Friday, August 19, 2016

Trump has a new enabler-in-chief -- but who will this strategy add to the support he already has?

Since the Republican primary, Trump has basked in his defeat of the 16 rivals for the nomination.   He saw no reason to change the free-wheeling appeal to angry white voters that fill his rally seats.   Why, he insists, should he change?

He never seems to grasp that he won with a plurality, not a majority, of just Republican primary voters and that he would have to expand that base to win the general election.  Yes, he won 16 million primary votes.   But to win the general election, he will need something closer to 60 million votes.   And there just are not that many angry white, working class men without college degrees.

So Republican party leaders and his own advisers pressured him to adopt a more disciplined, stay-on-message demeanor in hopes of broadening his base. Trump made half-hearted attempts, uncomfortably reading a teleprompter speech from time to time.  It didn't work;  because he couldn't really put his heart into it.   He was unhappy, out of his element.   Every time he gave a scripted speech, he would follow it, often within hours, by tweeting or saying something outrageous that promptly undid the feeble attempt to appear more like a traditional presidential candidate.

Now that has all been thrown out the window.  No more pretending to be something he's not.  Trump will be Trump;   and, if he loses, he loses.   As he said, if he's going to lose, he'd rather do it having been genuinely who he is.

For a narcissist, what's the solution?    Get someone who mirrors you and reinforces your thoughts and feelings, affirms your decisions, someone who encourages you to be You.   That's what Trump has found -- his mirror-self with a few more skills and more knowledge.   Steve Bannon is perfect, because he is not simply a yes-man;   he is a skilled propagandist and publicist who happens to think the same way Trump thinks.  They both revel in the fever swamps of conspiracy and false, outrageous tales.  They both traffic in insults, anti-immigrant rants, and targeted bigotry;

Bannon mirrors Trump in that same free-wheeling, go-from-the-gut, appeal to the angry white voters.  For months, Bannon has been encouraging Trump not to try to make Republican donors and officials feel comfortable but to run more fully as an outsider and an unabashed nationalist.   In fact, Bannon is even more of a hater of the Republican establishment, more of a conspiracy theorist, more of a racist -- than Trump is.

Bringing Bannon into an official "message CEO" position in the campaign is a major move for  Trump to take back his campaign, to stop trying to be someone he is not.   What we can expect is doubling down on what won the primaries.  For Trump, that's the great solution.

I'm realizing that, for Trump the Narcissist, being affirmed is even better than winning.   Or, rather, being affirmed IS winning.

However, from the standpoint of the Republican party, for the country, and even for the Trump campaign itself, this is not an election-winning strategyOn MSNBC Wednesday night, Joy Reed asked exactly the right question in her interview of Steve Cortes, businessman and surrogate spokesman for Trump.    Framing the question as the Trump srategy reverting to the free-wheeling embrace of the angry right," Joy asked Cortes:
"Who is this designed to resonate with that are not already Trump supporters?"
Exactly.   This is a great strategy for solidifying that small base of support from the niche audience who attend his rallies.    But it will further drive away the ones he's already losing and chip away at the margins of his core.  It adds nothing except more noise and emotion.   Predictably, the Trump surrogate ran away from the question, even though Joy tried three times to pin him down.   Because the answer is:   It adds no one.


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