Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Trumpism Without Trump? No. Trumpism-Light Without Hillary

Give a nod to Virginia Democrats. They had an exceptional get out the vote effort, were jazzed to get to the voting booth, and had a smart top of the ticket that jinked towards the center to bring in the big squishy middle.

Poor Ed Gillespie. Ed is a good guy and would have been a fine Governor. Why he picked 2017 to make a run? Who knows. It was a low-probability voyage of the damned the day a year ago that Trump won.

As I remain in many respects a Party unto myself – and not a Virginian – I’ve watched this race with a detached and neglected curiosity, mostly to see what kind of wreck it will be.

Between twitter and what few minutes of “the shows” I’ve been able to stomach, I’ve found the spin and hot takes to be less than convincing on both sides.

I do think there are some important lessons that both Democrats and Republicans should ponder.

1. Ed is about as establishment GOP (not that there is anything wrong with that) as you can get. He was never going to excite the Trump base to turn in numbers in the hinterlands as great as the pent-up frustrated Democrats within commuting distance of DC wanted to come out and rage-vote.

2. Ralph Northam is a good politician who offered an opportunity for the (D) to get a 1 in the “Win” column with style. He was always the favorite to win, and by shifting towards the right to even center-right in the general, he broadened his spread.

3. The pummeling the VA GOP got was well deserved and should be of no surprise. So much of it comes from the general confusion in the GOP establishment that is directly responsible for Trump being elected.

Let me take a bit to flesh-out that last bit, as it applies to the nation as a whole, and a bit to VA.

Exhibit A is Reince Priebus. He exercised even less control of the 2016 primary process than he did in his shambolic and abbreviated tour as Trump’s Chief of Staff. He allowed a huge clown car of Republicans to run and suck the oxygen out of the room, divide blocks, and created an opening for a neglected and scorned part of the GOP coalition to cleave almost in whole away from the rest the pack to Trump.

While Trump cultivated the part of the Republican Party that the establishment constantly took for granted – those who each election played Charlie Brown to the GOPe Lucy – those told to shut up and vote for the nominee given to them – the rest fed on each other.

Jeb! and his Alfrid Lickspittlesque partner Mike Murphy engaged over $100 million in a selfish personal vendetta against Marco Rubio from one side, while the unelectable Chris Christie came at him from the other. The professionals joined with the unelectable to eliminate the plausible, as the picayune egoists allowed to clutter the stage scampered about throwing glitter and smoke in the air. Ted Cruz? He was as confused as everyone else, and as he tried to position himself as best he could in the chaos, the table was already set.

As I mentioned as far back as 2015, Trump’s personality is exactly what he is; a New York City real estate developer. It isn’t a show, it just is. As the established coalition partners in the Republican Party were having slap fights over who was more entitled to what – Trump consolidated the neglected and scorned portions of the Republican Party together, welding them to him by constantly reassuring them he would not leave them.

How could a life-long Democrat, Clinton supporting, abrasive, womanizing, gun control supporting, single payer healthcare, crass Yankee get Evangelicals, gun owners, honor bound Southerners, nice Midwesterners and others to support him?

One person; Hillary Rodham Clinton. More and more people began to see that only one thing kept HRC away from the levers of power she lusted after. Sadly, that became DJT. Reince did not have the balls of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to do what needed to be done – so Trump hijacked the Republican Party.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The Republicans, on paper, have never been stronger – but there is a problem. That problem is Trump. He is toxic.

Yes, he as strong support, but 1/3 does not give you 50.1%. There are a lot of people who did not vote for DJT, but against HRC. That bolt is shot.

The HRC dragon has been slain. That motivation is no longer there. Without it, there is DJT standing in the light. He is not an attractive figure for many that voted for him simply to keep HRC away from power.

Anti-HRC enthusiasm is gone.

The standard Conservative message is good – but it needs to get out from Trump’s shadow to survive.

There is no Trumpism, there is only Trump. Some of those specific issues that gained him legitimacy; anti-sanctuary cities and respect for our history for example, are issues that the Democrats adopted to win in VA.

Trumpism is Trump. The Republican Party cannot be Trump, because when he goes, so will the Party if they are yoked to him. Trumpism is a dead end.

The Democrats know this better than the Republicans, I think – or just have an easier job. They are going to continue to push (R) towards DJT to keep his stink on them. They don’t need Trumps 33.3%. They just need some of the other 16.8%+.

What they need to do is to not just capture some of that 16.8%, they need to depress and de-motivate the Trump base before the Republicans find a way to re-motivate them in a post-Trump world.

The Democrats are in the process of cutting the last strings to the Clintons. This will open all sorts of doors to them – and will remove a not insignificant motivation for Republicans that has powered many of for decades.

The Republicans need to regain the respect of the parts of their coalition that is loyal to Trump. They don’t need to be Trump – they just need to do show some respect for all parts of their Party. They also need to realize that they need to absolutely avoid the most toxic parts of Trumpism as it will kill them.

Can they do that? I don’t know. My inner-Eeyore thinks not in time. The Republicans will pay a price for having a NYC Democrat populist at the top of their ticket. How big will the price be? We’ll see.

There is great opportunity here for those who are fighting the good fight inside the Republican Party. As Trumpism takes its course, those who were steadfast yet out of the frag pattern will be able to step in and take power in the Party. Those who left or retreated from conservative principals by joining Democrats or fan-boi Trumpism? No. They will not be seen as part of the solution. There is not much time left to re-join the fight. Come back - we need 'ya.

A final note: no one born before 1963 should run for office as a Republican ever again. Those who are closest to the Reince/Mike Murphy part of the Party should be sent to lobbyist exile.

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