
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