Sunday, July 26, 2015
Republicans have no one to blame for Trump except themselves
Casey Stengel, when he first began coaching the Mets, and they were losing big, said: “You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, can’t anybody here play this game?”
That’s what I want to say to the Republican bench as they face the Trump phenomenon. Based on current polls Trump would lose the general election if he got the nomination because his negatives are sky high. Yet polls tell us he’s the most popular candidate with the base of the Republican party. And the reason is blazingly obvious: he’s not afraid to embrace politically incorrect positions on illegal immigration, he promises the return of the American Dream, and he attacks the Democrat press with glee.
He’s not going to get the Republican nomination because Republican Party activists are not going to support him. Which makes me wonder why the Republican bench lacks the smarts to shut up and stop attacking him. Trump’s popularity among the public – especially the Republican public – has nothing to do with Trump as a person. He’s best known as a real estate developer, a shameless self-promoter with a series of trophy wives. He has a history of supporting liberal programs and liberal politicians plus he’s braggadocios, egotistical and arrogant.
Trump-the-man is not leading in the polls; it’s Trump-the-idea that is getting support. Here’s his idea in a nutshell: the problem with America is its government, not its people. His message embodies the spirit of America even as his persona is off-putting. Ronald Reagan said “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." In a way, Trump-the-message is Reagan without Reagan’s amiability.
That’s why McCain’s attack on Trump’s supporters as “crazies” backfired. People don’t think that unlimited immigration of poor people, many of whom are welfare cases, criminals or unskilled laborers taking American jobs is a good idea. And when Trump backhanded McCain on his hero status he wasn’t “destroyed” like the conventional wisdom said he would be. And it’s why Rubio, Perry, Jeb and others, who misunderstand the Trump phenomenon, didn’t help themselves.
It was not wise for one of Walker’s supporter to refer to Trump as a “dumdum” because it gave Trump an excuse to counter-attack, something that Trump does with glee.
If the people you want to woo are the ones who like Trump’s ideas you don’t attack the man who articulates those ideas; you embrace them. Ted Cruz is the only one on the Republican bench who seems to understand that. He stood on the floor of the Senate and called Senator McConnell a liar. That resonates.
In flyover country people are wondering why the Republicans are not doing the things they promised to get elected. They are ready to believe that the Republican establishment doesn’t care about the middle class, and they don’t want the Democrats’ charity.
They’ve seen good paying jobs in Appalachian coal mines become casualties of the president’s war on coal. They’ve lost solid, middle class work on the oil rigs of the Gulf to a president more obsessed with tomorrow’s temperatures than today’s families. And they’ve bid goodbye to Midwestern factory jobs while the president saddles employers with oppressive taxes and regulations.They’re the autoworkers whose fathers punched in at $30 an hour, and they’re trying to get by on a $15 hourly wage. They’re the legion of middle class workers who once had employer-provided health insurance, but now have to pay for most of their medical costs themselves.
They went to the polls and elected Republicans. But instead of good jobs they find the Republican establishment supporting an Obama trade deal that will ship more jobs overseas. They hear Jeb and Rubio talk about “comprehensive immigration reform” and know that it’s all about cheap Mexican labor taking their jobs. They were promised an end to ObamaCare but found that the Republican establishment was fine with funding it. They like their guns and their religion but find that Republican appointees to the Supreme Court think they’re bigots and yahoos who had better get their head straight and bake cakes for gay weddings.
So whose fault is it that a billionaire who gave more money to Democrats than Republicans now leads in the polls? You can only screw the people so many times before they get wise. The Democrats have managed to do that to their Black base for over half a century. It appears that the white, non-college working class Republican base is wising up faster.
If Republicans find themselves stymied by a billionaire huckster who many view as a stalking horse for a Hillary Presidency they have no one to blame but themselves.