Not all collaborations are created equal.
When Run-DMC and Aerosmith came together to make “Walk This Way” in 1984, it transformed rap and rock worlds for the better. When Jay Z and R. Kelly started their Best of Both Worlds tour in 2004, it seemed like a good idea at the time, even if it crashed terribly. When Brad Paisley and LL Cool J got together for “Accidental Racist” in 2013, we were pretty sure neither of them had any idea what they were doing.
On Monday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced they’re going to make political music together and collaborate to stop Donald Trump from winning the Republican presidential nomination. This is a bad idea, this is R. Kelly and Justin Bieber bad, and it’s a sign that not only is the Republican nomination race over, but none of these candidates ever really understood what the audience wanted.
Monday, a team of Kasich and Cruz managers, pollsters and strategists announced that the two campaigns would be coordinatingefforts to keep Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the Republican nomination this summer. Trump has 845 delegates, Ted Cruz has 559 and Kasich has 148 (still fewer delegates than Marco Rubio, who dropped out weeks ago). To make this dream collaboration a reality, the Kasich campaign will supposedly stand down for the upcoming Indiana primary, where Cruz has a chance to beat Trump, and the Cruz campaign will stand down in Oregon and New Mexico, where Kasich is seen as having a better chance of beating Trump. The idea is that while individually they can’t take down Trump, working together, Kasich and Cruz can peel off enough delegates in the next few weeks to stop Trump. The problem is, this idea sounded so much better in studio than it does on the election stage.
On a practical level, the team-up is already showing fractures. Kasich and Cruz never met personally to discuss this plan, and while it’s unlikely that their campaign teams conceived of this plan without the candidate’s knowledge, without so much as a handshake, it’s hard to believe that either man’s heart is really in the deal. Less than 15 seconds after the arrangement was announced, Kasich told the press that he’d still hold a fundraiser in Indiana and he wouldn’t tell his supporters directly to vote for Cruz. And while Cruz has publicly said he’s happy about the plan, a super PAC supporting Cruz will still be running anti-Kasich ads in the state just to make sure. Meanwhile Trump is playing his fiddle while the Republican establishment burns.
The collusion between his two opponents feeds into the same old song that Trump has been singing for months: that the Republican establishment is trying to rig the primary to keep him out, denying voters their rights in the process. However, it’s really worse than that. Kasich and Cruz aren’t really politically harmonizing at all; it’s a cynical and transparent stunt to retain relevance for fading stars of the Republican Party. Think Madonna kissing Drake, or Madonna kissing Brittney Spears, or Madonna kissing … . You get the point. Stunts didn’t save the Material Girl and they won’t save Cruz and Kasich either. There are already reports out of Indiana that Republican primary voters don’t like the sound of this Kasich/Cruz collabo and are planning to vote Trump out of protest.
Occasionally a team-up will work, like when the mentor and the mentee get together we get Jay Z and Kanye or Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Or perhaps one star teams up with another to rehabilitate their image, like Elton John with Eminem or T.D. Jakes rolling with George W. Bush. But these arrangements only work when they’re authentic, and focused on making the individuals better, not as an attempt to stop someone else.
I don’t think anyone would’ve bought Watch the Throne if they knew it was an attempt to knock Drake off the charts, and Republican voters aren’t going to be compelled buy this Kasich/Cruz gambit to stop Trump either. It is not Trump’s fault that 43 states into the primary and no one is listening to the GOP establishment. Maybe they need to get back in the studio and work on some better campaign tracks that people want to hear before they try to snatch the mic out of Donald Trump’s hands.
This article originally appeared online at The Root.