THE WASHINGTON POST OPINIONS
Team Trump is kidding themselves when they say the president’s “base” is consistently happy with his outrageous behavior. President Trump’s corrosive tweets and misguided outbursts may appeal to a few of his most die-hard supporters, but by and large, they distract from his agenda and make the task of governing increasingly difficult. The White House continues to say the blunders aren’t really blunders, and instead describes them as purposeful moves used as raw meat to energize the base.
The base deserves better than that.
For a moment, set aside that “base” is an entirely overused word by those in both politics and the mainstream media. Arguing that the president’s so-called base isn’t turned off by his antics is not reason enough to give up on building broader support with voters across the country. Revving the rabid, and appealing to only the most committed of Trump faithful is misguided — and it won’t help Republicans win in November.
President Trump’s latest jaw-dropping blunder is no exception. His comments about immigrants from countries with underdeveloped political and economic systems was a net minus for the Republican Party. Let’s make that clear. His comments are not helpful to building a GOP coalition heading into the midterm elections and beyond. No Republican should be satisfied with, or find solace in, the assurance from a Trump surrogate that the president’s base supports his inexplicable and unproductive comments. For any Republican to suggest that everything is working as it should is either dishonest or dangerously delusional.
Just yesterday, the Washington Post’s Antonio Olivo reported of a young activist’s departure from the Virginia GOP following President Trump’s crass remarks. Trump loyalists are quick to argue that Kyle McDaniel was relatively unknown and that his presence was of little consequence in Virginia, but in the words of Haley Barbour, a former Mississippi governor and Republican legend, politics is about addition. Well, when will Trump begin adding to the Republican coalition? Where is Trump’s support actually growing?
According to Rasmussen’s Trump Approval Index, the percentage of Americans who “strongly approve” of the president has dropped nine points since Inauguration Day. Is Trump’s base beginning to crack? Trump’s team may get satisfaction from believing that what the president says keeps his base energized, but the data paints a more troubling picture. Given the president’s consistently low approval rating and the 11-point lead Democrats hold over Republicans in the Real Clear Politics generic ballot, the Republican Party needs more than just Trump’s purported base to avoid disaster this November.
The president’s behavior turns off some traditional GOP voters, and the White House isn’t making a compelling case to independents and moderates that Trump-led Republicans deserve to stay in power. So, what is the plan for avoiding losses that could cripple the GOP agenda and possibly destroy the Trump presidency? Whatever the answer is, it can’t come down to just relying on the “base.”
By the way, does the White House believe the president’s base is so marginalized and fragile that it would go soft on the president without a constant diet of insulting, racist and inflammatory rhetoric? What happened to the notion that Trump could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue without losing any support? If that is the case, why is constant “base feeding” needed?
The answer is that it is not needed. It is just a lame way to justify the president’s terrible words and deeds.
Trump loyalists can explain away negative poll numbers, defections and the president’s string of blunders, but at some point all the bad omens will lead to bad results.