Still reeling from consecutive losses in the contest for the White House, the Republicans are setting themselves up for a third consecutive defeat. That dismal reality for the GOP has the face of Donald Trump all over it. #hocopolitics
|Donald Trump rails against 'political correctness'
Back in August when Trump-mania started to take hold, I opined how his candidacy would affect the rest of the race up until the first votes for the caucuses and primaries are cast in February 2016. Few thought that Trump and his blustery showmanship will prevail and he would vanish like other flavors-of-the-month have done previously. I said then and I will repeat: Trump is not going anywhere voluntarily unless he can get knocked off the pedestal he has stood since he first announced his candidacy.Political numbers guru Nate Silver noted that only 25 percent of the country identify as Republicans while Trump has garnered merely 25 percent of GOP voters (enough to currently top the leader board). Silver’s inference is that Trump is not making sufficient inroads to worry Dems in the general election. Should Trump be the nominee, he will muster far more than the 25 percent currently supporting him as most Republicans will galvanize behind him in the hope of defeating Hillary Clinton.
The Republicans are indeed worried, however, and with good reason. This is due to the horrific possibility that Trump may end up being the party’s standard-bearer.
The so-called base is fed up with the GOP that put forth John McCain whose inability to articulate a solution to an economic crisis without threatening to bomb a country and Mitt Romney whose opulence created a narrative that he is out of touch with ordinary Americans. These nominees lost to an African-American with little Senate experience, who had alleged ties to some questionable figures and whose place of birth was constantly questioned. And they did so twice.Republicans, especially in the House and Senate, were so ticked at these outcomes that they would go way out of the way to derail as much of President Obama’s agenda. Though many of these lame efforts, such as repealing the Affordable Care Act over 40 times and shutting down the federal government reflected the GOP’s petulance, Obama’s creativity and the use of executive orders—a tactic that had been employed by presidents of both parties in the past—enabled him to secure significant accomplishments for the country and his legacy.
Following Romney’s defeat, the Republican establishment performed an “autopsy” in an effort to end the two-cycle presidential defeats. They surmised that for the Republican Party to regain control of the federal government, they will have to broaden their reach, recognize the changing demographics and expand their base outside the tea party crowd.To do so would mean the party would have to woo African-Americans, Latinos and women and would, in the process, gain much needed independent voters who comprise the fastest growing bloc. This would certainly serve the Republicans well in swing states.
Not so fast: Donald Trump is single-handedly undermining that effort in a big and loud way. Starting off with his assault on Mexicans as rapists, his determination to build a “nice” wall at the Mexican government’s expense and deport over 11 million undocumented immigrants, he turned off Hispanics big time. Trump’s misogynous verbal shots at Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly and his adolescent barb directed at Carly Fiorina’s face certainly didn’t help with women.Trump’s call for surveillance of Syrian refugees and certain mosques and a national registry of Syrian refugees. Adding to that was his blatant lie that he witnessed thousands of Muslims in Jersey City rejoicing at the attacks on 9/11. This anti-Muslim rhetoric likely failed to win over independents.
Then there was the recent incident in Birmingham, Ala. in which a Black Lives Matter protester was roughed up and forcibly ejected from a Trump rally and the candidate going on record supporting such actions. African-Americans thinking about joining the GOP now? Highly unlikely.With all these episodes and likely more on the way, the GOP establishment is squirming big time. Trump’s supporters who have kept him on top in the polls except for a brief love affair with Dr. Carson, consist of the angry folks who adore Trump’s bullying style.
My guess is that most of his supporters prefer that the U.S. be a Christian country consisting solely of white, native-born, non-Hispanic, heterosexual, anti-refugee, gun-toting, pro-life but at the same time pro-death penalty, misogynistic, climate change deniers, and military hawks who either have not served in the armed forces or would oppose a draft to force their sons and daughters into combat. They intently hate Obama and deny his record of accomplishments. Trump answers their bell.The trouble is, the above profile could match most of the GOP contenders’ core supporters. It explains, perhaps, that Trump’s rivals are loath to criticize him forcefully lest they be on the receiving end of his flame-throwing. He won’t hesitate to unleash his venom. Ask Ben Carson.
This approach is effective for primaries but suicidal for the general. Democrats should use Trump’s bombast whether he is the ultimate nominee or not. By Trump’s rivals’ relative silence in criticizing him (except for a recent Kasich commercial), Democratic strategists should use Trump’s words and paint the whole Republican Party with them. Their silence equals acquiescence.Right now, Trump is the Republicans’ biggest nightmare and no one in the party knows how to deal with it.