After more than a year of treating their most passionate voters like they don’t matter at all, the Republican Party is no longer even trying to hide its disdain for conservatives. The surprise success of Donald Trump has thrown the GOP into disarray, ruining their carefully conceived plans of sending Jeb Bush to the general election. And instead of taking a step back, assessing the situation, and letting the voters tell them what they want, the party is desperate to regain control of the election.
“You do not benefit by trying to draft behind Donald Trump and hope that he collapses and his low-information supporters run into your arms,” Rick Wilson, a top Republican strategist, said on CNN this week. “This is a guy who is increasingly leading a fraction of the conservative base into a very dangerous cul-de-sac. He is promising things that he can never deliver. And it is time for Jeb Bush and other folks to start posting up and really comparing and contrasting Donald Trump’s rhetoric with the reality.”
This is how GOP insiders are beginning to talk about the base. It’s not enough now that they are attacking Donald Trump; they are now turning that venom onto his supporters. They talk about how Trump’s numbers have peaked, how he can’t win the nomination with only 20 percent of the vote. What they fail to understand is that no other candidate can succeed without that 20 percent. If the GOP is dead set against throwing their support behind Trump, they’d better figure out a way to lure his voters back to one of their favored candidates. Insulting them – calling them “low-information supporters” – is not the way to go about it. Especially when there’s no indication that the label fits.
There is a tremendous opportunity here for Republicans, and they are letting it sail right past them. Trump has energized a portion of the base that hasn’t been this excited in a long time. Why would you fight that? Why, unless his message is so wildly off-brand that he doesn’t fit into the party? But if that’s true, then Republicans no longer serve the needs of conservative Americans.
You can throw a thousand criticisms at Trump and still have room for more. He’s far from the perfect candidate. But his message resonates for a reason. Conservatives aren’t desperate for a reality TV candidate; they’re desperate for someone who is as fed up with the BS as they are. And, as his campaign has exposed, that BS is coming from the Republican Party as much as it is Obama and Clinton.