According to a new story in Politico, Sen. John McCain – one of the first Republicans to find himself in Donald Trump’s crosshairs last summer – is fretting about his re-election bid. Pursuing his sixth term as Arizona’s U.S. senator, McCain was recorded at a private fundraiser last month talking about how Trump might make this one of his most difficult campaigns.
“If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life,” McCain said. “If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I’ve never seen in 30 years.”
That concern is widespread, and it may actually be one of the primary reasons that the Republican establishment has resisted Trump so vigorously. The party is convinced that there is no path forward for the Republican Party without Hispanic support, and they are convinced that there is no Hispanic support without amnesty. Even if there are holes in that logic, Trump represents something more than mere border enforcement. By running on a platform that includes universal deportation and a wall, he has become a symbol of hate for many Hispanic-Americans.
It goes without saying that much of this is due to the media’s coverage of Trump, but it doesn’t do any good to whine about it. It is what it is, and no one has come up with a coherent strategy to change it. As we’ve seen over and over again, the media requires no facts to weave a narrative. We can save some frustration by remembering that this is who they are, this is what they do, and we can’t get around it.
Of course, Republicans like John McCain understand this. Their solution is to appease the liberal press. Oh, you want us to be more like this? Okay. Gotta stay relevant, after all. Gotta move with the times.
Trump, on the other hand, took an unprecedented approach. The day he entered the race, the media gave him a smackdown so vicious that any reasonable observer would have concluded that his campaign would last about a week. He would come out, make one of those pathetic politician/celebrity apologies we’ve all seen a million times, and by December, no one would remember that he was actually in the race at one point.
Instead, he did the unthinkable. Instead of apologizing, he doubled down. And for the rest of the primary season, he repeated this one-two strategy at will, gaining in popularity with every round. It wasn’t that Trump supporters agreed with every controversial thing he said, it was that they were (and are) enamored with a man with that much social and political courage.
According to just about every political analyst in the country, Trump has to find a way to soften his image if he wants to win the general.
If he takes that advice, Hillary Clinton will be our next president.
It may, frankly, be impossible for Trump to change his disastrous numbers among Hispanics. But if it is possible, it cannot be done in the way the media and the Washington intelligentsia prescribes. More than any other thing, Trump’s success is dependent on his refusal to bend to political pressure. If he suddenly morphs into Mr. Political Correctness, the magic will vanish and his supporters will abandon him overnight. The Trump Hardcores are willing to accept a degree of liberalism from their guy; they are not fooling themselves about his conservative credentials. They will not accept a Donald Trump who starts acting like the typical Republican nominee.
As for down-ticket Republicans, they are making a catastrophic mistake if they choose to run against Trump in the fall. There’s no realistic scenario where Trump loses and Republicans win on the undercard. This is going to be all or nothing.
On the other hand, faithful Trump voters who notice that their local Republican is fiercely anti-Trump may find themselves in a punishing mood on election day.