Critics of Donald Trump’s rise in the Republican polls have now turned on large swaths of the Republican base in a fit of pique and frustration.
Unable to understand how a man without pronounced conservative political positions, a man who has never held elected office, a man who routinely drops vulgar and demeaning language has skyrocketed to reportedly triple his next contender in the latest polls, these commentators have turned to name-calling themselves. This time, they target not Trump himself, but his followers.
David Brooks of the New York Times labels Trump’s supporters “low-information voters… classically the kind of people who don’t vote in primaries.” Matt Walsh of The Blaze says, “The real problem with the Trump Squad is that they don’t take the fate of this nation seriously… Beneath the frivolous rage is a gross immaturity.” On Twitter, the anger is palpable, with many conservatives raging about Trump’s rise and raging against the dying of various other presidential campaigns.
The puzzlement at Trump’s sudden rise is understandable for conservatives who prize policy above all. They look at Trump and see an egomaniac with a vile tongue who doesn’t even pretend to embrace conservative positions on a multiplicity of issues. They look at his voters and see unwashed masses unwilling to accept his positional flip-flopping, his acts of political convenience. To support their views, the polls show that Trump charts significantly higher among those with less education and income. And they dislike those people—those casual talk radio fans unfamiliar with the machinations of Mitch McConnell yet in love with a nationalized health care fan like Trump.
But the outrage against Trump’s crowd isn’t just unlikely to convince his followers to change their ways—it’s likely to push them further into Trump’s camp. The fact is this: Trump’s supporters like Trump. End of story. They like his persona because it seems unrefined, brusque, brutal. They like that he’s no bulls***, even though he’s bulls*** from elbows to eyeballs.
In fact, that element of bulls*** is one of his most attractive personal features. Trump’s supporters find the bafflement of their supposed intellectual superiors amusing. Trump is running a GFY campaign because he is incapable of running any other campaign. And his supporters are in a GFY mood.
Trump represents turnabout as fair play. Trump’s supporters are the same people who reacted, rightly, with outrage at the way in which the establishment treated Sarah Palin. Today, they look at Trump’s opponents whining about Trump bashing his opposition, and they feel that the shoe is now on the other foot—let the establishment take some on the chin, for a change.
Trump’s supporters are the same people who feel that John McCain was anointed over their strident opposition, despite campaign finance reform, immigration reform, and generally being a crotchety old media panderer dismissive of the grassroots. They listen to Trump’s critics complain that he hasn’t got presidential temperament, remember McCain, and laugh.
Trump’s supporters are the same people who feel that Mitt Romney was anointed despite the fact that he is the only Republican in history to have invented Obamacare. They hear Trump’s critics suddenly find the Donald’s remarks on nationalized health care unpalatable, and they shake their heads.
Trump’s supporters look at the SmartFolks™ and see a bunch of Frank Luntz focus-grouped, Karl Rove-strategized faux geniuses more focused on fighting the base than fighting Hillary Clinton. They are tired of hearing that Donald Trump is the “war on women” from the people who should be fighting Hillary Clinton, who represents an actual war on women (see Broaddrick, Juanita or Willey, Kathleen). They are sick of hearing that Trump is mean to illegal immigrants from people who nod solemnly when they are told that the only path forward for the Republican Party is immigration reform, not assimilation.
Mostly, they’re sick of hearing that they are the bad guys. For all the crap the Tea Party took for running supposedly quixotic primary campaigns against establishment candidates, they turned out for McCain and Romney. The establishment, by contrast, didn’t turn out for Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia, or Richard Mourdock in Indiana, or Chris McDaniel in Mississippi. The establishment informed Tea Partiers that if they only got behind a Republican Congress, that Congress would deliver for them. Instead, Congress gave them sequestration, funding for Obamacare, funding for executive amnesty, a path to victory for Obama on Iran, and funding for Planned Parenthood.
Trump supporters see their political opposition as convenient conservatives, laying down loyalty oaths while happily dumping on their political allies at upper crust cocktail parties. Want those people to go third party with Trump? All Trump’s opponents have to do is keep reinforcing their own image as bullies to Trump but pantywaists unwilling to heap character attacks on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
That Trump supporters’ perception of Trump opponents is at least partially inaccurate isn’t the point. That is their perception. And it won’t be changed by dumping on Trump’s character. The only way to stop The Donald is a slow, steady leeching away of his support by actual conservative candidates. But Trump’s supporters don’t know enough about his politics yet, because Trump’s detractors have been too busy screaming bloody murder over Trump’s bloody Megyn Kelly comments. If Trump’s opponents want to drive Trump out, they’ll have to attack Trump on the issues, because when it comes to character, Trump’s supporters will take the Teflon Don over his most ardent establishment detractors any day of the week.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.