Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Why Republicans Can't Beat Trump but a Democrat Probably Can

Matt Yglesias explains that Trump's weaknesses are hard for Republicans to attack:
There are three main problems with Donald Trump as a candidate for national office, none of which can be effectively exploited by the Republican Party but all of which can be exploited by Clinton. The problems are:
  • Trump is a racist.
  • Trump's business record is unimpressive and ethically dodgy.
  • Trump's policy ideas are terrible.
There is simply no reason to believe that this is what the American people are looking for.

The problem Republicans have is that is that these flaws are not flaws that a Republican Party politician can effectively articulate to an audience of Republican Party primary voters.
  • Republican Party primary voters think that white people being shamed for racism is a bigger problem than white people doing racist stuff.
  • Republican Party elites are ideologically committed to the defense of inherited wealth and opposed to the regulation of business in the public interest.
  • Republican Party elites essentially share Trump's least-popular and most-obviously-ridiculous policy idea — an enormous tax cut for the rich — so they can't criticize it. 
This has left them resorting to a smorgasboard of hypocrisy arguments and opportunistic cheap shots that don't have a clear takeaway, occasionally punctuated with with the observation that Trump does not rigidly adhere to the GOP donor class's policy preference.
But it should not be difficult for a Democrat to tie Trump's sleazy business practices to a real critique of unrestrained capitalism, to point out that his proposed tax cut blows up the deficit while lining his own pockets, to make Trump University a rallying cry against student debt, and to rally minorities, liberals, and independent women against his swaggering patriarchal racism.

Of course the Democrat in question is likely to be Hillary, who has her own weaknesses that open up obvious lines of attack. (I wonder how many times she and her husband have asked Trump for money?) Which is why I don't see this election shaping up to be a historic blowout like some people are envisioning. Trump has a large natural constituency of white nationalists and his outsider message will resonate with many independents – one not very political person recently said to me, "I don't care who wins as long as it isn't another lawyer."

I predict a long, gruesome electoral slog.


Shadow Flutter said...

Iowa -- Cruz won
Alaska -- Cruz won
Oklahoma -- Cruz won
Nevada -- Trump won

I list these because they are the closed republican primaries to date. Only registered republicans can vote for a republican candidate in a closed primary. If this holds throughout the primaries and Trump does not win the nomination outright, then he may very well not win at the convention. No unaffiliated at the convention. No independents at the convention. No disaffected democrats at the convention. Only republican delegates at the convention.

Next week should tell a lot.

Trump wins biggest in open primaries. So far it appears non-republicans give Trump his boost.

David said...

I too am worried about Hillary's weaknesses. Apart from everything else, many Republicans seems to hate her in a personal, irreconcilable way that may motivate them to vote for Trump, even if they despise him.

It seems to me the very best hope to defeat Trump in the general election is if a third party candidate splits the conservative vote.

On another matter, I've been thinking: if anti-bullying says something fundamental about current liberalism, I wonder if bullying says something about Trumpism: joy in a raw, unapologetic, but unsystematic expression of power. I'm reminded of the difference between the SA, for whom Nazism meant the joy of beating up Jews and Communists, and the SS, for whom it meant a vast system of gas chambers run by professionals.

Sorry to confirm Godwin's Law, but I'm teaching the 30s and 40s now, and Nazis are on my mind.

G. Verloren said...

It amazes me how many people are "anti-lawyer" for the presidency. Who else do they honestly expect to run? Peanut farmers from Georgia?

Most presidents are members of congress, and if your career revolves around shaping the legislation of the nation, shouldn't you damn well have a degree in law to be qualified for the post? Likewise, while the presidency is in the Executive branch rather than the Legislative, shouldn't we be demanding that our future presidents be highly knowledgeable about the laws of the nation they seek to govern, and possess a deep understanding of the ways in which the other branches fundamentally operate?

Wanting the President to not be a lawyer is like wanting the Joint Chiefs of Staff to not be career generals and admirals. Who else could possibly be better equipped for the role? No sane person put a figure like Trump in command of the army, so why then would they put him in charge of the entire country, AND in charge of the military as commander-in-chief?