Neither Donald Trump nor Ben Carson will be president of the United States. Having observed political campaigns actively since 1988, neither campaign has the connections, opinion leader support or organizational abilities to win the nomination. But they are candidates who can throw a wrench in the process.
Trump and Carson exist as candidates because Americans no longer trust Washington and because Republicans, in particular, no longer trust the Republican Party. Republicans have seen Republican leaders time and time again say they would hold Barack Obama accountable on issues, only to punt. They have seen Republican leaders time and time again say they would repeal Obamacare, only to move the goal posts.
First, Republican leaders said they could do nothing with just the House of Representatives. They needed the Senate, too. The American people gave them the Senate. "But no," said the Republicans, "we need the White House, too." That is not what they said going into 2014, but it was their resolution at the end. Then they gave Obama a blank check to raise the debt ceiling into 2015. They refused to stand with Sen. Ted Cruz during the government shut down. They refused to stand with Sen. Rand Paul on wiretaps. The Republicans have, essentially, refused to stand at all.
Second, Republican leaders have become wedded to special interests. Most Americans realize that Washington no longer represents them. Washington pays attention to lobbyists from unions and the Chamber of Commerce. Major corporations can spend money more efficiently lobbying for loopholes for themselves against competitors in the tax code than they can by innovating. Small businesses are at a disadvantage. American moms see major corporations pushing Common Core and fear their children will just wind up becoming cogs in the wheels of a Fortune 500 company. They see Republicans as bought and paid for.
Third, Republicans in Washington now seem to think the problem with government is Democrats in charge of it and not government itself. They have thrown away the intellectual underpinnings of the Reagan Revolution and now just want power for the sake of having power.
The Republican failures have led to these candidacies. Trump is the disrespectful candidate for people who disrespect the process. He will be rude. He will be loud. He will be confrontational. And he will not get the nomination. But along the way, he will speak to the fears and hopes of a lot of people who no longer connect with Washington or trust the government to get it right.
For a lot of people who hate politicians who go to Washington to get rich off the system like Harry Reid, they can trust that Trump is already a billionaire and so he will not need to enrich himself off the treasury. Trump's campaign, like Carson's, makes no sense in an age when people respect Washington. But it makes a lot of sense in an age when people no longer think their vote matters, but they sure want the mess kicked out of all the politicians they blame for making their vote meaningless.
The people who no longer think they can win in America will side with candidates like Trump even though they don't think he can win, just to watch him strike the match and burn down all they feel betrayed them. They will side with Carson because they want a non-politician to become a politician hoping he will turn out better than careerists. And that, ironically, can give them staying power when coupled with money.
Trump and Carson are not future nominees. Their campaigns, objectively, do not have those things it takes to run a campaign across 50 states. They do not have the experienced consultants, they do not have the pundits who can help them generate free media attention, and they do not have the understanding of what it really takes to run a political campaign because they are not politicians and are not surrounded by people who can offset their lack of understanding.
But in an age when America distrusts Washington and Republicans hate Washington Republicans, Trump and Carson can cause heartburn. That will be enough for some.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.