25 January 2016

How the Democrats can beat Trump, by a Republican

Ross Douthout, one of the New York Times's house Republicans, thinks Donald Trump is a fake. Not a fake Republican or a fake conservative, though Douthout may think so in both cases. The most important thing, and Trump's biggest potential weakness, he argues, is that he's a fake success. Douthout believes that Trump remains popular in the Republican polls because his supporters are convinced that he's an "incredible self-made genius" with the "business chops," as well as the "middle-finger-first attitude," that the nation needs at this time. To stop Trump, Douthout argues, Republicans have to "flip his brand." His rivals shouldn't waste time disputing credentials that neither Trump nor his supporters really care about, but should challenge his supposed primary attribute: his success.

So don’t tell people that he doesn’t know the difference between Kurds and the Quds Force. (They don’t either!) Tell people that he isn’t the incredible self-made genius that he plays on TV. Tell them about all the money he inherited from his daddy. Tell them about the bailouts that saved him from ruin. Tell them about all his cratered companies. Then find people who suffered from those fiascos — workers laid off following his bankruptcies, homeowners who bought through Trump Mortgage, people who ponied up for sham degrees from Trump University. Or just take a camera crew around Atlantic City, and slap Trump’s name on what you find. Likewise, don’t get mired in philosophical arguments about big government and crony capitalism. Find the people hurt by Trump’s attempts to exploit eminent domain: The widow whose boarding house he wanted to demolish to make room for a limo parking lot, the small businessmen whose livelihoods he wanted to redevelop out of existence [links in original].

If the Republicans don't do this, Douthout warns -- while noting that Senator Cruz has just begun attacking Trump on the eminent domain issue - the Democrats eventually will when only they can benefit. He expects the Democratic nominee, especially if it's Senator Sanders,to make Trump "radioactive" with working-class voters -- supposedly the bulk of Trump's current base -- the same way they made Mitt Romney radioactive, by highlighting his apparent indifference to or contempt for the little guy.

Douthout may have a point, but he seems strangely clueless in his dismay over Republicans' failure to exploit this apparent weak spot. To do as he suggests, wouldn't Republicans themselves have to care about the little guys? It seems more likely that their attitude would be the same toward Trump's supposed victims had the perpetrator been anyone but Trump: those are the breaks of the game; life's not fair; get over it; adapt to the Market's demands or die. As for Trump's base, while they may mostly be little guys themselves, they may not care much more than the Republican establishment does. Remember that right-wing populists in the U.S. are often very limited in solidarity or even compassion for their fellow people. While they're presumed bigots, I suspect they're really quite indiscriminate in their indictment of American loserdom, from which they trust Trump to rescue them. Douthout wants them to conclude that Trump screwed over a lot of innocent people, but how does he know that they won't find Trump's supposed victims to be whiny losers while continuing to admire Trump for what could appear to them as superior resilience and adaptability? If they see ruthlessness in Trump's record, maybe that's what they want in a President.

Those who support Trump probably are with him all the way now. Despite Glenn Beck's outrage, has anyone seen Trump's poll numbers slip after his joke about shooting a random person and not losing support? It's time for pundits like Douthout to face up to the likelihood that Trump's people really don't care about anything (or anyone) right now other than giving their man a chance to do what he has to do.  Trump won't be stopped simply by changing those people's minds -- if you can change them. If Trump is going to lose, it'll be because, whether or not his supporters believe themselves to be the great Hidden Majority -- the authentic American people -- they're not.


Anonymous said...

The thing is, on the right, they seem to want to see everyone as an enemy or potential enemy. On the left, they want to see everyone as a friend or potential friend (or business partner). But the reality is, there are friends and there are enemies. In some cases it is obvious, in some, one must observe closely and for a time, before being able to decide which a person is.

Samuel Wilson said...

Trump's own position would seem to be somewhere in the middle: everyone is a potential business partner or a potential enemy. The right's problem is its tendency to automatically label entire categories of people as "enemy" while treating everyone else, as you suggest, as a potential enemy, while the liberal fallacy (the hard left presumably still believes in "class enemies") is that no one is ever your enemy unless you make him one.

GOP POLLS said...

I think alot of people are voting for Trump because of the success he already has attained as an entrepreneur. I haven't heard him talk about facts or political views. Mostly trash talking the competition. Hilary better be on her p's and q's or Trump will win. I think that Hilary is the best candidate to compete with Donald Trump. I think this race is based more on popularity and not the facts. www.goppolls.net