Sunday, May 8, 2016

Trump's Triumph & Minnesota Republicans

On the night of the Indiana primary, which effectively sealed Donald Trump's victory as the republican nominee for president, progressive powerhouse and CNN commentator Van Jones cautioned his fellow democrats about mistaking this candidate for one who could easily be beaten. To the contrary, and running against the grain of smugness for which liberalism is justifiably known, Van Jones perceptively admonished his peers to build the sandbags high because "there's a wave coming."

Since Trump has become our nominee (enough with the "presumptive" lingo), Minnesota republicans have displayed their trademark incompetence, dithering and, worst of all, hollowed-out virtue signaling, in trying to fashion a response to the attacks from the well oiled astroturf groups on the Left who believe, mistakenly, that their old playbook can be used once again this cycle.

Elsewhere it would fail aborning: Trump has destroyed the suffocating miasma of political correctness and the unwarranted influence the media has had for too long in the selection process of republican nominees. Please like us, please clap. Those same toadies exist in Minnesota and account in no small measure for why republicans haven't won a statewide race in a decade. Wake me when we have someone who can defeat Tina Flint Smith cum Elena Ceausescu.™

Here it might work because Minnesota republicans don't know how to fight, push back, stand up or advocate for what they believe in, to the extent they believe in anything not up for sale to the highest bidder. Compromise is their m├ętier and they expect to be applauded for routinely surrendering on the most favorable terms possible. That it's a surrender is, to them, beside the point. Look at the terms! No wonder Trump's emphasis on winning scares them so: winning isn't in their vocabulary.

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We have far too many republicans, in or out of office, on Almanac or At Issue or not, who simply don't know how to message in this environment. Of course, they've not very savvy in the best of circumstances and with Trump the mediocrity of Minnesota republicans takes on an especially high profile. But, as Dan Rather would say, "courage."

Overwhelmingly Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. The hackneyed phrase "change election" is certainly warranted in being applied to this one. For Minnesota republicans, not to fasten onto this is malpractice. 

"Yes, I support the nominee as I have every presidential election year. Like those prior nominees, there are some things I agree with and others I don't. But what's clear is the damage President Obama and the far left have inflicted on this country. Hillary wants an Obama third term but the Minnesotans I talk to don't seem interested. Forget Trump as the messenger, we can all agree on the areas that he has highlighted."

One then proceeds to tailor to their area, district or cause those issues which help them gain and maintain traction. There's no shortage: stagnant wages, zero good jobs creation, America's low standing in the world's regard, foolish wars that Hillary will only continue or--Rubio like--start new, i.e., Syria, illegal immigration & its attendant crime wave, the refreshing and correct characterization of the American media (scum) and so on. I would suggest that the variations on these themes are only limited by one's imagination but that quality is in short supply amongst republicans here. 

The DFL, for a change, is looking stale and outdated. Is there anything Trump can't do? The press conferences, press releases, sound bites and quotes in the local liberal media should be laughed at because they're not to be taken seriously. Laugh when they call Trump racist; no one believes it. Laugh when they call Trump misogynist; no one believes it. Whatever the over the top characterization, laughter is the best response. He's had ten months of national coverage, national attacks, and none of those smears have stuck because they're not true in the slightest. In other words Minnesota republicans, he's withstood far more than you ever could and has already done the work for you this cycle. The least you could do is pick up on it.

Republicans on the Iron Range should be flat out running on Trump's themes of populism and nationalism. His appeal to a significant portion of democrats is nowhere more in evidence there. By not affirmatively seizing those themes and echoing them, republicans let democrats escape once more. The very idea of holding Minnesota democrats responsible for failure seems anathema to Minnesota republicans. Strip out Trump: run on Trumpism. I should charge for this column even though it points out only the bleedingly obvious. And to think of those who get paid for helping our candidates routinely lose.

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At present there seems to be a significant Chicken Little brigade in Minnesota republican politics (cringingly they attempt to pass themselves off as the smart set, except they're the type you just know don't read books). They've always existed but this cycle they want more than usual to be liked by the press and the democrats. Some are lobbyists, some are in staff positions or ensconced in low level office. None are leaders and few possess actual skills to make them good in their political role. The chief goal of such types appears to be the approval of similar types. Why republicans haven't won a statewide race in a decade is no mystery.

Running away from Trump this cycle will be a disaster for Minnesota republicans. Using his political phenomenon and resulting political earthquake can yield real benefits. But you have to be good, you have to take the initiative and you have to attack the corrupt left. As John Lennon sang about a different topic "it's easy if you try."

The trying is all. Why not do it? Think if the DFL had socialist Bernie Sanders atop their ticket. Would you see chuckleheads on local political television say that they won't support him for this reason or that? Would you see their leader in the House make a hash of things in declining to endorse him until he was instructed otherwise by his political svengali?

Of course we wouldn't. They'd distance themselves from the least helpful aspects of Bernie, cherry pick themes and issues that work best for them and trash relentlessly the republican opponent. The latter point is key: democrats in this state are shameless, frequently unethical and routinely demagogic. The republicans tend to be weak, insipid and full of unwarranted self regard.

Can this change in a single cycle? The people who said it was going to be Jeb, or Rubio, or Cruz are hardly the ones to ask. Those of us who understood we were witnessing a political upheaval, even as we tried to understand it, have a different view. At a minimum, we're optimistic that things can change in ways never before thought possible. That includes Minnesota republicans becoming politically competent.