Is Donald Trump Painting Himself Into a Corner?
After spending over a year insulting, threatening and disrespecting minorities, Donald Trump spent the weekend trying to reach out to minorities while speaking in front of virtually all white audiences. His new campaign managers are indicating that his long awaited “pivot” has started; even though Trump himself has said he’s not going to “pivot” because, as he said, “I am who I am” or something similarly vapid.
What I find fascinating is that Trump has more or less painted himself into a corner. How can he spend the 14 months since his entrance into the presidential contest continuously pandering to the lunatic fringe of the electorate and now back off from the outrageous and revolting promises he’s made? He earned the Republican nomination on a tsunami of anger, fear, racism, callousness, xenophobia and misogyny. The “poorly educated” voters he appeals to love him for his brashness, bravado, political incorrectness and seemingly complete detachment from the truth or reality. Even with overwhelming support from his nearly exclusively white, blue-collar, male voters Trump has no chance to win in November. His new campaign mangers know that without at least some outreach and support from African-Americans and Latinos his already slim chances grow dimmer.
How does he ensure that he doesn’t alienate his base if he starts to moderate some of the outrageous promises he’s made, such as deporting 11 million illegal immigrants and building a “beautiful wall”? If Trump is serious about appealing to minorities he will have to tone down his rhetoric and modify some of the bombastic statements that appeal so much to his base. Of course, he risks losing at least some support from his base if he becomes a saner more mature candidate. However, at this point in the general election, it is likely too late for him to gain enough noticeable support from minorities to make a difference. In fact, he may weaken his position if he loses enough support from the people who carried him to the top of the GOP ticket and fails to gain any traction among minorities.
These are the kinds of quandaries experienced politicians are able to foresee and strategize against. It is the reason so many politicians run fairly conservative campaigns. They understand, or at least have people around them who understand, that going too far in either ideological direction is a sure path to defeat. It is Trump’s own fault, through his bravado, ego, narcissism and know it all nature that got him in this predicament. In the end, it will be Trump’s own character flaws that caused him to paint himself into a corner and ensure his defeat.