While watching this cycle’s seemingly endless stream of GOP debates, I’m often reminded of the American cinematic masterpiece, Billy Madison. In the Adam Sandler comedy, the titular hero is a bumbling idiot who needs to pass a series of basic educational requirements in order to inherit his father’s Fortune 500 Company. The climactic scene stands out to me in particular: during a Jeopardy styled competition, Billy must answer a key question in order to defeat the other competitor and claim his inheritance. Billy’s answer is followed by a thunderous applause from the audience but is immediately responded to by the incredulous moderator: “What you’ve just said is the most insanely idiotic thing I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought,” he continues, “I award you no points.”
Coming back to my analogy with the presidential race, the extremely charismatic character of Billy represents Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE while the dumbfounded moderator represents the Republican Party establishment – completely caught in disbelief at the lunacy of the candidate. But here’s the kicker: Billy wins. While the competition is clearly more experienced and more qualified for the coveted position, his inability to defeat a seemingly easy target forces the moderator to grant the fool the victory. But this is where the comedy ends.
Instead of Adam Sandler’s lovable idiot who gets himself into hilarious antics, Trump is a thin-skinned demagogue with a penchant for personally insulting those who are remotely critical of him. Instead of making low-brow fart jokes, he seems to continuously grow his support base by alienating more and more racial and religious demographics. And instead of vying for management of a fictional company, Trump is competing for the very real candidacy of an election Republicans can ill-afford to lose.
But alas, no matter how many pieces like this get published or how many analysts point out the complete practical and constitutional flaws in Trump’s proposals, his numbers won’t take a dent. Like Teflon, Trump has managed to deflect every controversy and every attack that would have crippled any other candidate. Why? Because Trump’s following isn’t based on policy, experience, or qualification. It’s based on noise, anger, and a complete misunderstanding of how the republic operates. Like a playground bully boasting about his physical strength over the other, smarter kids, Trump is never afraid to point out his high poll numbers whenever he comes under fire from any direction.
Well, Mr. Trump, since you and your supporters grant so much importance to the polls, allow me to point out RealClearPolitics’ aggregation of your head-to-head polls with the Democrats. Of the top three GOP candidates (Trump, Cruz, Rubio) Trump is the only one to lose to both Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions BBB threatens the role of parents in raising — and educating — children MORE, and by significant margins. Meanwhile, Cruz narrowly edges out Clinton, and Rubio outright beats both of them. But again, this apparently doesn’t matter in this year’s race of the White House. In 2016, bluster trumps policy. Pun intended.
And so, as Iowa is mere days away, concerned Republicans will continue this charade and pretend Donald Trump will not be the party’s nominee. Because unless other candidates start dropping out and coalescing around a more qualified alternative, Trump will continue throwing the party into complete disarray and the Democrats will laugh their way back into the Oval Office.
The noise won’t stop. Trump will continue spouting about the southern wall that Mexico will pay for, continue advocating a ban on Muslim immigrants, continue claiming that his campaign is self-funded, and continue to be the poster boy of anti-Republican hatred. And, like the crowd of people that blindly cheered after Billy Madison’s asinine performance, we will all be dumber for having listened to it.
Jusuf is a recent graduate from Hamilton College majoring in Public Policy and Communications, now working in Washington, DC.