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“The Political Stupidity Of The GOP’s Political ‘Experts'”: Simply Out Of Touch With Political Reality

The GOP’s political specialists — its political operatives and consultants — aren’t very smart about politics.

GOP operatives seem to believe that what GOP voters really like about Donald Trump is his “style” and “populism.” If only other Republican candidates would imitate some aspects of Trump’s style, the consultants bleat, they could surf some of the Trump wave.

This is facile nonsense.

Political operatives and the media like to blast “Trumpism” as substance-free bluster. But the parts of Trumpism that have most resonated with GOP voters actually map onto a clear and fairly obvious political agenda: hostile to immigration, trade and globalization, foreign adventures, and an economic and political system that seems to be rigged by insiders against outsiders. Combine that with a big appetite for national greatness. Regardless of the merits of this agenda, it’s an agenda. Call it the radical center, as my colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty and the Washington Free Beacon‘s Matt Continetti have.

This is why Republican insiders’ attacks against Trump have been singularly ineffective. He’s not a true conservative! they shout. Yes, and Trump voters are, at least in part, rebelling against conservative orthodoxy. If you want to deflate Trump, you have to put forward actual proposals that will appeal to Trump voters in a package that doesn’t have Trump’s baggage. Emoting like a reality TV star while peddling a flat tax simply won’t do.

But the GOP political class’ political stupidity goes beyond Trump. Consider immigration. I’d have my own super PAC if I got a dollar for every time a GOP political operative told a journalist on background that the way for the GOP to be nationally competitive and win Latinos is to support comprehensive immigration reform. This is simply not true, as Real Clear Politics Sean Trende has exhaustively and laboriously documented.

If it supported comprehensive immigration reform, the GOP would lose a chunk of the white vote, and anyhow, Latino voters are by and large driven by the same concerns as other voters, not just immigration. The GOP’s disadvantage among them has more to do with the income difference between Latino voters and median voters than with anything intrinsic to Latino voters.

Or consider another issue where GOP political operatives are simply out of touch with political reality: abortion. While most Republicans are socially conservative, most GOP political operatives tend to fall more on the libertarian side of the conservative spectrum and are often socially liberal. Their advice to most GOP politicians: Just shut up about abortion, lest you turn off women. Just do the minimum required to signal to pro-life voters that you’re on their side, and thereafter duck the issue.

This is wrongheaded, and almost certainly hurts the GOP nationally. Millions upon millions of women are more likely to call themselves “pro-life” than “pro-choice.” What’s more, the significant political gap within women is between single women and married women. Single women are very pro-choice, and very Democratic anyway. Many more married women are Republicans — and the rest are up for grabs. They may even be the single most important swing constituency. And many of them are pro-life, albeit squishy on the issue.

Republicans have a built-in political advantage against Democrats on abortion. They could use something like late-term abortion to drive a wedge between the Democratic nominee and key swing voters — especially suburban moms. For the GOP, it is a tragedy of politico groupthink that the party doesn’t use this strategy more.

Political operatives think voters are boobs. And sure, your average voter may not be a policy wonk, but that doesn’t mean she’s stupid. People can be quite canny, especially when you’re talking about their wallet. So no, Trumpism isn’t just about flash, and giving flash without substance in response won’t change it, because voters (yes, even Trump voters) do care about substance. Similarly, Latinos are not an interest group that cares only about issues related to their identity, but care instead about a broad spectrum of issues. And women, believe it or not, are not defined by their uteruses, and are just as capable as men of forming their own considered views on abortion, as with any other issue.

Voters want to feel like politicians understand them, yes, but they also want politicians to give them answers that will solve their problems, and they do have a capacity for evaluating these answers and formulating views about them, and that does influence how they vote.

And if the GOP got a better class of politicos, it might win more elections.

 

By: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week, December 7, 2015

December 8, 2015 - Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Political Consultants, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , ,

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