In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the albatross was considered a sign of good tidings. It followed the ship in the story until the mariner shot it with a crossbow. Metaphorically, it was placed on his neck as a reminder of his sin that turned good tidings into bad ones. “Instead of the cross, the Albatross about my neck was hung.”
Donald Trump is the albatross for the GOP. His entry into the Republican Presidential race was a good tiding at first. It signaled that despite a diverse field of contenders, the same tired rhetoric was still being espoused by most. He changed the conversation. He brought old ideas of fighting illegal immigration with deportations and walls back into the conversation. He highlighted the faults of the “Establishment” when so many candidates were squarely embedded within it. He went “extreme” with his views on fighting terrorism, causing many in and out of the party to realize that the existential threat of radical Islamic terrorism needs to be handled with harsh measures.
In essence, Trump was the flying albatross, the symbolic harbinger that acted as a wakeup call to the Republican party. Unfortunately, Trump isn’t just the albatross. He’s also the man wielding the crossbow who is shooting himself out of the sky. By taking good ideas and tainting them with messages of ignorance and often hate, Trump has become the representation of the ugliest parts of conservatism. To make matters worse, he’s shifted his views to be more liberal as he is wont to do and the result is what we have today. Trump is now the fallen albatross that is being hung around the neck of the Republican party.
As it becomes more likely that Ted Cruz will be the nominee, the Democrats are trying to tie Trump to him. They are comparing the ideas of Trump and Cruz and declaring that Trump is the true representative of what Republicanism embodies. Their hopes of a Trump nomination are fading, so they don’t want to waste the negatives that he brings to the general election. If they can convince voters that Trump will be a part of the party one way or another, they’ll be able to take advantage of the concern that voters have regarding his influence. Even if he’s not the nominee, the Democrats want him to be the face of their opposition.
It’s time for Republicans to wipe the slate as clean as possible as it pertains to Trump. Some suggested that he was a shill for Hillary Clinton bent on wreaking havoc in the Republican race to ensure her general election victory. I’m not one who currently believes that conspiracy theory, but the only difference between it and apparent reality is motivation. Whether intentionally or not, Trump’s increasing attachment to the party of Lincoln and Reagan is souring voters who don’t like Clinton but who may be too scared to vote against her if Trump is either the nominee or the surrogate of the party.
A clear message must be sent in every primary going forward: Trump is not an example of what the Republican party represents. In primaries he can win, he must do so by a small margin. In primaries that he loses, he must lose big. To keep Clinton out of the White House, Republicans must coalesce around Ted Cruz. Every single vote counts going.