Perhaps the most unusual primary election in modern U.S. history is over a month in advance. On a May evening in Indiana, the unthinkable happened — or at least something no one could imagine a few months ago. The party of Lincoln (which a century ago became the party of capitalism and the American conservative right) has been conquered by a populist revolt fired up by a building speculator, the arrogant reality TV star.
Donald Trump is a post-Berlusconi figure who has improbably scaled the heights of a political party fallen victim to a profound identity crisis, a party establishment that is running on empty, which over the Obama years, despite enjoying a majority in Congress, has been able to express only a sterile, dull filibuster and sow exasperation among its voters.
After yet another setback, Ted Cruz, the last plausible opponent to Trump and survivor of a group which once included 17 contenders, threw in the towel. His surprise announcement on Tuesday (“it appears [a viable path to victory] has been foreclosed”) paved the way for Trump’s coronation. His forfeit was followed Wednesday, inevitably, by that of John Kasich, the ineffective champion of the moderate old guard.