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“A ‘Base’ Election?”: The Trump Campaign Seems To Be Forgetting That Its Real Audience Isn’t In Quicken Arena

Thursday night’s official Republican National Convention theme is “Make America One Again.” After the first three nights, displaying Donald Trump’s campaign as a force for unity anywhere — even just in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena — will take some doing.

On Wednesday night, Team Trump deliberately provoked what can only be described as a lose-lose confrontation with Ted Cruz that created a nasty and divisive scene overshadowing the maiden speech of the vice-presidential nominee. With each such decision, you get the impression the people in charge of this convention have forgotten that the real “arena” is the general election, and that their real audience is an electorate far beyond this bowl seething with unaccountably angry delegates.

Otherwise it’s hard to credit the constant, interminable, over-the-top feeding of red meat to the crowd, beginning with Willie Robertson’s first-night taunting of people who are not “real Americans.” It may be understandable that speakers are tempted to interact with the people on the floor howling for Hillary Clinton’s incarceration, but the job of convention managers is to remind them that these people are TV props — ignore them and remember the whole world’s watching!

It’s almost as though the Trump people are treating the convention as the culmination of the mogul’s campaign: an opportunity to glory in their extremely unlikely conquest of one of America’s two major parties, to gloat over the shattered Establishment that’s being forced to accept them, and to shake their fists at the unbelievers who still mock their orange-tinted champion. That there is still a difficult election ahead and that this convention is a priceless earned-media opportunity to reach out beyond their own ranks seems to be lost on this wild show’s organizers and participants.

Perhaps they have oversubscribed to the idea that this is a “base” election with virtually no swing voters that will be decided strictly on the basis of who can get supporters so whipped up into a hate-frenzy that they vote at unprecedented levels. Or maybe they decided in advance that conventions don’t really matter as anything other than a reward to core supporters who are cavorting over the supine bodies of their class and ideological enemies in the GOP.

In any event, Donald Trump has set quite the challenge for himself in making unity, of all things, his announced theme for the climactic convention address, the one thing that could make people forget the atavistic images from the first three nights. As I noted in an earlier column, Paul Manafort says the tycoon is modeling his speech on Richard Nixon’s reasonably successful (if retroactively ludicrous) 1968 acceptance speech effort to pose as a moderate third-way alternative to the raging forces of left and right. In this case it would be like George Wallace seizing the podium at that 1968 convention and denouncing the furies he had himself conjured up.

Short of self-criticism, which does not seem to be in his repertoire, Donald Trump is going to have a hard time projecting himself as a unifying figure. But to have any chance of success, he needs to begin by reminding himself that it just doesn’t matter whether the delegates physically before him in the arena go away slightly disappointed that he passed up an opportunity to reflect their excited rage.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 21, 2016

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, GOP Base, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Feeling A Revolutionary Spirit”: Moved By Donald Trump, David Duke Plots A Comeback

I see that David Duke hasn’t moderated his views since he was an active politician in the early 1990’s. That’s unfortunate. Some people mature with time.

Instead, he’s feeling “a revolutionary spirit,” and is seriously considering making a challenge to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Duke has until June 22nd to qualify for the November ballot. Remember, Louisiana has those funky elections where the November election can serve as a primary of sorts if no one reaches 50% of the vote. In those cases, there is a subsequent runoff election.

I don’t remember if Duke is/was a Grand Wizard or an Exalted Cyclops or what exact honorific he used in the Ku Klux Klan.

“There are millions of people across the country who would like to have me in the Congress. I’d be the only person in Congress openly defending the rights and the heritage of European Americans,” he said. “We are on the offensive today. There’s no more defenses.”

He actually thinks he’d make a good running mate for Trump.

Duke compared himself to Donald Trump, who he endorsed for president.

“I’ve said everything that Donald Trump is saying and more,” he said. “I think Trump is riding a wave of anti-establishment feeling that I’ve been nurturing for 25 years.”

Yet, Duke is realistic enough to know that Trump is unlikely to put him on the ticket.

Trump won’t reach out to him because the candidate fears “offending the oligarchs,” a term Duke uses for the political establishment he said is controlled by Jewish, Hispanic and African American interests.

Aware of his checkered history, Duke said he welcomed the backlash that would come if he runs.

In most cases, it’s a cheap shot to highlight a candidate’s most unsavory supporters, particularly if that support is unsolicited and unrequited. But it’s noteworthy to see Duke feeling this energized by Trump’s success. He’s moved by the spirit to stop playing defense and run for office because he sees in Trump the fruition of a quarter century of race hatred that he’s been “nurturing.”

Maybe Duke is just misinterpreting Trump or the political moment or basic reality, but there’s little doubt about what Duke thinks he can accomplish under Trump’s leadership.

Should Duke make it to the House, he said one of his first goals would be to repeal the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which liberalized immigration laws by eliminating race-based quotas.

Obviously, Duke thinks Trump is a fellow traveler, and he might have been bolstered in that impression back in February when Trump had tremendous difficulty finding one bad thing to say about the KKK.

When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday about David Duke and the KKK supporting his candidacy, Donald Trump passed on refuting them. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know — did [David Duke] endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.” When Tapper said he was specifically talking about the KKK, Trump continued saying, “I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about.” He then declared, “You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. You may have groups in there that are totally fine — it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know.”

But who, really, knows nothing about the Ku Klux Klan?

Trump did disavow the Klan’s support, but so tepidly that Duke was obviously encouraged.

So encouraged, in fact, that he’s ready to take on the House Majority Whip. And, in case you’d forgotten or just didn’t know, Steve Scalise has in the past spoken to one of David Duke’s little hate groups (the European-American Unity and Rights Organization) and once campaigned as “David Duke without the baggage.”

If Duke does run, the people of Louisiana’s First District will get to decide if they want their David Duke with or without the baggage.

In the meantime, Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin, is telling people that Donald Trump is a racial healer.

I’m just not seeing that.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 13, 2016

July 14, 2016 Posted by | David Duke, Donald Trump, Ku Klux Klan | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Fear Of A Female Administration? We’ll See”: Who Second-Guesses A Ticket With Two Men?

Is America ready for a two-woman presidential ticket?

It certainly seems the Clinton campaign is considering the question. Hillary Clinton has made a high profile public appearance recently with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. They clicked so well that the Washington Post called them the “it” couple of Democratic politics.

At a rally in Ohio, Sen. Warren spoke with her customary sassy brilliance as Clinton looked on warmly. Warren for weeks has taken to Twitter to aim her quick wit and sharp invective at the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump. She showed she can play the role of the mean girl against the bully. She goaded Trump for his “goofy” hat, his simplistic sloganeering and his elite birth. Women cheered at the display of saucy sisterhood.

The public display of friendship seems to be a trial balloon, and many wondered when it would be burst by the pinprick of reality.

Two women? Could voters possibly be progressive enough to support such an estrogen-heavy ticket?

Some turned the question around: Who second-guesses a ticket with two men? Nobody, because we’ve been doing it that way for centuries.

True. But sexism is a fact of American politics. It will be front and center with Trump in the presidential race. The man cannot shape-shift into a gentleman no matter how much the GOP establishment works to improve him.

The unsettling reality is that Donald Trump can get elected to the White House by being a jerk. Hillary Clinton cannot.

Voters need to like female candidates more than they do male candidates. They can dislike a man running for office and still regard him as qualified and electable.

Likeability is not a litmus test for men. It tends to be for women, according to research by Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. And many people, even Democratic-leaning women, do not like Clinton all that much.

Another finding is that voters seldom think that woman candidate wins a debate with a male opponent. That might have something to do with assumptions about presentation — how a man can be viewed as tough and strong, whereas a woman with similar posturing will be viewed in a negative light. A man is still the model for what people view as a politician. Both genders tend to be more questioning of the qualifications of female candidates.

The 2016 presidential race exemplifies this. The idea that a virtual political nobody like Trump can be held on the same plane as a person like Clinton, with a long and distinguished record of public service, is offensive.

These are the unfair headwinds Hillary Clinton has to face.

Yet there are promising signs for her. Eighty percent of unmarried women support Clinton, according to polls, and she has a substantial lead among women voters generally. In fact, 2016 will be the first time that a majority of vote-eligible women are projected to be unmarried. Those numbers could easily turn the election in all states, according to Celinda Lake.

But alas, polling can only predict so much. Lake emphasizes that demography is not destiny. Voters have to turn out.

To some extent, this campaign can be about challenging sexism. But it would be foolish to underestimate the extent to which such bias persists and will motivate voters.

The same goes even if Clinton wins the White House. Women and girls will not suddenly be viewed as equals and treated with respect any more than African-Americans felt racial bias and discrimination lift from their lives with the election of Barack Obama. In fact, racism became in many ways more overt after Obama was inaugurated. One need only consider the widespread belief among white Republicans that Obama has divided the nation racially. (No, his presence in the White House just held the mirror up to America.)

Sexism will be similar for Clinton. It’s dying, slowly. Women are certainly far better off in work and home life than they were decades ago. But gender bias affects women and girls every minute of the day — in subtle digs, unrecognized effects of long-held beliefs as well as blatant verbal attacks. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it is America, 2016. And it will impact the election.

Lake has another prediction: When the big money gets out and civility returns to American politics, you’ll see more women running for office. And more women candidates may also bring out more women voters.

The problem is that we are not there yet. We live in a time when Donald Trump can be seriously considered as a candidate to lead the greatest nation on Earth. We clearly have work to do.

 

By:Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, July 2, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Trump’s Corrupt Bargain On Guns”: Where The Party’s Elites Pretend To Share The Base’s Cultural Values And Priorities

Donald Trump speaks before the National Rifle Association’s convention today, where he will enact a charade of cultural affinity for the assembled members, one utterly laughable in its insincerity. Not being there to ask them, I can’t say whether anyone in the hall actually believes that he means what he’ll say to them.

But as long as he hits the right notes — vowing to make sure guns are brought into as many places by as many people as possible, pouring sneering contempt on city slickers and egghead liberals, painting ludicrously paranoid pictures of America as a post-apocalyptic hellscape of crime and chaos, insisting that Hillary Clinton will singlehandedly destroy every right they treasure — it’ll be good enough for them.

This is a perfect expression of the larger Republican bargain, where the party’s elites pretend to share the base’s cultural values and priorities, and in exchange are put into office where they pursue an agenda of tax cuts and regulatory rollback. You can see it played out with one constituency group after another. For instance, when Trump stood before an audience of evangelicals and cited “Two Corinthians,” he quoted from the verse, then said, “Is that the one? Is that the one you like? I think that’s the one you like.”

The audience snickered at his ham-handed attempt at pandering, and when Trump says that the Bible is his favorite book (even better than The Art of the Deal!), nobody thinks he’s being honest. But guess what: Trump will have no trouble holding on to the evangelical vote in the fall. After some doubts, they came around to him, just like every Republican constituency group either has already or will before long.

It does take a bit of rationalization, but that’s often a part of the presidential campaign process. Once somebody is your party’s nominee, you’re going to work hard to convince yourself that he’s not just the least bad option, but somebody who’s actually terrific. So in the latest CBS/New York Times poll, 67 percent of Republican voters say Trump “shares their values,” even though for so many of them he plainly doesn’t. That number will probably climb higher between now and the election.

As for the NRA faithful, Trump is about as far from their values as he could be. A born-and-bred city dweller, he used to support an assault weapons ban and expanded background checks. In his 2000 book The America We Deserve he wrote that “The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions.”

But now he’s turned himself into a parody of a gun nut. He says he has a concealed-carry permit, he wants to rescind President Obama’s executive actions expanding background checks, he thinks assault weapons are tremendous, and he wants to make any permit you get in any state valid in the 49 other states, so people can bring their guns even where other states don’t want them. And as for gun-free zones, “My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.”

Trump is saying to gun advocates: Is that the one? Is that the one you like? I think that’s the one you like.

Gun advocates certainly get something substantive out of the deal: inaction. Fortunately for them, Trump doesn’t actually have to do much for them, since the status quo isn’t that bad as far as they’re concerned (forget about him wiping away gun-free school zones with a stroke of a pen on his first day — that exists as the result of a law passed by Congress in the 1990s, and it would take another act of Congress to repeal it). But the real appeal is cultural, and they want candidates to genuflect before that culture, no matter how baldly phony the act might be.

The NRA, which believe it or not used to be an organization devoted to promoting gun safety and good marksmanship, has succeeded over the last couple of decades in freighting guns with all kinds of cultural associations, making them one of the most powerful markers of identity in American life. They’ve encouraged people to think that gun ownership makes you self-reliant, independent, masculine, strong, capable, and patriotic — and anyone who thinks that 30,000 Americans killed by guns every year is a problem worth addressing must not be any of those things.

Those voters will be told that if they don’t get out and vote Republican, Hillary Clinton will send her jackbooted government thugs to break down their doors and take their guns, leaving them defenseless against the dusky horde of low-lifes lying in wait to kill them and rape their women. They will be told that it’s an emergency, that the gun-grabbing is set to begin the day after inauguration, that their lives and freedom and everything they hold dear hang in the balance.

“If you cherish Second Amendment rights, the stakes have never been higher than they are in this election,” says an NRA spokesperson, which is an amazing coincidence, considering that the stakes were never higher than they were in the last election, and the stakes were never higher than they were in the election before that, and the election before that and the election before that.

The cultural argument also helps cloud the fact that Republican politicians have chosen to take the positions of the NRA leadership, which are far more extreme not just than those held by the public, but even by the group’s own membership. The NRA opposes universal background checks, which are supported not only by around nine in ten Americans, but by three-quarters of NRA members. With just a few exceptions, nearly every Republican in Congress lines up with the NRA leadership and against their own constituents.

The group successfully tells gun owners: Forget about that, because Democrats want to grab your guns. There can be no compromise. And when Donald Trump goes before them and acts like Yosemite Sam, either they’re foolish enough to think he means what he says, or they decide that it doesn’t really matter.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, May 20, 2016

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Gun Deaths, Gun Free Zones, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Consolidating The Same Old GOP Vote”: Is Trump Leading An Intra-Party Coup Rather Than A Political Realignment?

If you want to make a case that Donald Trump can win the presidency in November without huge “black swan” events like another 9/11 or Great Recession, and you don’t buy dumb polls suggesting Trump’s actually very popular among Latinos, then you are driven to one of two intersecting theories. The first is the famous “missing white voters” hypothesis, which suggests that Mitt Romney left millions of votes on the table in 2012, and Trump’s just the guy to bring these voters to the polls. And the second is the theory beloved of some Democratic lefties that as a “populist” Trump’s going to win former Democratic, white, working-class voters alienated by Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street ties.

Politico has, however, done some number-crunching from the GOP primaries and concluded (tentatively, at least) that Trump’s base of support backs neither of the theories of an expanding GOP:

While Trump’s insurgent candidacy has spurred record-setting Republican primary turnout in state after state, the early statistics show that the vast majority of those voters aren’t actually new to voting or to the Republican Party, but rather they are reliable past voters in general elections. They are only casting ballots in a Republican primary for the first time.

If that’s true, then what the Trump candidacy represents is not some realigning event that could change our understanding of the general-election landscape, but simply an intra-party coup that overthrew the dominance of the business-as-usual and conservative-movement Establishments without necessarily adding to the total number of people prepared to vote Republican in November.

Now even if you don’t believe Trump is God’s gift to Democratic GOTV efforts, it’s pretty safe to say he places a cap on the GOP share of minority voters. So at best the general-election polls showing a tightening Trump-Clinton race may be about as good as it gets for the mogul, showing that he’s consolidating the same old GOP vote without materially adding to it.

On the other hand, the Politico analysis could be wrong. But it helps expose the tenuous reasoning behind Trump-can-win scenarios that rely on hoary ideas about hidden majorities and transpartisan “populist” winds that blow up the existing party coalitions. If the typical Trump supporter is someone who has voted for GOP presidential candidates monotonously since the Reagan Administration without necessarily buying into the party’s economic orthodoxy, then that should be terrifying to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but not so much to Democrats.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 17, 2016

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Populism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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