The rumors of Donald Trump’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Those buying into the chorus of “Trump is Dead” will be sorely disappointed in November for assuming the Trump campaign would one day simply self-destruct in a grand finale of public humiliation. Just ask the Republicans.
The first week of the general election has been brutal for sure. Trump lost a fight with the parents of a dead marine and along the way stoked the ire of veterans organizations. Ouch. He then refused to endorse Paul Ryan, who had previously resisted endorsing Trump, thus killing, in utero, the myth of Republican unity. Double ouch. To top it off some well-known Republicans, like Meg Whitman, are publically admitting they will not support Trump in November.
In a normal election year with a normal candidate, any of these wounds might prove fatal. But these are not normal times and “The Donald” is anything but a normal candidate. It seems a bit premature to pronounce him dead according to the normal rules of politics.
Trump’s inexperience showed in his immature handling of the criticism delivered by Khizr Khan at the DNC. But inexperience cuts both ways. Like most beginners, he also doesn’t understand just how badly he screwed up. Even if he did, denial of reality is a fundamental part of Trump’s persona. No doubt Trump will go on as if nothing has happened.
Remember also that conservatives often look at the world through a different lens. When Trump refuses to apologize to the Khan family, the media sees arrogance and obstinance. Conservatives though, see integrity and grit. They want someone who won’t back down, even in the face of being the least popular person in America. Why they feel this way is the subject of another article but we have to recognize it as a reality.
Then there’s the news coverage of the Khizr Khan spat, which has been exceptionally negative, but as also bolstered the conservative narrative of an agenda-driven liberal media out to get someone who doesn’t play by their rules. This will increase fervency and drive turnout among those who would love nothing more than to shove their ballots down those ‘self-righteous liberals’’ throats on election day.
By the same token, the Paul Ryan dust up matters very little. The same Republican base that nominated Trump also hate Paul Ryan.They are the very ones going after him in Wisconsin, via the personage of Paul Nehlen.
It’s frightening to think that the Ryan non-endorsement, being presented as evidence the Trump campaign is falling apart, is actually evidence Trump is riding a wave of resentment so large it could sweep away an entire political party.
Regarding the alleged Republican defections, there has not been a single person who has “defected” that would not be labeled by ideological conservatives as RINO’s (Republican in Name Only). Meg Whitman? Dick Armitage? John McCain? Mitt Romney? On the hard right, impurity is even greater a sin than liberalism and these are the impurist of the impure.
Let me be clear: I disdain Donald Trump. He represents everything wrong with our politics. Still, we have to be careful about getting caught in our own self-confirmation bubbles. We would all love to think there’s a magic pill out there to just get rid of the threat, like an antibiotic. Alas, if there were we wouldn’t have come this far before using it. Trump is much more analogous to chronic heart disease. There’s a pill that will help us live longer, but the underlying condition of the body politic must change in order to be truly cured.
There are less than 100 days until the election. I suspect, as many do, this will be a fairly decisive victory for Hillary Clinton. Yet there are real risks to the silver bullet approach to Donald Trump which is to underestimate the forces at work and get surprised on Election Day.