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July 02, 2015

Donald Trump And Acela Republicans

Yesterday we got more polling confirmation of something we already knew...Republican voters are desperate, at least at this stage of the campaign. The proof of this is the fact that in what should be one of the deepest and most appealing GOP fields in, ever, Donald Trump is in 2nd place nationally and in Iowa. Now, he's only at 12% of the vote and most of those people won't really vote for him when push comes to shove but jokes like him and Ben Carson should be background noise.

Yet...

So why are so many Republican voters flirting with a crazy loudmouthed liberal? I think it's mostly because of the 2nd thing...loudmouthed.

The Trump bubble is what you get when a significant part of the GOP is tired of being lied to and screwed over. They want to be heard and they want to see their values (in this case anger, which is an emotion not a value but it's a reasonable stand in at this point) reflected in a candidate.

(And if you think he's going away anytime soon, you haven't noticed that he's already paying a price for running. There's no advantage in pulling out now. Bridges are going to be burned.)

The mostly mealy mouthed response to the resent Supreme Court ruling from most GOP candidates (certainly the "acceptable" types) does not match the anger a lot of conservatives are feeling. It seems the candidates think the anger is at gays when it strikes me it's much more at a process conservatives feel is rigged. There's almost no recognition by candidates that people feel something important about America is slipping away. They aren't seeing that being acknowledged by Jeb, Marco or even Walker.

Conservatives helped deliver historic GOP wins last year in the House and gave the party the Senate back. What exactly do they have to show for it? An amnesty cave, more deficit spending and an Obama legacy building trade package that they aren't too sure about. Oh and soaring approval ratings for Obama now that he has vanquished the GOP "hostage takers".

Funny, but I don't recall that being what the GOP was selling last fall.

And then we see the GOP putting up hacks like Darin LaHood and pulling out all the stops to beat a conservative like Mike Flynn. Ever notice that the even though the GOP keeps billing itself as a conservative party, the insurgents are always the more conservative ones. Shouldn't a supposedly conservative party be the ones finding, developing and promoting conservative candidates?

If the system is breaking down and no one is part of the system is willing to respond, then going outside the system with someone who reflects that anger (even if he doesn't really believe it) is not a crazy choice.

There's a lot of populist anger to be harnessed and led within the GOP but most Republican candidates are unwilling or an unable to do so. Nature abhors a vacuum and so...the Trump bubble.

But what does the GOP generally offer up in contrast to Trump's shtick? "Acela Republicans" for the most part. GOP consultant Rick Wilson explains why that works out as well as you'd expect.

Acela Republicans hate Republicans. There are three kinds of people who hate the Republican Party: liberals (for all their usual, tiresome reasons), hard conservatives (who value purity over winning anything, anywhere, ever) and Acela Republicans. Acela Republicans hate Republican voters, particularly primary voters, because they’re embarrassed by them. They don’t want to talk to them, for fear some of their proletarian nature will rub off. They either sit silently or join in the chorus when their friends in the media display their dripping, venomous contempt for anyone who lives outside coastal metros or was educated somewhere outside the Ivy League.

The Underpants Gnome Theory of Republican Campaigns

Acela Republicans play fantasy-league politics. “If only the rest of my party was pro-spending, pro-abortion, pro-gun control, loathed these religious bumpkins and their backward sky god, embraced a carbon tax, read the Times each morning and wanted to level the economic playing field with a bulldozer…then we’d start winning” is the lament of Acela Republicans. They fundamentally misread the electorate in both the Republican primary and the general election, time and again, and conflate contempt for pragmatism and smart politics.

I take exception to one thing Wilson writes here. "Hard conservatives" don't simply prize "purity over winning", we prize doing something with the wins that happen. "Hard conservatives" didn't make up the idea of fighting executive amnesty, the GOP ran on that last year. Same with controlling spending. It was the GOP leadership that then caved on amnesty in a heartbeat and passed the deficit hiking "doc-fix". "Hard conservatives" didn't come up with "a dollar or more in savings for every dollar we hike the debt ceiling". That was Boehner and it was Boehner who then broke that promise as fast as he could.

Hard conservatives won't get the sun and the moon from the GOP but don't be surprised that people tune you out when you promise something and fail to even try to deliver on it. You can only lie and cheat someone so many times until they walk away.

The GOP always wants to run on policy papers and 78 point plans because that's what the media and donors like to hear. They continue to ignore the emotional element of politics because they don't like it and they aren't any good at it.

Like it or not, people are swayed by their emotions and it's easier to move someone that way than it is to argue them into supporting a position they don't currently hold. People on the right are mad but also scared about what's happening to this country.They want to know that a candidate shares those feelings, that they "get it". If the GOP won't offer that candidate, it shouldn't be surprising that when one comes along who at least seems to "get it", people are intrigued by him.


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posted by DrewM. at 11:14 AM

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