Wrong Epitaph: Trump’s “Damage” To The Republican Brand
The Establishment might be wrong. The “Conventional Wisdom” is that Trump has permanently damaged the “Republican Brand”. The GOP is tarnished and will barely survive. Heard mostly from the dinosaur Establishment, and often said to reflect what the Speaker wants (a Trump defeat) versus what the Speaker privately perceives (a threat to the established order), this Conventional Wisdom ignores several noteworthy Truths.
First, politics has a shorter attention span than “the old days” of, say, the 2000s. This is the era of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook. If it’s not right now, it’s old news. In 2020, a Democrat hoping to smear an opponent by invoking Trump might sound as if he’s invoking Harry Truman or Grover Cleveland.
Second, Trump has drawn away from the Democrat Party many middle class, blue collar workers. He has also invoked many people who never typically voted. Some anecdotal evidence suggests he may poll better among blacks than recent Republican candidates. Like Reagan Democrats, they may never return to their Party, especially if the Democrats keep offering radically leftwing candidates. On the other hand, the Democrat Party has drawn no one away from the Republicans. The Never Trumpers are not becoming Democrats. In their view, they are just waiting for the GOP to return to its senses. When the 2016 dust settles, the sides may not just go back to where they were once before, and it may not be the zero sum gain that many commentators assume.
Third, if Hillary wins, it is likely she will preside over a new recession, the collapse of our healthcare system, and a possible second housing bubble. People will forget about Trump, and Hillary will not be able to Blame Trump for her failures. And do not underestimate the adverse effect of subjecting the nation to four years of her plastic personality and nails-on-chalkboard cackling. Hillary’s handlers have kept her in isolation for most of the Presidential campaign precisely because people hate her the more they are exposed to her. After four years of Hillary Saturation, even Never Trumpers may look back nostalgically at 2016.
The Conventional Wisdom of a Republican doom and gloom relies on old models, old theories, old paradigms. Times and rules have changed. It may be premature to write the GOP’s epitaph, regardless of what happens on November 8th.