As if we need more proof of how tone deaf and self-destructive GOP elites can be towards their most reliable voters, the New York Times reports that at a weekend meeting of the Republican Governors Association there was an attempt by some “donors and operatives” to come up with a plan to bar current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump from the presidential debates.
Many national Republican officials are increasingly resigned to Mr. Trump’s looming presence. At a meeting of the Republican Governors Association this week in Aspen, Colo., donors and operatives mused about how to prevent him from hijacking the debate.
One idea that came up was to urge three leading candidates — Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor; Mr. Walker; and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida — to band together and state that they would not participate in any debate in which Mr. Trump was present, using his refusal to rule out a third-party bid as a pretext for taking such a hard line. The thinking, according to a Republican involved in the conversations, was that the lesser-funded prospects who have been eclipsed by Mr. Trump would follow suit, and the TV networks airing the debates would be forced to bar Mr. Trump in order to have a full complement of candidates.
But none of the campaigns have shown any appetite for such solidarity, for reasons ranging from their strategic interests and not wanting to make Mr. Trump a martyr, to fear of making an enemy of Fox News, the preferred cable network of conservatives and the host of the first debate.
Luckily for the GOP cooler heads prevailed but that the idea was even floated at this level is indicative of the Republican Establishment’s most glaring flaw.
The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in 4 of the last 5 presidential elections. The only election won was the re-election of a sitting president (Bush in ’04) during a time of war. Not only are these geniuses still in charge, these geniuses seem to believe that disenfranchising 25% of Republican primary voters (Trump’s support in the most recent national poll) through elite shenanigans is a smart strategy.
Trump is winning for three reasons:
- He treats the media like the left-wing political operatives they really are. His belligerent contempt for these operatives is a breath of fresh air even to those of us not supporting him.
- He had the courage to bring up the issue of illegal immigration and crime, and the courage to not back down from that fight. He also happens to be 100% right on the issue.
- He fights like a Leftist. He hasn’t gone as far as Democrats did in 2012 when they accused Mitt Romney of murdering someone, but he does what’s necessary to stay on offense.
If the Republican Establishment can’t beat Trump, there is no way they will ever beat Hillary, who has a massive advantage over Trump: she’ll have the media on her side. The media is trying to kill Trump and the Establishment still can’t get the job done.
Listen, I’m no highly-paid, inside-inside strategist, but maybe — just maybe — instead of dismissing, marginalizing, attacking, and attempting to disenfranchise Trump’s supporters, the GOP could try to figure out what his appeal is and make their own appeal to those voters?
Again, I’m just a guy on these here Internetz, but with Trump threatening to bolt to a third party, maybe alienating his supporters is the single most dumbest thing anyone who truly wants to beat Hillary could do?
I’m not unsympathetic to the Establishment’s frustration. Trump fights like Obama and Obama cleaned our clock twice. It’s tough being the coyote to someone else’s roadrunner — especially when your snobbishness assured you this could never happen.
All I’m suggesting is that instead of cheating with the debates and alienating Trump’s massive pool of support with insults, if the GOP figures out how to beat Trump honestly, they might be better trained to beat Hillary. Not that any of that will matter if the GOP continues to tell 25% of the base that they don’t want their ignorant, unsophisticated, unwashed hands pulling the lever for us.
To be fair, maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there is a three-dimensional strategy dreamed up by Our Establishment Betters where alienating large chunks of their own voters is the path to victory.
Or maybe the problem is that Our Establishment Betters put their desire to feel smug and superior above their desire to win presidential elections.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC