Trump Ignores Reluctant Conservative Supporters at His Peril

Donald Trump is on the fast track to approval depths last plumbed by George W. Bush, or at least that’s what many Democrats hope. RealClearPolitics has his approval at 41.1 percent — and trending downward.

But without a major change in the political environment, Trump’s ratings won’t sink that much lower. Why? Because he has already burned off the public benefit of the doubt normally afforded to new presidents. In other words, those that could disapprove of him because of his clownish behavior or rank bigotry already do.

Any further decrease in his popularity will have to come from disaffected Republicans and conservative independents.

Until the health-care debacle, this was an unlikely prospect. But now it may be inevitable. Read more “Trump Ignores Reluctant Conservative Supporters at His Peril”

Don’t Count on Republicans in Congress to Tame Trump

Many center-right commentators in the United States opposed Donald Trump during the Republican primaries. When he nevertheless won the nomination, some halfheartedly threw their support behind Hillary Clinton to try to stop him.

Now that he has been elected anyway, they are hoping Republicans in Congress will rein him in.

Don’t count on it. Read more “Don’t Count on Republicans in Congress to Tame Trump”

After Trump’s Defeat, Republicans Must Purge His Insurgents

Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29 (Gage Skidmore)

If, as expected, Hillary Clinton humiliates Donald Trump in America’s presidential election next week, Republicans must quickly stamp out his nativist insurgency — or risk a hostile takeover by his supporters.

The immediate fight will be in Congress, where Republicans could face two big decisions:

  1. Relent and allow Judge Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s relatively centrist nominee, to take Antonin Scalia’s place on the Supreme Court or dig in and risk Hillary Clinton nominating a more left-wing justice in January.
  2. Approve the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a strategic and trade initiative with eleven other Pacific Rim nations that most Republicans support in principle — assuming Obama sends it to the Senate for ratification — or refuse to give the president a final “win” on his way out and risk the treaty being scuttled as a result of Clinton’s stated opposition to it.

In both cases, Republican lawmakers are torn between doing the right thing and appeasing their hard-right base, which is now in thrall to Trump.

Principled conservatives should be able to justify approving Garland (Clinton’s pick would be worse) and TPP (there was a time when Republicans supported free trade and containing China).

But principled conservatism is not what Trump and his movement are about. Read more “After Trump’s Defeat, Republicans Must Purge His Insurgents”

Trump Accelerates Trends That Could Realign Parties

American voters Davidson North Carolina
Voters listen to a speech by Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12 (Hillary for America/Alyssa S.)

Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy in the United States is accelerating three trends that could reshape the country’s two-party system: the consolidation of lower-educated white voters in the Republican Party and the flight of college-educated whites and minority voters to the Democrats.

New York magazine reports that Hillary Clinton’s party is trading white working-class supporters for suburban Republicans, a trend that is reshaping the electoral map: Whereas Trump weans white voters away from the Democrat in Northeastern Rust Belt states such as Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Clinton is making inroads in the suburbs of Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

This is deliberate, writes David Wasserman in The New York Times.

The Clinton campaign calculates that its candidate is likelier to prevail by “disqualifying” Mr Trump — using ads to make the idea of voting for him socially unacceptable in professional suburbs — among additional well-educated voters (in states like North Carolina) than by holding on to working-class voters tempted by Mr Trump’s populism (in states like Ohio).

Trump’s misogyny, his sexism and the many accusations of sexual misconduct against him have made him particularly vulnerable among educated women.

FiveThirtyEight reports that polls show an average 15-point gender gap in Clinton’s favor. That is double Barack Obama’s lead among women over Mitt Romney four years ago. Read more “Trump Accelerates Trends That Could Realign Parties”

How Can Ryan Possibly Believe Trump Should Be President?

Republican House speaker Paul Ryan made headlines on Monday when he said he could no longer defend Donald Trump, his party’s presidential nominee.

But it didn’t take long for commentators to point out that Ryan hadn’t withdrawn his endorsement. So we have the spectacle of the most powerful elected Republican in the country saying he can no longer “defend” his party’s nominee while still supporting the same person to become president of the United States.

Hypocritical? Of course. And for those of us who had high hopes for Ryan, it is profoundly disappointing as well. Read more “How Can Ryan Possibly Believe Trump Should Be President?”

At Long Last, Republicans Abandon Their Nominee

Some people in my Twitter feed are incredulous that it took particularly lewd comments from Donald Trump about women, made in 2005, for conservatives to abandon him.

On a tape that was published by The Washington Post, the Republican nominee can be heard bragging about groping women. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he said, in what weren’t even the worst of his comments.

Trump apologized, but not before Democrats and Republicans had pointed out what he described was sexual assault.

Even his vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence, said he could not defend Trump.

Other Republicans have been less forgiving. Check out FiveThirtyEight, which counts dozens of high-level officials withdrawing their endorsements. Read more “At Long Last, Republicans Abandon Their Nominee”

Papers, Appalled by Trump, Abandon Republicans En Masse

The Detroit News broke with 143 years of support for the Republican Party this week to endorse Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, arguing that Donald Trump is “unprincipled, unstable and quite possibly dangerous. He can not be president.”

The Arizona Republic went further. It has supported Republicans since 1890 but this year backs Hillary Clinton, writing that her flaws “pale in comparison” to Trump’s, whose “inability to control himself or be controlled by others represents a real threat to our national security.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer, Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle have also broken with longstanding traditions to support the Democrat this year. The latter calls Trump “a danger to the republic.”

The conservative New Hampshire Union Leader and Richmond Times-Dispatch have thrown their support behind Johnson.

The prospect of a Trump Administration even convinced USA Today, which has never endorsed a presidential candidate, to implore its readers to “resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote,” the paper writes — “just not for Donald Trump.” Read more “Papers, Appalled by Trump, Abandon Republicans En Masse”

Conservatives Come to Terms with What They’ve Done

The one good thing that may come of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy is an awareness on the American right that it has done real damage to the Republican Party and indeed the country.

Not all conservatives are ready to admit that Trump is the end of the line for a movement that has for decades fed off people’s anxieties and undermined their faith in institutions. But for some, Trump is making clear what the politics of grievance and anti-government can lead to.

A spat between two right-wing commentators — Sean Hannity of Fox News and Bret Stephens of the The Wall Street Journal — is a preview of the blood feud we can expect on the right post-November if indeed Trump loses the election.

Hannity has preemptively blamed center-right Republicans, arguing that the likes of House speaker Paul Ryan and Senate leader Mitch McConnell have been harsher on Trump “than they’ve ever been in standing up to Barack Obama and his radical agenda.”

He said on his radio show, “You created Donald Trump, all of you. Because of your ineffectiveness, because of your weakness, your spinelessness, your lack of vision, your inability to fight Obama.” Read more “Conservatives Come to Terms with What They’ve Done”

Parties Can’t Wait Out the Insurgency

Mainstream Labour politicians in the United Kingdom and sensible Republicans in the United States have adopted the same strategy to cope with the attempted hostile takeovers of their parties: wait out the insurgency and hope that things return to normal after what can only be a crushing defeat for Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump, respectively.

There is of course little the far-left Corbyn and the right-wing nationalist Trump have in common, except that they are each remarking their parties in their own image.

And therein lies the danger for non-Corbyn Labour and the anti-Trump Republicans: the longer these men serve as their leaders, the less control they have over their destiny. Read more “Parties Can’t Wait Out the Insurgency”

Descendants of Northern Europeans Resisted Trump

An interesting observation in The American Interest, where Michael Barone, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes that support for businessman Donald Trump in the Republican primaries broke down along ethnic lines.

Certain ethnic groups resisted Trump, he notes: Mormons, Dutch Americans in northwest and central Iowa and western Michigan, German- and Scandinavian Americans in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest states.

Others tilted toward Trump, including Italian Americans living in and around the New Yorker’s home state. Those areas of Florida with the largest number of migrants from New York and the Northeast also supported him.

Examining the returns, I argued that Trump fared poorly with those groups with large degrees of what scholars Charles Murray and Robert Putnam have called social connectedness or social capital and did very well with groups with low social connectedness. His percentages in Appalachia — from southwest Pennsylvania through Tennessee, northern Alabama and Mississippi — were especially large.

That’s the Greater Appalachia region where you’ll find what Walter Russell Mead has called Jacksonian Americans: descendants of the Scotch-Irish who now describe their ethnicity as simply “American” and who have historically been mistrustful of big business and big government alike. Read more “Descendants of Northern Europeans Resisted Trump”