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Teflon Trump’s The One

Did you watch the GOP debate last night? I did, and there were distressingly few instances of penis-comparing or other tabloid moments. It was actually a sober exchange. It may well have been Marco Rubio’s best debate ever. He will probably make a good president one day, but not this time. If that Rubio had been present at the New Hampshire debate instead of Robo-Rubio, we would probably be looking at a different scenario now. If, if, if. Ted Cruz was composed and articulate, but, as my boss tweeted last night:

Yes. Listening to Ted Cruz last night was like hearing the Ghost of Republicans Past through an ear trumpet. He is yesterday’s candidate.

Kasich was Kasich. People who like Kasich appreciate his non-ideological, commonsense moderation (relative to his opponents), but he’ll come out with things like criticizing the Europeans for not bringing Turkey into the EU, and you’ll do a double take. In any case, we won’t have to worry about him anymore. True, he might win his home state of Ohio — the latest poll has him pulling ahead of Trump — but if he pulls that off, that will be his first and last hoorah.

Trump was weirdly muted last night, and carried himself in a presidential way. He was either tired, or was determined not to let himself be baited, because he is confident he’s got this thing well in hand. This is not to say he was much good. This was the moment last night for me that reinforced my conviction that Trump cannot be trusted, [2] because he will say whatever comes to mind:

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump suggested at Thursday’s CNN Republican presidential debate in Miami that he would be willing to support a massive ground force to take on ISIS.

This is a shift for Trump, who has, as a presidential candidate, often portrayed himself as less hawkish than his Republican opponents.

Trump made the troop comment in response to a moderator’s question as to whether he would follow a military commander’s advice to increase the number of ground troops to fight the terrorist group.

“We really have no choice,” Trump said. “We have to knock out ISIS. We have to knock the hell out of them. We have to get rid of it and then we have to come back here and rebuild our country, which is falling apart.”

Radio host Hugh Hewitt pressed on specific numbers.

“I would listen to the generals,” Trump said, “but I would – I’m hearing numbers of 20 to 30,000. We have to knock them out fast.”

More ground war in the Middle East. How, exactly, is Trump different from his opponents on foreign policy?

Nevertheless, it was hard last night to reach the end of the event without resigning yourself to the likelihood that Trump is going to be the nominee. Was for me, anyway. It was a status quo debate. None of his three opponents really took the fight to Trump. Cruz does seem like the natural alternative to Trump now, but it’s difficult to imagine people who aren’t already the hardest of the hardcore conservative ideologues voting for him with any enthusiasm, other than a desire to stop Trump. I doubt it will be sufficient. But I could be wrong. Everybody has been wrong a lot this crazy election year.

One of the most fascinating dynamics has been Trump’s invincibility, in specific his inability to harm himself. He came across last night as somebody who doesn’t know his material. He often does; he is all about attitude. He flip-flops — on Mideast war, on H1Bs, etc. And yet … it doesn’t matter. I think there is in many Trump voters such a deep and abiding desire to punish the Republican Party that they don’t care. I received a long, thoughtful e-mail yesterday from a lifelong conservative that articulated a lot of what I feel. He asked me not to publish the e-mail, and I’ll honor that. But let me say that he offered a detailed history of what he regards as the long sellout by the Republican Party of social conservatives, in particular on the philosophical issue of defending the common good for all Americans, not just the investors and business leadership class. Whatever his imperfections, Trump is mostly hated by professional Republicans and Democrats because he stands for the idea that US foreign policy, economic policy, and immigration policy ought to be run in the interests of the American people, not some abstract ideal of trade globalism, internationalism, or the interests of multinational corporations and minority-group lobbies.

And I keep hearing from readers — conservative Republicans! — who say that if Trump does nothing else, the fact that he has smashed the Republican Party is an admirable achievement. They’ll get no argument from me on that one, for sure. The panic and misery of Conservatism, Inc., is a pleasure.

It is interesting to contemplate why the GOP apparatus has come to be so hated by so many conservatives. Pete Wehner writes Reaganism’s obituary [3], in what is one of the first honest reckonings I’ve seen from within GOP elite circles about what has happened, and why. Excerpts:

Trump’s attempt at a hostile takeover is not a thunderclap on a cloudless day. It was years in the making. And when the mantle worn by Reagan might be settling on the likes of Trump, this end-of-an-era moment demands that we reflect on what has happened to our Republican Party.

For those of us open to such self-examination–to understanding what conditions gave rise to Trump and Trumpism–the explanation starts with certain harmful habits. These include employing apocalyptic rhetoric, like the assertion that America is on the verge of becoming Nazi Germany. Such reckless language is evidence of fevered and disordered minds and paves the way for Trump’s incendiary rhetoric.

But that’s hardly the whole of it. Republicans embraced the political knife-fighting tactics of Newt Gingrich in the 1990s and light-as-air political figures like Sarah Palin in the 2000s. Many Republicans–including self-proclaimed “constitutional conservatives”–began to speak of compromise as a synonym for capitulation, which is odd given that the Constitution itself was the result of a whole series of accommodations–and Reagan was a gifted compromiser. (In the debate over the Constitution, there was even a deal struck that came to be known as the Great Compromise, by which every state was to have two members in the U.S. Senate, offsetting proportional representation in the House.) Republicans became suspicious too of the “spirit of moderation” that James Madison argued is essential in understanding which measures are in the public good. What many modern Republicans are looking for is conflict, confrontation, the politics of the cage match.

At some point along the way, it became fashionable in the Republican Party–in some quarters, anyway–to replace reason with rage, to deny science when it was at odds with ideology and to cheer mindless stunts like shutting down the federal government rather than responsibly managing and relimiting it.

Voters are complicit in this too; many of them have come to confuse cruelty, vulgarity and bluster with strength and straight talk. And Republican lawmakers compounded a problem they had promised to solve, promoting rather than ending corporate welfare and crony capitalism.

Wehner goes on to say that the GOP lost touch with ordinary Americans, and had nothing to say to them to help them deal with the huge dislocations caused by the globalization that the Republican Party (and Clinton Democrats, it should be said) embraced and promoted. Read the whole thing. [3] It’s good — as far as it goes.

What’s conspicuously lacking in the piece is the Iraq War. Since Reagan, the GOP has enjoyed the trust of the American people as the party of national security. True, polls today show that the GOP has regained its lead [4] over the Democrats on national security — this, because of immediate fears of Islamic terrorism. Perhaps Republicans don’t think they need to worry about this — and, in the short term (that is, this fall’s election), they’re probably right. Voters have short memories.

It is incredible, though, that to this day, the Republican Party has been unable to have an honest reckoning with the massive failure of its leadership and its worldview regarding the Iraq War. I suppose I am a conservative outlier here, but until the GOP gives a sign of understanding what it got wrong in Iraq, and that it has learned from that catastrophe, I find it impossible to trust Republicans more than Democrats on foreign policy. For all his mistakes and shortcomings on foreign policy, President Obama has kept us out of another land war — one that President McCain or President Romney would have been more likely to bumble into.

After last night’s debate, we have little reason to think that President Trump won’t march us into another war. We know, though, that his opponents are staffed up with the same GOP foreign policy thinkers who got us into Iraq. Trump doesn’t really know who his foreign policy advisers are, and I suppose there’s cause to hope that he will bring some realists onto his team. But you have to be wary.

Still, Newsweek‘s Matthew Cooper is right: [5]

Saying “let’s not panic about Social Security” puts Trump closer to liberal economist Paul Krugman than Ted Cruz.

It’s this kind of busting ideological barriers has made Trump the leader. He’s broken with GOP policies on entitlements, on the individual mandate that was central to Obamacare and on trade. He’s not a liberal or a Democrat but he is charting new waters and given the total ossification of both parties, this kind of glasnost has to be welcomed.

The Democrats, meanwhile, are moving in lockstep to the left and had no place for former Virginia Senator James Webb, who had to drop out of the race. His more conservative positions on coal or his rare anti-Iraq War, anti-Iran deal position helped make him anathema.

Liberals keep saying that if conservatives are worried about the economy and economic fairness under the neoliberal consensus (of which Hillary Clinton is a part), then they ought to be voting for Bernie Sanders. The fact that they aren’t (the argument goes) indicates that they are, deep down, RACISTS. What they refuse to grasp is that there is nothing about Sanders that would restrict immigration or would stand up to political correctness. In fact, Sanders yielded to the Black Lives Matter protesters who seized his microphone in Seattle. He is a symbol of the weakness of liberal authorities in the face of left-wing illiberalism — and for Trump voters, that, rightly so, is a deal-breaker.

So, after last night, I believe that it’s going to be Trump. And remember, the kind of people who say Hillary will beat Trump handily are the kind of people who said for months and months that Trump was a joke candidate who had no chance of winning the GOP nomination.

I recall that after the 2006 election (or perhaps 2008), David Brooks wrote a column in which he predicted that America was in for a period of ideological instability as both parties grappled their way towards a new paradigm to replace the exhausted Reagan-era/Clinton Democrat consensus. Well, it looks like something new is emerging. Moments ago, I was on the phone with a young conservative friend who works in Washington politics, a guy who is appalled by Trump, but who says the best thing about Trump is that finally, someone has torn down the high institutional walls within the GOP that prevented discussion of genuine, substantive conservative reform. The party, he said, resolutely refused to learn from its defeats. Now, reform is being forced on them.

“After this, there’s no going back,” he said.

This is no bad thing. In fact, this is a very good thing. A very good thing. Even if Trump loses the nomination, or loses the fall election, there’s no going back to the stale, rigid Republican orthodoxies of the past 35 years.

Again: good.

 

88 Comments (Open | Close)

88 Comments To "Teflon Trump’s The One"

#1 Comment By Michael Guarino On March 11, 2016 @ 2:37 pm

Moments ago, I was on the phone with a young conservative friend who works in Washington politics, a guy who is appalled by Trump, but who says the best thing about Trump is that finally, someone has torn down the high institutional walls within the GOP that prevented discussion of genuine, substantive conservative reform. The party, he said, resolutely refused to learn from its defeats. Now, reform is being forced on them.

This, exactly this. The two biggest problems that we will face as a nation in the coming decades will be wage equilibriation with the much lower reservation wages and vast labor forces in the third world and potential destabilizing migration (which is a slow burning issue at the moment). Trump has breached those topics among Republicans too threatened by being called names to honestly account for the costs of inaction on those issues. Trump supporters voicing their disapproval is exactly the sort of referendum that is meant to inform policy makers of the popular interest.

The sort of commentators who simply revert to pulling out the random insult generator (10% chance of xenophobe, 30% chance of bigot, 60% chance of racist) are categorically failing at their democratic duties here. Anyone can clearly see that these policies are not in the interests of much of the population who actually have skin in the game. A reasonable compromise must be breached.

#2 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 11, 2016 @ 2:39 pm

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I don’t believe the American people are going to elect an unqualified demagogue to the presidency of the United States.

Well, no, but he looks good on a Republican field.

Thaddeus is right about Rubio.

Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics have different voting preferences…

Blacks have a common voting preference so long as they think the powers that be really are out to get them. Lift that lid, and they will rapidly diversify in many directions. It won’t be the conservative rout some have eagerly called upon, but it will be multiplex.

And his support for the Sandinastas in the 1980s is a little concerning…

Why?

#3 Comment By jnw On March 11, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

Hillary is the Democrats’ Mitt Romney. She clearly has severe likability/charisma issues and will have trouble inspiring the base.

Carson’s endorsement was huge for Trump – I’m sure Cruz wanted that one badly.

#4 Comment By JonF On March 11, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

Re: As of today, it looks to me like a Trump-Kasich ticket, but who knows what tomorrow may bring?

You and I agree on that. If Kasich wins in Ohio I think it will be certain, unless there’s some deep animosity between the two men that does not show up in public. The GOP badly needs to regain its Rust Belt appeal, and both Trump and Kasich in very separate ways have that, one appealing to voters the other would leave unenthusiastic.

#5 Comment By Dana Ames On March 11, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

“GOP front-runner Donald Trump suggested at Thursday’s CNN Republican presidential debate in Miami that he would be willing to support a massive ground force to take on ISIS.”

In this he is no different than the other Republicans – or Clinton, who is almost as hawkish. I can’t vote for any of them. I have a daughter and son-in-law in the military; son-in-law did one deployment in Iraq and THREE in Afghanistan, doing a very dangerous job. That he is still alive defies statistics. If Clinton or any of the Republicans gets elected, they will find me in DC (a cross-country trip for me) giving her/him and my Congressional representatives a big piece of this mother’s mind.

The Iraq “war” had nothing to do with keeping us safe; I believe it was mostly about Bush II needing to show up his father. Afghanistan might possibly have been worth the effort if we had stayed there and tracked down bin Laden in a short time. The way it ended up, with the expansion there and into Iraq, it most certainly was not. Our military personnel have paid too great a price, including those friends of my son-in-law, and others, lost to suicide. We are not the world’s police force.

Dana

#6 Comment By Steve in Ohio On March 11, 2016 @ 3:37 pm

I appreciate your tring to be fair to Trump despite your dislike for him. However, do you really believe that Rubio will someday be a good President? Yes, he is eloquent in defending the unborn, but does pro life stop at the water’s edge? Advocating tearing up the Iran deal on day one and his hyper hawkishness on every FP issue makes him a hopeless neocon. Cruz and Kasich are only marginally better. To paraphrase Churchill, Trump is the worst person running except for every other candidate.

#7 Comment By VikingLS On March 11, 2016 @ 3:40 pm

“As of today, it looks to me like a Trump-Kasich ticket, but who knows what tomorrow may bring? Both of them will attract Independent and blue-collar Democratic voters, and I think this ticket would win the general election.”

It might also bring in Ohio which Trump will need to win.

“So, after last night, I believe that it’s going to be Trump. And remember, the kind of people who say Hillary will beat Trump handily are the kind of people who said for months and months that Trump was a joke candidate who had no chance of winning the GOP nomination.”

Which seems in most cases not to have undermined their confidence in their own ability to predict the outcome of this election.

People don’t really seem to understand how serious the email issue is. Even if Clinton isn’t indicted the Trump campaign is going to be able to point out that the only reason Clinton isn’t under indictment and probably going to prison is that Obama’s DOJ simply won’t prosecute her.

Again that’s one set of rules for her, another set for everybody else.

Trump can also be the one who cries “the emperor wears no clothes!” on Clinton and point out that she’s where she is because she married and stayed married to Bill Clinton.

Were Trump running against almost any other Democrat, I would expect the Democrat to win, but Clinton is the perfect opponent for him.

#8 Comment By Matt On March 11, 2016 @ 3:41 pm

Rod,

Id love to hear your cogitations sometime on ISIS and what if anything the U.S. should do. I share your skepticism at more foreign wars. I absolutely oppose nation building, believing that entrenched culture will thwart our best intentions.

I always opposed the Iraq War, seeing Saddam as nasty but stable. Afghanistan I felt was necessary though I doubted much good would come of it.

But ISIS attacks us and Europe. ISIS is worse than Saddam. ISIS festers as Syria and Iraq are weak. No one needs recount how brutal they are and they are not content to simply exist as a state, they want to spread that brutality.

What should our role be?

I know that with the Middle East, things can always get worse, and that is demonstrated by the devolution from Saddam to ISIS. Do you believe doing nothing the best course of action here?

[NFR: Let Russia handle the military stuff on the ground. Provide massive refugee relief, but keep them out of Europe. Use special forces if we need to for particular missions, but no more Iraqs. — RD]

#9 Comment By VikingLS On March 11, 2016 @ 3:42 pm

“I suspect that Europe immigrant situation may become scintillating over this year.

Anyone care how that will affect the American presidential race?”

It would be good for Trump.

#10 Comment By Adam Rosenthal On March 11, 2016 @ 4:01 pm

“Even if Trump loses the nomination, or loses the fall election, there’s no going back to the stale, rigid Republican orthodoxies of the past 35 years.”

Even if he loses it to Cruz?

#11 Comment By Robert G On March 11, 2016 @ 4:16 pm

So let me get this straight. Win or lose Trump will cause destruction of the Republican party so that is good? And that a President Trump might cause a destruction of the United States is worth that price? I think so-called conservatives have lost their mind.

In simple words: a serial lying, cheating, philandering, narcissistic, vulgar scumbag with no morals, no values, and no political experience is going to result in anything good for anyone. No, he will not be able to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. No, he will not be able to magically bring jobs back. No, he will not magically best the Chinese. More likely, he is lost his damn mind over some perceived insult and start World War III. Wishing for a Trump Presidency to cure conservatism is like wishing for cancer to cure syphilis.

#12 Comment By Darth Thulhu On March 11, 2016 @ 4:33 pm

EngineerScotty wrote:

we might reach a point where Clinton plays Edwin Edwards to Trump’s David Duke

Trump isn’t David Duke, so please drop that fantasy right now. It isn’t going to help the Democrats come November.

Much like Nixon and Reagan, Trump appreciates the votes of the David Dukes, but he doesn’t actually have any supremacist fantasies himself. Latinos and Asians and Muslims will break for the Democrats, but they were going to do so anyway … and he’s willing to accept that as the price of being able to drive a wedge into the black vote as the General Election comes around.

Because that’s going to be part of his turn: reaching out to more constituencies that have been taken for granted and economically abused by a different Establishment and whipping many of them up with patriotic fervor and you’ve-been-Wronged fury. Blacks are on his list … and so are Independent and Democratic youths if Clinton gets coronated.

Trump can make Sanders-esque sounds in a few months, and he will if he’s up against Clinton. (He can also make Clinton-esque sounds if he’s up against Sanders, but a fight on actual policy grounds is weaker terrain for him.)

I seem to recall Siarlys, of all people, muttering aloud here that a vote for Hillary in the general may be necessary. (If I remember incorrectly, my apologies). Darth Thulhu is not to that point (yet)

Never going to happen. Never the incompetent, decades-long serial-warmonger. Never Clinton.

If Clinton is coronated by the Democrats, Trump may well manage to become the Edwards-over-Duke-equivalent to not be stuck in the middle of more-than-half-a-dozen Middle Eastern and African wars in perpetuity. Not likely, but possible.

If the Democrats want my vote, they can offer me Sanders. Otherwise, there’s plenty of 3rd parties who aren’t a vote for perpetual incompetent warfare, and even Trump looks possible to be a vote for less perpetual incompetent warfare … with a few gratuitous displays of wanton brutality.

#13 Comment By charles On March 11, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

I think that what comes with an election – especially when it is an election that could possibly trounce whoever the Democratic nominee is – is a sort of mandate from the people. And I think Trump would have a huge mandate for change that Republicans in the Congress would have to accept. Maybe this battle now is for the platform – I don’t know and I don’t especially care for whatever the establishment view of what the platform should be is – but if Trump is for real as a conservative he could most assuredly do something to begin immediately to solve big problems related to the budget, the deficit, ridding the bureaucracy of a couple of agencies and eliminating grants in aid to state to name a few. If the party would not go along with conservative proposals he would make, I think he could get re-elected easily and in that election there could be a turnover which would bring in Conservatives who would support conservative agenda items.

#14 Comment By Darth Thulhu On March 11, 2016 @ 4:38 pm

Bernie wrote:

As of today, it looks to me like a Trump-Kasich ticket

That’s been my prediction since New Hampshire. If Trump doesn’t need Kasich to arrange a majority of delegates (especially if he beats Kasich in Ohio), he might go elsewhere, but Kasich is first on the list.

Both of them will attract Independent and blue-collar Democratic voters, and I think this ticket would win the general election

In a heartbeat against Clinton. It’d be a harder slog against Sanders, but definitely possible.

If Trump has the delegates free and clear, and won Ohio on his own, he might drop Kasich for a different wedge VP (black, female, latino, gay, whatever), but his VP choice is going to be about maximizing the wedge value against the Democratic coalition.

#15 Comment By Eamus Catuli On March 11, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

It is self-contradictory to point out that the GOP has never reckoned with the Iraq disaster, but also that there will be “no going back” after the (likely) Trump disaster. Why wouldn’t the same defense mechanisms come into play there? Assuming Trump loses, it will be the easiest thing in the world to refuse a reckoning, to explain it all away as a one-time accident — an odd quirk of the schedule that allowed a plurality candidate to go on a tear through the early states, plus a failure of other candidates and the party establishment to gang up in time against an outsider who was never a “true conservative.” A few tweaks of the nominating and debate rules to make things harder for such a character next time, and you’re done.

Sad to say, but if you really want the GOP to change, you need to be rooting for Trump to win the presidency. That would give his movement some staying power. Anything less will just put you right back where you started.

#16 Comment By Lord Karth On March 11, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

Mr. Dreher quotes a Newsweek article as follows: “ He’s broken with GOP policies on entitlements, on the individual mandate that was central to Obamacare and on trade.”

This is -precisely- why I cannot and never will vote for Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump is overtly in favor of the very thing that will bring about the Meltdown.

I have a question for you, Mr. Dreher. You criticize the “stale, rigid Republican orthodoxies” of the post-Reagan era. What would you replace them with ?

More “programs” ?

Less lower-level autonomy for intermediating institutions ?

More government supervision of our lives ?

Criticize, if you must. But at least let us know what you would have take their place. I, for one, will listen to your proposals with the utmost respect—although I do not promise to agree with them.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#17 Comment By TTT On March 11, 2016 @ 5:53 pm

It should terrify Democrats that Hillary is beating Trump by only 6-8 points, and not by 20+. She has been in government for decades and has name brand recognition about equal to Pepsi. Her piddling lead will diminish quickly as soon as Trump starts paying attention to her.

#18 Comment By M_Young On March 11, 2016 @ 6:14 pm

“So let me get this straight. Win or lose Trump will cause destruction of the Republican party so that is good? And that a President Trump might cause a destruction of the United States is worth that price?”

Actually, that would be a bonus.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 11, 2016 @ 9:04 pm

Trump cut some kind of deal with Christie, and I would bet that the vice-presidential slot was key to that deal. Of course there is no reason to think Trump will keep his word, should he find it convenient to break it. He has what he needed from Christie, and there is no effective way for Christie to take it back.

My general position on Hillary is that if she is the Democratic nominee, I would vote for a sane and sensible Republican, but in the absence of such, would find a congenial third party vote. It is possible that Trump or Cruz heading the GOP ticket would induce me to vote for Hillary, but I’d rather not. I really, really, don’t want her to be elected president, ever, for all kinds of reasons we don’t need to enumerate all over again.

I’d much rather vote for Bernie Sanders, right wing though he is, and if the Democrats are paying attention, they will have noticed that he does better than Hillary against Trump, or Cruz.

M_Young seems to have recognized that “the white race” is never going to be a political force without first destroying the United States of America.

#20 Comment By Mark On March 11, 2016 @ 9:15 pm

So, Rod, you agree the GOP establishment is out of touch, but you think their number two (behind Jeb), Rubio, will make a good president some day? His positions on unfair trade and securing the border are going to change? Could be, but I doubt it. I don’t understand. Mark

[NFR: I think they could change. He’s young. The next four to eight years of American politics are going to require a lot of changing. I think he’s a smart guy and a gifted communicator. I hope that he changes his views. — RD]

#21 Comment By EngineerScotty On March 12, 2016 @ 12:18 am

Me: we might reach a point where Clinton plays Edwin Edwards to Trump’s David Duke

Darth: Trump isn’t David Duke, so please drop that fantasy right now. It isn’t going to help the Democrats come November.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting Trump is a neo-nazi. But as I noted in another thread (or maybe further up this one), Trump terrifies some people, whereas Clinton merely disgusts or annoys most of her detractors. Trump’s approval rating is so far underwater it may get the bends. Unless his strategy is to make this election so filthy that only the rabid partisans show up to vote, he’s got a lot of babies to kiss. Brownshirt tactics broadcast across the world, are not going to accomplish it.

Much like Nixon and Reagan, Trump appreciates the votes of the David Dukes, but he doesn’t actually have any supremacist fantasies himself. Latinos and Asians and Muslims will break for the Democrats, but they were going to do so anyway … and he’s willing to accept that as the price of being able to drive a wedge into the black vote as the General Election comes around.

I’ll agree that he personally is probably not a bigot–many have testified to that–but if he is going to drive a wedge in the black community–he’s going to need a big hammer. Given that much of the aforementioned brownshirt behavior has been aimed at blacks, and given his frequent birtherism the past several years–I doubt he’ll get much more of the black vote than the 7% or so the GOP usually gets.

Because that’s going to be part of his turn: reaching out to more constituencies that have been taken for granted and economically abused by a different Establishment and whipping many of them up with patriotic fervor and you’ve-been-Wronged fury. Blacks are on his list … and so are Independent and Democratic youths if Clinton gets coronated.

Well, given that Hillary now has non-token opposition to contend with, the term “coronation” might no longer be appropriate. She is having to earn the nomination, rather than having it being her sinecure, which is a good thing. (Unless, of couse, Sanders manages to win a majority of pledged delegates but loses on superdelegates–but if Sanders gets a majority of pledges, I expect the supers to flip, just like they did in 2008).

But you’ll notice that blacks have been slow to warm to Sanders, a candidate whose political resume and alliance with the interests of the black community is near-impeccable, and who has no history of antagonism to blacks. Perhaps Trump can pull this off, but unlike white voters who are pissed off at the GOP, blacks are far less angry at the Democratic establishment.

And if Trump does start lobbying hard for the black vote once the nomination is secured–especially if he advocates things like reining in out-of-control cops (policies which both Democrats whole-heartedly support), he might risk losing quite a bit of his current base.

Trump can make Sanders-esque sounds in a few months, and he will if he’s up against Clinton. (He can also make Clinton-esque sounds if he’s up against Sanders, but a fight on actual policy grounds is weaker terrain for him.)

I’m certain he can impersonate any politician you care to name. (Either Sanders or Hillary will wipe the floor with him in a policy debate, especially if there’s a moderator that doesn’t let him getting away with BSing his way through the questions). However, in the general he will be playing for a much tougher crowd, one who is not looking for a white knight to bring back what they think was unjustly taken from them.

Trump may also get Latinos to the polls in big numbers, to vote against him. That may be a big deal, as Latinos are often more stingy with their votes, viewing the Republicans with contempt but the Democrats with suspicion, and often choosing to stay home.

Me: I seem to recall Siarlys, of all people, muttering aloud here that a vote for Hillary in the general may be necessary. (If I remember incorrectly, my apologies). Darth Thulhu is not to that point (yet)

Darth: Never going to happen. Never the incompetent, decades-long serial-warmonger. Never Clinton.

If Clinton is coronated by the Democrats, Trump may well manage to become the Edwards-over-Duke-equivalent to not be stuck in the middle of more-than-half-a-dozen Middle Eastern and African wars in perpetuity. Not likely, but possible.

To be honest, a Trump foreign policy scares me more at this point than a Clinton foreign policy. (The baseline assumption is that she governs much like her husband did). Of course, so does a Cruz, Rubio, or Kasich foreign policy. Trump was calling for “boots on the ground” against ISIS the other day, and the mainline Republicans have all been calling for repudiation of the Iran deal. (And all of the major-party candidates have been seen kissing the ass of Israel–except, ironically, for the one who is Jewish).

If the Democrats want my vote, they can offer me Sanders. Otherwise, there’s plenty of 3rd parties who aren’t a vote for perpetual incompetent warfare, and even Trump looks possible to be a vote for less perpetual incompetent warfare … with a few gratuitous displays of wanton brutality.

Which is fine, of course. You may yet get your wish–Michigan was a surprise to everyone, although polling in the next round of big states on Tuesday also shows big leads for Hillary.

#22 Comment By Jim Emerson On March 12, 2016 @ 1:31 am

Conservatives believe in a strong social fabric and the public spaces (highways, bridges, data networks, parks, dams, infrastructure of all kinds) that benefit all Americans by supporting our economy and making it attractive to business. There are have been few conservatives in the Republican Party since Eisenhower. Privatization, deregulation and outsourcing of all facets of American life are not conservative values.

To state the obvious: A government CANNOT be run like a business for the simple reason that it isn’t one. (A multi-national corporation is a government-sanctioned entity that has the potential to be much more profitable than any legitimate government.) The goals, the Constitutional structure, the playing field and the real-world rules and laws of businesses and governments are dramatically different.

And “Every man for himself,” the core value of the G.O.P. from Reagan on, isn’t a conservative value; it’s a self-destructive delusion in which the “free marketplace” doesn’t really exist because it’s rigged and manipulated by the rich and powerful. Anyone who doesn’t understand that would not pass a basic U.S. citizenship test and should be deported to, say, Singapore, with a fabulous economy, spendy military, forcibly imported cheap labor and human rights controls (to keep speech, free sex, abortion, women, etc., from getting out of hand) that Vladimir Putin would envy.

#23 Comment By EngineerScotty On March 12, 2016 @ 1:41 am

Egads, I messed up the HTML in the last post. The paragraphs that start with “I’ll agree that he personally is probably not a bigot”, “Well, given that Hillary now has non-token opposition to contend with…”, ”
But you’ll notice that blacks have been slow to warm to Sanders…”, and “And if Trump does start lobbying hard for the black vote…” are my words, not Darth’s.

If Trump is to steal away Democratic votes, probably his best bet are pro-union, blue-collar whites–a group that is, in this cycle, largely behind Sanders. I don’t expect the AFL-CIO or other major labor organizations to touch Trump with a ten-foot pole, but there is a chance they might decline to endorse Hillary or the general. It’s a slim chance–if the AFL-CIO was that opposed to Clinton they probably would have endorsed Sanders by now (so far they have not endorsed either candidate; a reasonable suspicion is they prefer Sanders but expect Clinton, and will endorse her in the general) Given organized labor’s generally good relations with the Democratic Party, denying the party nominee the endorsement would be a Big Deal. And the endorsement of the leadership does still carry weight with the rank-and-file; Richard Trumka managed to drag a skeptical audience to the polls to vote for Obama eight years ago. How far he’d go to bat for Hillary, though, remains to be seen.

I do find it endlessly interesting that Hillary is attracting an entirely different set of voters in the Democratic primary this time around than in 2008.

#24 Comment By EngineerScotty On March 12, 2016 @ 5:27 am

One more comment before I head off to sleep. My prior two comments were made before I heard about this evening’s events in Chicago. I think tonight pretty much rules out the proposed Trumpian strategy of trying to play Latinos (or immigrants in general) against blacks, and thereby peeling off the black working class as part of a protectionist coalition (one that regards white and black Americans as equals, but immigrants as threas). While Trump may not have quite crossed the Rubicon on matters of race, he appears to be paying the ferryman as we speak.

It is starting to look like many of his critics might be right, and his campaign will take continue to take on a more nasty racial tone–pitting him, and the white working class (though he might not ever utter the word “white”) against the party of immigrants, minorities, and various sorts of pantywaist liberals. The campaign that Palin wanted to run in 2008, but McCain–bless his heart–kept a lid on. (And a campaign that Romney, as an establishment pol and a Mormon, was in no position to even attempt).

Would it work, if that is Trump’s game? Possibly–Democratic victories in quite a few swing states depend on left-leaning WCWs, a fair bit of whom are not terribly enamored with Hillary. She’s presently leading Trump in these states, often by margins similar to what Obama got. OTOH, many of these voters have heard this song and dance before–and voted nonetheless twice for Ocama, and are probably not going to be receptive to a candidate who makes overtly racist appeals. They might be moved by Trump running to Clinton’s left on economics–which I certainly expect him to try–but I think that will only be plausible if he moves to the center on racial issues. And if violence with predominantly-minority protesters continues at his rallies, regardless of who swings first, that will no longer be an option.

He may be running the campaign that Pat Buchanan has long wanted to run. The problem for such a campaign is that the demographics may have already shifted too much for that–millenials by large numbers despise Trump; and contra Cosimano in another thread, I doubt Trump won the general election with the Chicago protests tonight. Maybe Charles’ neighbors think so–racial anxieties have stoked parts of Wisconsin for some time–but assuming your local community is representative of America as a whole is a common error (and a big reason I come to TAC, to escape the Portlandia bubble. I know very few people personally who would go near Trump, and my social circle includes quite few white conservatives). If he’s not careful, brownshirt tactics may drive more voters into the arms of Hillary. Certainly they have not helped his general-election polling numbers of late; his net favoribility has gone down in the past week and both Democrats have expanded their leads over Trump in head-to-head polling.

#25 Comment By VikingLS On March 12, 2016 @ 11:02 am

“If he’s not careful, brownshirt tactics may drive more voters into the arms of Hillary.”

It was your side, not Trump, using intimidation and the threat of violence to get their way tonight. You keep this up and whatever moral high ground you all had is gone. Then its just a street fight.

Now the Republican establishment is going to be a lot more reluctant to oppose Trump. They don’t want to be seen as caving to the mob.

Then it just comes down to the electoral college and you’re going to have to hop more millenials come out to vote for the candidate that many of them will see as having stolen the nomination from their preferred candidate, than older people come out to vote for the guy who is addressing their concerns and playing off their fears.

You need to deal with reality, even if you don’t like it.

#26 Comment By Dr. Diprospan On March 12, 2016 @ 2:31 pm

Good article, Mr. Dreher.
Looking at what is happening in America, I am not surprised by the course of political processes. I consider them quite natural for different countries, because the fatigue and tiredness are natural for any human being. The human brain is trying every way to switch attention and action on something else to take a break from the monotony.
I remember the Soviet Union and I think that it did not collapse because it was bad or weak. It bored. People are just tired of waiting for communism. In first, dissidents became tired, then the intellectuals, then workers, then the military and finally KGB. After the gray monotonous years in anticipation of communism, Gorbachev came and declared perestroika (sort of evolution) and glasnost (publicity). The Soviet people greeted him enthusiastically, and then enthusiastically cursed. He was a Russian Obama. Then Gorbachev was replaced pushy, inflexible Boris Yeltsin and the latter managed to effectively destroy the USSR. He was Russian Donald Trump. People also warmly welcomed Boris Yeltsin, and then also fervently cursed, because they have become tired again. What people want to after a period of adventurism and voluntarism? Of course they want orderliness and a return to traditional values. Vladimir Putin, who was in the shadow of Boris Yeltsin for the time being (as the head of the Federal Security Service) like no other better fulfill the social order. So, I think the Conservatives should support Donald Trump. If you are still in doubt, take a look to the people who are still in the shadow of Trump. Advisor to US presidential candidate from the Republican Party, Donald Trump on cooperation with Russia is the former head of US intelligence, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a supporter of closer cooperation with Russia to address issues of international security, the sources told Reuters recently. This is no bad thing.
In fact, this is a very good thing.

#27 Comment By Carl Eric Scott On March 12, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

There’s plenty of good stuff in this post, but something about the tone feels off to me, and in a way representative of what’s most problematic about some of Rod’s long-standing patterns of political analysis. I try to explain over at NRO’s Postmodern Conservative, in a post titled “Rod Dreher, Trump-Analysis, and the GOP” [6]

#28 Comment By panda On March 12, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

“If Trump is to steal away Democratic votes, probably his best bet are pro-union, blue-collar whites–a group that is, in this cycle, largely behind Sanders. I don’t expect the AFL-CIO or other major labor organizations to touch Trump with a ten-foot pole, but there is a chance they might decline to endorse Hillary or the general. It’s a slim chance–if the AFL-CIO was that opposed to Clinton they probably would have endorsed Sanders by now (so far they have not endorsed either candidate; a reasonable suspicion is they prefer Sanders but expect Clinton, and will endorse her in the general) Given organized labor’s generally good relations with the Democratic Party, denying the party nominee the endorsement would be a Big Deal. And the endorsement of the leadership does still carry weight with the rank-and-file; Richard Trumka managed to drag a skeptical audience to the polls to vote for Obama eight years ago. How far he’d go to bat for Hillary, though, remains to be seen.

The AFL-CIO is already running ads against Trump and many of its largest constituent unions (Teachers, SEIU, UAW, endorsed Hillary).

#29 Comment By panda On March 12, 2016 @ 4:06 pm

” If he’s not careful, brownshirt tactics may drive more voters into the arms of Hillary. Certainly they have not helped his general-election polling numbers of late; his net favoribility has gone down in the past week and both Democrats have expanded their leads over Trump in head-to-head polling.”

The big tell in this regard is that Kasich, Rubio and even Cruz didn’t close ranks against Trump, but pointed out he is the one fanning the flames. This is rather unprecedented, and I think, strongly indicates that large elements of the GOP will not endorse Trump if he takes the nomination.

#30 Comment By EngineerScotty On March 12, 2016 @ 5:17 pm

It was your side, not Trump, using intimidation and the threat of violence to get their way tonight. You keep this up and whatever moral high ground you all had is gone. Then its just a street fight.

One problem with that line of argument–the protesters, AFAIK, aren’t officially associated with either campaign, though many of them appear to be Sanders’ supporters, and Trump has now [7]–though in fairness to Bern, nothing he has said in the campaign gives license to this.

Trump may well be hoping that the conduct of the activists in question, tars the Democratic nominee. So far, both Democratic campaigns have kept BLM at arms-length, and both have been themselves accosted by BLM activists.

But at this point, only one candidate for POTUS has been suggesting that violence at campaign events is acceptable–and it’s that same candidate’s own rallies where such violence occurs.

#31 Comment By E. Potson On March 12, 2016 @ 5:38 pm

EngineerScotty: It is starting to look like many of his critics might be right, and his campaign will take continue to take on a more nasty racial tone–pitting him, and the white working class (though he might not ever utter the word “white”) against the party of immigrants, minorities, and various sorts of pantywaist liberals. The campaign that Palin wanted to run in 2008, but McCain–bless his heart–kept a lid on. (And a campaign that Romney, as an establishment pol and a Mormon, was in no position to even attempt). Would it work, if that is Trump’s game?

I truly hate offering predictions about future political events, because it’s hard to prevent one’s preferences from entering the equation, and it’s even harder to convince others you haven’t done that. But, the short answer to your question is “No, it will not work.”

The Republican autopsy of the 2012 election lays out all of the reasons very cogently. I know there’s a tendency around these parts to believe the GOP establishment encourages outreach to Latinos because it wants a continued supply of cheap labor, it hates the WWC or some other far-fetched reason, but party executives exist to win political races, and that autopsy makes clear why Trump’s approach is a losing one. The GOP establishment opposes Trump’s nomination, first and foremost, because it fears he will lose badly and he will hurt Republicans down ticket.

Some Republicans have taken solace in Sam Trende’s theory of the Missing White Voter. Given the hardcore nativist element that is still influential within the GOP, an electoral strategy that relies on that theory will have substantial appeal among the base. However, Ruy Teixeira has written extensively on the fatal flaws in that theory.

See here for an updated assessment on why the Missing White Voter electoral strategy won’t succeed:

[8]

As for the notion that the events of the Chicago rally ensure Trump’s nomination and eventual election as President, I think one need look no further than the reactions from Rubio and Kasich to get a sense for how poorly this reflects on Trump among even his fellow Republicans.

[9]

Lastly, even if Trump doesn’t rely on the Missing White Voter theory, he still has no chance of attracting black voters by prioritizing their concerns at the expense of Latinos. Until recently, the guy was convinced the first black American President was illegitimately occupying the White House. He also has a history of racial discrimination against blacks, giving rise to a lawsuit by Nixon’s Dept. of Justice. Moreover, 70% of blacks favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The idea that blacks believe Trump is a racist, but they will be comforted by his intent to focus his racism only on Hispanics is a fantasy that exists only in the minds of Trump supporters.

#32 Comment By E. Potson On March 12, 2016 @ 7:56 pm

Carl Earl Scott,

I read your post at NRO. Thanks for referencing it here.

Rod can certainly defend himself, but I think it’s grossly unfair to hand-wave away his critiques of Republicanism (via his approval of Peter Wehner’s essay) by summarily calling those critiques “foolish and stale.” Wehner articulates the very same flaws in the GOP that many people (Republicans and Democrats) have observed for quite some time. For example, most people do believe the government shut downs were “mindless stunts.” So, too, the 40-odd votes to repeal Obamacare.

If you disagree with those critiques you should spend the energy to explain why Wehner and, by extension, Rod are wrong. Instead, you simply claim that Ted Cruz is best positioned to reform the GOP, but it’s not at all clear what types of reforms you believe are necessary. Obviously, you don’t believe the GOP needs the same kinds of reforms that Rod and Wehner believe it needs. It’s not even clear you think the GOP needs any reforms at all.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 12, 2016 @ 8:26 pm

It was your side, not Trump, using intimidation and the threat of violence to get their way tonight.

Who’s side? What are you talking about?

#34 Comment By VikingLS On March 12, 2016 @ 10:37 pm

@Siarlys you know what I’m talking about, don’t try playing dumb. A tactic like that should beneath you.

Look Scotty, that was the left shutting down a message that they didn’t want to hear, not Trump. Not this time.

#35 Comment By Carl Eric Scott On March 13, 2016 @ 9:59 pm

E. Poston, Thanks for the feedback. I do agree the GOP needs massive reform. If the Trump thing had gone into January and then fizzled, it would have done good service. (‘course, it was shameful from day one that it was a character like Trump who led this rebellion.)

And I’m with the conservatism-rooted Trump supporters in thinking that, whatever inevitable tactical errors may have been made here and there, a Republican spirit of capitulation and back-room-decided “compromise” has been far more the problem over the last six years than the shut-down strategy Wehner simply dismisses. Heck, I’m one of the few bloggers who openly said the GOP House ought to threaten Obama w/ impeachment if he did the Big Amnesty. I had many detailed posts of the p’s and q’s of that.

And like Rod, I talk about the fact that we may be entering the last half-century of republican govt. in America, it’s just that I talk in detail about what “late republican times” mean, and how one must not get stuck in predictable apocalyptic rhetoric, nor think one can predict with certainty. See my “Late Republican Times” posts. I try to calibrate how close political Doom is, and what it means about our present political responsibilities, as well as our rhetorical ones. So count me in 25% agreement with Wehner on the problems of over-heated apocalyptic rhetoric being used by conservatives, but if he wants dismiss the likes of Cruz and I or the Trump-folks for our worries about the republic getting nearer and nearer the point-of-very-hard-return, then I have no use whatsoever for his moderation-so-called. (And he want to air the charge of “science-denial” one more time?!? That just isn’t seeing the dynamic of MSM slandering of ordinary conservatives that the Trump conservatives do have their eye upon…) In sum, I say Wehner has not learned the essential things GOP folks need to from the Trump moment.

Rod might half-sense that…he did append his excerpt from Wehner with a “that’s good as far as it goes” note.

Anyhow, I sort of leave the “Can you believe the obtuseness and corrupt self-interest of the GOP establishment?!?!?” posts to my Postmodern Conservative colleague Pete Spiliakos, but I agree with all his posts on that subject.

BTW, I LOVE Rod’s defense in a more recent post of the Trump-supporters’ right to rallies free from SJW interruption/intimidation, even as he is able to hold in the same post to a condemnation of their own thuggish tendencies/temptations. That’s the kind of FIERCE MODERATION attacking sins on both sides of a dispute that I admire.

I just think fierce moderation also ought to recognize that Cruz, or maybe Rubio if something big shifts, is the best option now. It’s the boring old impossible to fully-reform GOP, the one that Rod seems to like announcing the final demise of, that stands in the way of Clinton/SJW-corruption on one hand, and Trump-demagogery on the other. That and nothing else.

#36 Comment By JonF On March 14, 2016 @ 10:43 am

Re: Then it just comes down to the electoral college and you’re going to have to hop more millenials come out to vote for the candidate that many of them will see as having stolen the nomination from their preferred candidate,

If the nominee is Trump people will come out in droves to vote against him including Republicans who will cross over and vote Democratic (as my very Republican father did for LBJ against Goldwater in 1964). And if it’s Cruz you’ll get the sane effect since Cruz’ extremist rightwing pals (one of his preachers has called for the death penalty against gays) frighten anyone not in that camp. In short, the liberal/left will vote for an alley rat over either Trump or Cruz. The GOP needs to nominate either Rubio or Kasich if they are going avoid ginning up a huge “Anything but that guy” vote.

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 14, 2016 @ 12:36 pm

Siarlys you know what I’m talking about

At face value Viking, your broad brush is beneath contempt. I thought it might be possible to offer you the chance to explain yourself. Apparently you are too frightened of your lack of data or the imprecision of your attempt at analysis to do anything but clam up and call names.

#38 Comment By KS On March 14, 2016 @ 1:34 pm

This would all be good analysis, but you keep promoting this myth of the noble, good ordinary man/woman who has been sold down the river by these few hucksters at the top, and therefore has innocently ended up supporting all kinds of not so good things. Better to look closer at the link you provided

“Voters are complicit in this too; many of them have come to confuse cruelty, vulgarity and bluster with strength and straight talk. And Republican lawmakers compounded a problem they had promised to solve, promoting rather than ending corporate welfare and crony capitalism.”

Sure they are. Consider the possibility that maybe some of those folk whom you find noble and good might not be so, they might actually be vulgar, cruel etc. Trump is good at selling to them.