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April 27, 2016

Having won all the NE Super Tuesday contests in what can only be described as a series of landslides, it now looks as though the likely Republican nominee will be Donald Trump.

In a five-state blowout reminiscent of Teddy Roosevelt charging San Juan Hill, Trump outperformed the pollsters pre-race estimates by doubling and even tripling them.

Although Mr. Trump may still be fighting for delegates, with only nine states left with a Republican contest it seems rather more likely than not that the GOP is going to have to deal with his general election candidacy.

In a party whose initials have come to stand for Gridlock Over Progress, that’s a very bitter pill to swallow. How in the world do they get this maverick candidate to hew to the party line?

They really can’t use money, because well, he’s rich. They can’t use their not-so-stellar record of winning previous presidential elections with establishment candidates because well, they haven’t. They can’t stand on their congressional voting successes, since they haven’t had many of any substance.

In short, the only way to get him to change is for them to change.

The best argument Mr. Trump has made in his run for the presidency is one he made early on.

Namely, that the system itself is the cause of the mess we are in now. Nothing his GOP opponents have done to date contradicts that conclusion.

His message is that we aren’t going to move forward in any area until our elected officials stop working to stabilize and optimize their respective parties and careers and start working for the country at large.

In short, they may have to learn that sometimes a deal they don’t like is better than a fight they can’t win.

If Trump wants to win over general election voters, he needs to start pounding that issue at every campaign stop.

Insofar as his Democrat opponent is concerned, that’s a relatively easy argument to make. Her entire party has built its strength on divide to conquer. Division, demagoguery and confrontation is their stock in trade.

That’s not to say that Mrs. Clinton will be a pushover. Make no mistake, Democrats know how to organize voters.

Hillary has been at this game of manipulating voting blocs for more than 30 years. With Bernie Sanders pretty well in the rear view mirror, she has already pivoted to her general election strategy.

Also not to be forgotten is that the people who don’t like Trump are just as passionate as the ones who do, a fact borne out by a little dust-up in Anaheim, CA. that involved both sides pepper spraying each other.

As long as Mr. Trump makes it clear that he is going to be the country’s president, not the “first (insert label of choice) President” the differences between himself and Mrs. Clinton should be fairly easy to define.

Far harder will be winning over his own party.

The country has been watching for eight years while the national GOP legislators dug foxholes and swore to fight to the death, even when there were grounds to compromise.

Given that they were dealing with a president no less partisan and intransigent than they were, perhaps that can be explained away.

If Trump goes on to win the White House, that foxhole mentality is going to have to change.

If the party chooses to take such a hard-line conservative position that not even Pope Francis could meet its standards, it becomes crystal clear where their true loyalties lie.

Having core values is fine, until those values produce strategies that are impossible to implement. That’s known as cutting off your nose to spite your face.

It isn’t impossible. In fact, some of our most prosperous times have been when the power brokers understood that half a pie is better than no pie at all.

Right now, the GOP has it’s knickers in a knot because Trump isn’t conservative enough to suit them.

The only thing Mr. Trump has had going for him up to now is the passionate belief among his faithful that  he will drag the country back from the brink of dissolution.

One interesting factoid from this latest round of voting, as well as the others before, is that in exit polling, electability almost always receives the lowest ranking among the issues that concern his voters the most.

Perhaps that’s just naiveté, but it’s more likely that his supporters just don’t see that as an insurmountable problem.

Even people who have said they have qualms about his lack of specifics believe that he knows what the end result should look like and they are trusting  him to find a way to get there, even if he has to color outside the lines to do it.

For his part, Mr. Trump needs to start to sell the dispassionate business side of his outsized personality.

Insofar as statistics are available, there are simply more Democrat voters than Republicans, particularly if you include some of the newly minted voters, like felons and immigrants with phony papers.

Defeating Hillary Clinton should be easier than one might think. From the Russian reset button to the private server, from her inability to produce results with diplomacy to her abandonment of her staff at Benghazi to the fact that minorities have gained very little of real substance under the Democrats in general, the Clinton campaign has no shortage of negatives ready-made for Trump to exploit.

Although as a political neophyte it has taken Mr. Trump a little while to catch on to how this election thing works, he needs to recognize that general election voters are not looking for the same qualities as they were in the primary season.

People who profess to know Mr. Trump well say he has a disciplined, thoughtful and highly effective side. This would definitely be the time to show it.

Assuming that person actually exists, it’s also time for the GOP stalwarts to get out of his way. The party has been very good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. That’s not a skill they should bring to the table this time.

It’s going to be hard enough for him to beat Hillary and the Democrats, without having to continue to fight this battle on two fronts.

From → op-ed

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