Trump’s Third Path

There is usually a raging controversy within the Republican Party as to the nature of its presidential nominee. One train of thought says that it should be a “moderate,” someone whose “reasonable” demeanor can appeal to the independent so-called ‘swing voters,’ those undecideds in the middle who are persuadable, the voting bloc without any avowed predetermined ideological or party loyalty.

The logic of this thought is seemingly solid: Roughly 40% or so of the electorate is reliably Democrat or Republican, regardless of their official registration (since many people like to claim the independence of not being “owned” by a party when, in fact, they vote with a given party 99% of the time). A candidate with an R or D will get 40% simply by showing up.

It’s interesting that a Republican candidate feels they must portray him/herself as “reasonable” or “moderate” in order to appeal to the so-called undecideds. No Democratic candidate ever feels pressured into trying to appear “moderate” in an effort to attract voters. McGovern, Dukakis, Sanders et al. -- none of these hyperliberals ever felt as if they needed to hide or soften their anti-business, anti-military, anti-energy, pro-affirmative action, pro-illegal immigration, pro-abortion or pro-warming views.

This, of course, is a direct result of the liberal mainstream media’s inherent agreement with liberal Democratic candidates’ policies and positions, so the mainstream media like the NY Times, network TV news, NPR, GMA, Facebook, cable/internet shows like the Daily Show, and even ESPN commentators regularly tossing in liberal Democratic snippets during their sports reporting, etc. regard any Democratic candidate’s policy stances as normal, and therefore those liberal positions don’t require any modification in order to appear palatable to the electorate.

This “must appear to be reasonable, non-threatening, not scary to Mr. and Mrs. Average Voter” requirement of Republican candidates has given the Republicans such memorable candidates as Dole in ’96, McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. The reasonable requirement in ’96, ‘08 and ’12 was exacerbated by the Dems having particularly sharp, well-spoken candidates in Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. (Unlike the other post-WWII presidential election years when the Democrats ran incredibly stiff, phony, condescending candidates whose pretentious, overbearing personae gave the Republicans a fighting chance of winning.)

One thing is consistent when the Republicans nominate a “reasonable” candidate: They lose. Hugely. Not even close. Obama was beatable in 2012, but Romney was weak, especially in debate 2, when he let Obama and Candy Crowley roll him like a street drunk and steal him blind during the foreign policy debate, which took place in the immediate aftermath of the lethal attack on American ambassador Stevens at Benghazi.

The other Republican strategy is to appeal to the core conservative vote and “energize the base,” as the saying goes. This theory purports that there exists some huge untapped reservoir of Republican voters, who too often don’t make it to the polls but would be motivated to do so if only there was a candidate with sufficiently inspiring conservative bone fides. Some analysts say this is how Romney lost in 2012 -- not by failing to attract enough Hispanics and Blacks, but by not rousing enough stay-at-home conservatives to make it to the polls.

That Republicans even have to conduct an election campaign with such considerations in mind is unambiguously indicative of how slanted the entire election process is. The liberal media’s bias coupled with an ever-increasing share of the population receiving Democratic-sponsored, government-funded handouts makes it increasingly difficult for a fiscally-conservative candidate to win a national election. Once such entitlements are flowing, no sane person is ever going to willingly, consciously vote to terminate their own benefits. Recognition of that is a key Democratic election strategy, which is exactly why Democrats promise more and more “free stuff.”

In 2016, Trump confidently and independently went about things in his own way -- to devastatingly effective results. First, he shined an exposing light on the Democrats’ blatantly divisive approach of “identity politics,” whereby they divide the electorate up into specific, singular groups of voters -- women, blacks, LGBT, Hispanics, Greens, unions, Millenials, etc. -- and then attempt to craft specific policies designed to win each group’s support.

In contrast to the conventional Republican strategy of primarily targeting white middle- and upper-class voters, business leaders, the military, and the Religious Right, Trump aimed his message of job creation, national/border security, and American populism at the entire electorate, across all categories and demographics. His strategy was strong on issues not typically in a Republican platform:

  • To inner-city blacks who have languished in poverty for generations under Democratic policies, he effectively said, “What have you got to lose by voting for me?”
  • Rather than pandering to Hispanics on the illegal immigration issue, he steadfastly maintained a “You don’t want your jobs taken by illegal immigrants, your safety threatened, or your children at risk of drugs any more than anyone else, do you?” stance.
  • In a decidedly unRepublican nod to “shovel-ready” jobs, he cited the need to rebuild America’s “crumbling infrastructure and third-world airports.”
  • And rather than cede the women’s vote to the Democrats, he proposed a massive Government-funded expansion of childcare, the presentation delivered with stunning passion by his daughter Ivanka.

In all candor, Trump also had the good fortune of running against Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most supremely unlikable, positionless, self-entitled, and corrupt candidate in modern times, whose almost limitless dishonesty and duplicity were exposed with ruthless accuracy by the Wikileaks e-mails. Her sycophants’ defense of, "If only we could have hid the truth about Hillary from the American people, we’d have won" is a politically fatal cliff to be driving towards with such reckless abandon, yet they seem to have floored the accelerator and locked the steering wheel in that direction.

Another uncertain factor about Trump, especially in regards to predictive polling, was the retroactively-plausible thought that many voters -- independents and Democrats alike -- found his directness and frankness appealing and voted for him in the privacy of the voting booth, while telling their friends/family or exit pollsters, “Of course I voted for Hillary! What did you think?” This was the potential Trump upside to which there was no Clinton parallel -- and it ended up being a huge difference that the liberally-leaning polls refused to consider and couldn't capture. Clinton supporters rejected this notion out of hand, out of a mixture of disbelief, fear and shortsightedness. They did so at their peril.

So a Trump win happened not because he energized the base the way a Cruz would have and not because he appealed to the moderate middle, a la Rubio or Kasich. It happened because of a third path, one which stiff, unimaginative Republican lifetimers couldn’t envision and lifelong Democratic strategists couldn’t defend against. Future Republican candidates would do well to emulate the fundamentals of his campaign model.

There is usually a raging controversy within the Republican Party as to the nature of its presidential nominee. One train of thought says that it should be a “moderate,” someone whose “reasonable” demeanor can appeal to the independent so-called ‘swing voters,’ those undecideds in the middle who are persuadable, the voting bloc without any avowed predetermined ideological or party loyalty.

The logic of this thought is seemingly solid: Roughly 40% or so of the electorate is reliably Democrat or Republican, regardless of their official registration (since many people like to claim the independence of not being “owned” by a party when, in fact, they vote with a given party 99% of the time). A candidate with an R or D will get 40% simply by showing up.

It’s interesting that a Republican candidate feels they must portray him/herself as “reasonable” or “moderate” in order to appeal to the so-called undecideds. No Democratic candidate ever feels pressured into trying to appear “moderate” in an effort to attract voters. McGovern, Dukakis, Sanders et al. -- none of these hyperliberals ever felt as if they needed to hide or soften their anti-business, anti-military, anti-energy, pro-affirmative action, pro-illegal immigration, pro-abortion or pro-warming views.

This, of course, is a direct result of the liberal mainstream media’s inherent agreement with liberal Democratic candidates’ policies and positions, so the mainstream media like the NY Times, network TV news, NPR, GMA, Facebook, cable/internet shows like the Daily Show, and even ESPN commentators regularly tossing in liberal Democratic snippets during their sports reporting, etc. regard any Democratic candidate’s policy stances as normal, and therefore those liberal positions don’t require any modification in order to appear palatable to the electorate.

This “must appear to be reasonable, non-threatening, not scary to Mr. and Mrs. Average Voter” requirement of Republican candidates has given the Republicans such memorable candidates as Dole in ’96, McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. The reasonable requirement in ’96, ‘08 and ’12 was exacerbated by the Dems having particularly sharp, well-spoken candidates in Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. (Unlike the other post-WWII presidential election years when the Democrats ran incredibly stiff, phony, condescending candidates whose pretentious, overbearing personae gave the Republicans a fighting chance of winning.)

One thing is consistent when the Republicans nominate a “reasonable” candidate: They lose. Hugely. Not even close. Obama was beatable in 2012, but Romney was weak, especially in debate 2, when he let Obama and Candy Crowley roll him like a street drunk and steal him blind during the foreign policy debate, which took place in the immediate aftermath of the lethal attack on American ambassador Stevens at Benghazi.

The other Republican strategy is to appeal to the core conservative vote and “energize the base,” as the saying goes. This theory purports that there exists some huge untapped reservoir of Republican voters, who too often don’t make it to the polls but would be motivated to do so if only there was a candidate with sufficiently inspiring conservative bone fides. Some analysts say this is how Romney lost in 2012 -- not by failing to attract enough Hispanics and Blacks, but by not rousing enough stay-at-home conservatives to make it to the polls.

That Republicans even have to conduct an election campaign with such considerations in mind is unambiguously indicative of how slanted the entire election process is. The liberal media’s bias coupled with an ever-increasing share of the population receiving Democratic-sponsored, government-funded handouts makes it increasingly difficult for a fiscally-conservative candidate to win a national election. Once such entitlements are flowing, no sane person is ever going to willingly, consciously vote to terminate their own benefits. Recognition of that is a key Democratic election strategy, which is exactly why Democrats promise more and more “free stuff.”

In 2016, Trump confidently and independently went about things in his own way -- to devastatingly effective results. First, he shined an exposing light on the Democrats’ blatantly divisive approach of “identity politics,” whereby they divide the electorate up into specific, singular groups of voters -- women, blacks, LGBT, Hispanics, Greens, unions, Millenials, etc. -- and then attempt to craft specific policies designed to win each group’s support.

In contrast to the conventional Republican strategy of primarily targeting white middle- and upper-class voters, business leaders, the military, and the Religious Right, Trump aimed his message of job creation, national/border security, and American populism at the entire electorate, across all categories and demographics. His strategy was strong on issues not typically in a Republican platform:

  • To inner-city blacks who have languished in poverty for generations under Democratic policies, he effectively said, “What have you got to lose by voting for me?”
  • Rather than pandering to Hispanics on the illegal immigration issue, he steadfastly maintained a “You don’t want your jobs taken by illegal immigrants, your safety threatened, or your children at risk of drugs any more than anyone else, do you?” stance.
  • In a decidedly unRepublican nod to “shovel-ready” jobs, he cited the need to rebuild America’s “crumbling infrastructure and third-world airports.”
  • And rather than cede the women’s vote to the Democrats, he proposed a massive Government-funded expansion of childcare, the presentation delivered with stunning passion by his daughter Ivanka.

In all candor, Trump also had the good fortune of running against Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most supremely unlikable, positionless, self-entitled, and corrupt candidate in modern times, whose almost limitless dishonesty and duplicity were exposed with ruthless accuracy by the Wikileaks e-mails. Her sycophants’ defense of, "If only we could have hid the truth about Hillary from the American people, we’d have won" is a politically fatal cliff to be driving towards with such reckless abandon, yet they seem to have floored the accelerator and locked the steering wheel in that direction.

Another uncertain factor about Trump, especially in regards to predictive polling, was the retroactively-plausible thought that many voters -- independents and Democrats alike -- found his directness and frankness appealing and voted for him in the privacy of the voting booth, while telling their friends/family or exit pollsters, “Of course I voted for Hillary! What did you think?” This was the potential Trump upside to which there was no Clinton parallel -- and it ended up being a huge difference that the liberally-leaning polls refused to consider and couldn't capture. Clinton supporters rejected this notion out of hand, out of a mixture of disbelief, fear and shortsightedness. They did so at their peril.

So a Trump win happened not because he energized the base the way a Cruz would have and not because he appealed to the moderate middle, a la Rubio or Kasich. It happened because of a third path, one which stiff, unimaginative Republican lifetimers couldn’t envision and lifelong Democratic strategists couldn’t defend against. Future Republican candidates would do well to emulate the fundamentals of his campaign model.