Trump plays his old hand in the fight for survival

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Donald was angry. He insisted that the victory had been stolen from him, and he was determined to go public without evidence, even if it was against the Convention, even if no one had attacked the process like this before.

This was in 2006 as Donald Trump’s reality television show The Apprentice had been hit by The amazing race for the Emmy Award in the category “Outstanding Reality Competition Program” three times in a row.

Donald Trump claimed the election was “rigged, corrupted and stolen” at a press conference in the White House on Thursday.Recognition:AP

At the time, Trump didn’t have access to a large Twitter audience, but years later, when he did, he was still upset enough about the losses to tweet about the injustice of it all. He frequently attacked the Emmys through his feed between 2012 and 2014, and when Hillary Clinton mocked him during a debate in 2016, he missed the point and cut her off to say, “[I] should have got it ”.

Under normal circumstances, such a petulance in a public figure can be embarrassing or funny or both.

In Trump, it turned out to be revelatory.

In 2016, he would claim, among other things, that the Republican elementary school he lost in Wisconsin had been manipulated and that his defeat in the Iowa Caucus had also been manipulated. In the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, when pollsters told him he was going to lose, he said it was rigged too. When he won the election but lost the referendum, he claimed that he had somehow legitimately won the former, but that the latter was stolen from him.

Before the 2020 election, he kept making similar claims. In August he told supporters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged. Remember it. This is the only way we can lose this choice, so we have to be very careful. ”

In fact, in the case of an imminent loss, the only result more obvious than Trump’s allegation of betrayal was his use of the courts to back up his unfounded claims.

“You’re Fired”: Donald Trump spruiks The Apprentice in 2006. Recognition:Alamy

In his 2019 Trump biography Supreme Plaintiff, A portrait of Donald Trump in 3500 lawsuits(Yes, Trump started so many) Writer James Zirin writes: “Trump saw litigation only as winning. He sued in no time. He sued over sports; he sued to gain control; and he sued to make a point. He sued to destroy or silence those who crossed it. ”

As Zirin points out, Trump, whose mentor was mob lawyer Roy Cohn, has no regard for the law beyond its use as a weapon that can be used by those ruthless and wealthy enough to use it in relentless self-interest to use.

“All this deviant behavior would be problematic for a businessman,” he writes. “But the effects of such behavior on a man who is President of the United States are nothing short of terrifying.”

The implications that Zirin is referring to are those that the world is now grappling with. A lost leader who does not leave the stage, does not support the change of power and does not let his party move on.

It didn’t have to be like that

Eight years ago, the Republican Party lost a second election to Barack Obama’s Democratic Party.

His candidate was Mitt Romney, a role model of civic virtue compared to Trump, but nonetheless an advocate of a sharp-edged ideology.

Consistent with prevailing views within the party, Romney spoke out against immigration reform, suggesting that the estimated 47 percent of Americans who did not pay federal income taxes were unworthy of his concern.

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama save during the second presidential debate in October 2012.
Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama save during the second presidential debate in October 2012.Recognition:AP

„[M]Your job is not to worry about these people. I will never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and take care of their lives, “he told a room full of donors in the presence of a live microphone.

Romney released a statement Friday saying Trump was “wrong” for saying the election was “rigged, corrupt and stolen”.

“This damages freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that underpin the republic, and recklessly ignites destructive and dangerous passions,” he said.

After losing the 2012 election, GOP grandees commissioned an analysis of their candidates, policies and language, a study known simply as an “autopsy,” fearing the party would no longer be elected.

In short, the autopsy revealed that if the party continued to target a shrinking group of older white men and women, it would die.

“The public perception of the party is at record lows,” read the autopsy in part. “Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities mistakenly believe that Republicans don’t like them or want them in the country.

“When Hispanic Americans realize that a GOP candidate or candidate doesn’t want them in the United States [ie. self-deportation]they will ignore our next sentence. It doesn’t matter what we say about education, work or the economy.

“Other minority communities, including Americans from Asia and the Pacific, also see the party as dismissive.”

Many in the party took the message to heart. Some, like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, made it a central part of their election strategy for 2016.

Trump, then a television star whose concerns did not include the long-term future of the Republican Party, also took note of the document. He even fired a tweet.

“New @ RNC Report calls for the adoption of “comprehensive immigration reform @ RNC Do you have a death wish ”

A Republican pollster and strategist who has written extensively on the importance of the autopsy is Whit Ayres, author of 2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in New America.

“It’s like Donald Trump read my book carefully and did just the opposite,” says Ayres.

As the Republican Party establishment figured out how to deal with diverse populations – especially women and minorities – Trump was betting that he could take the side and win another election by speaking to a grassroots base that was white Men without a college degree turned.

“He was able to win with this old coalition,” says Ayres. “But at some point it will catch up with you. The question is, how long is it after all? ”

What worries Ayres about the future of the GOP is that little happened to Trump’s significant support base in the party in these elections to convince them to embrace change.

The party has fared far better than expected in the races in Congress, and it has increased its influence in the crucial state of Florida, where it has done particularly well among Hispanic Americans.

For that, says leading Floridian political scientist Dr. Susan MacManus, the Republican Party should thank the Democratic Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

“The country of origin within this community is very important,” she says. “And the Trump campaign, with the help of knowledgeable Latino Republicans in South Florida, has been able to successfully target Cubans, Venezuelans, Colombians, Nicaraguans and Hondurans and form a very close and effective coalition.”

What united these groups, says MacManus, is an elementary distrust of the socialist regimes from which so many have fled. By refusing to distance itself from the socialist label, the Democratic Party left made it easier for Republicans to demonize Biden. The Biden campaign made matters worse by not properly understanding and addressing Florida’s Latino people.

Trump was thrilled with Biden's support among Latinos, especially in Florida.
Trump was thrilled with Biden’s support among Latinos, especially in Florida.Recognition:AP

The messages that helped the party speak to Mexican Americans in states like Nevada and Arizona failed in the larger state of Florida.

“We have the most diverse Latino populations from all 50 states. The Republicans here are well aware of this, and they were the Democrats, which is why the Democrats lost Florida. ”

Even so, Ayres believes the autopsy’s thesis was correct, and there is more evidence of this in the 2020 election.

As we spoke on Saturday morning, the GOP’s margins were wiped out in and around cities like Atlanta, Georgia and Phoenix, Arizona and the Biden team was preparing to win.

The same trend had resulted in Republican strongholds in North Carolina and even Texas turning to the Democrats. The GOP had mostly won in smaller urban and rural outskirts.

“The Republicans were basically trading large, upscale, fast-growing districts for smaller, scaled-down, slower-growing districts. And that’s not a formula for long-term success, ”says Ayres.

However, Trump’s concern is not his party’s long-term success.

By questioning the legitimacy of the elections, he has broken belief not only in the great traditions of American democracy, but also in the Republican Party’s strongest media ally, Fox News, whom he blames for his early prediction that Biden Arizona and the winner is.

Some of the station’s more extravagant, loyal commentators reiterate some of Trump’s claims, but the news presenters increasingly challenge him.

Fox anchor Bret Baier bluntly checked him out after alleging election fraud from the podium in the White House press conference room Thursday night.

When asked if he is concerned about the long-term damage Trump’s post-election behavior could do to the party or the nation, Ayres is confident.

At some point the party will switch its news to minorities, he says, “because you can’t get blood out of a stone.”

So should the party’s leadership stand up against Trump and ask him to restrict his behavior?

“Nobody can get Donald Trump to moderate his behavior. He cannot moderate his own behavior, ”says Ayres.

“He’ll just be gone [at the inauguration] in 78 days. And American politics will have started all over long before that. ”

Nick O’Malley is the National Environment and Climate Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He is also a senior writer and former US correspondent.

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