Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of months, you are undoubtedly aware of how Donald Trump has upset the apple cart when it comes to Republican politics.
Famously known for his "Art of the Deal" and the Apprentice's "your fired!" tagline, Trump is a master of self-promotion. He takes seriously American author Damon Runyon's statement, "He who tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted." Indeed, when it comes to trumpeting his achievements, none of the candidates has the capacity to out-trumpet Mr. Trump.
And unlike some of his real estate and entertainment ventures, Trump's tactics in the political arena are proving wildly successful. Since he has entered the Republican presidential race, Trump is topping the field, garnering over 30% of the voters support according to the most recent polls. This, even after his boorish performance during Fox News' presidential debate last Thursday night. What's unclear is what these numbers actually mean.
Do 30% of Republican voters really think that Donald Trump would make a good president, or are they just sick and tired of politics as usual? Will his apparent lack of substance hurt him in the formidable Iowa caucuses or will his "shoot from the hip, tell it like it is, political correctness be damned" attitude be enough to sway voters to his cause? At this point all America can do it watch and wait to see if Trump can sustain his lead over the long haul.
In the meantime, the GOP has a big dilemma. Will it continue to cede center stage to an egomaniacal blowhard who deflects serious questions with hollow rhetoric and attacks his critics with insults and hyperbole, or will it have the temerity to end this embarrassing sideshow at the risk of alienating Trump's sizable support base?
While this may seem an easy choice, politics is rarely a simple affair. Donald Trump has proven to be a man who will mete out revenge upon his enemies without hesitation. He has publicly refused to rule out a third-party run in the event he is not the Republican nominee, meaning that his is willing to cede the election to presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton rather than put his support behind any of the other Republican candidates. In other words, The Donald has leverage, and he knows it. Does Reince Priebus have the gumption to call Trump's bluff at the risk of putting another Clinton in the White House?
Of course, regardless of what the Party decides to do, it is always possible that the other candidates will tire of Trump's theatrics and refuse to take the stage with him, but this tactic could easily backfire. The media loves high drama and Trump delivers it in spades. Any candidate that refuses to mix it up with The Donald runs the risk of finding themselves out in the proverbial cold, a place where no politician wants to be.
So for the time being, the status quo is likely to remain the same. And while the timid souls at the RNC dither, Mr. Trump will continue to swing his wrecking ball. Just how long can the GOP ride this tiger, though, before the damage is beyond repair? Politics most assuredly ain't beanbag, as the powers that be at the RNC are being reminded every day. If the GOP doesn't disavow his candidacy soon, they will be saddled with the notion that the inflammatory rhetoric of the leading GOP candidate is representative of the party itself. It's hard to imagine anyone more saddled with controversy and negative publicity than Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump just might test that notion.
The Iowa caucuses are six months away. The GOP and the American people have six months to cull through 17 candidates for the Republican ticket, and the longer Trump muddies the water, the faster these six months will fly. Cutting the head off of the political snake that is Donald Trump might be a risk, but it might be one worth taking if the GOP intends to wage a serious political battle for the White House. The sooner the political wheat is separated from the chaff, the better off everyone will be.