Conventional wisdom has it that presidential primary contenders appeal to the diehard activists in their party’s base in order to clinch the nomination, only to move to the proverbial center in the general election. But it is not so farfetched that the GOP nominee would have to compete with Trump for the isolated red meat Republican voters by moving even more to the right — so far to the right that even his mother wouldn’t recognize him.
This comes at a time of public backlash against Republican policies. Most Americans disagree with the Tea Party and their anti-big government rallying cry, while most agree with the Occupy movement that the nation’s economic structure is out of whack and favors the wealthy few. Even a majority of Tea Party supporters oppose cuts to Medicare and social security, while a majority of all people, including Republicans, favor tax increases for the rich.
Nationwide, Congressional Democrats are ahead of Republicans in a composite of recent polls. This comes as House Speaker John Boehner’s compromise with Democrats to extend the payroll tax cut for two months has led to dissension in the GOP ranks.
Plus, Obama is way ahead with Latino voters with up to a 3-to-1 margin, and enjoys over 90 percent approval among African-Americans, according to recent polls. These voters will play a crucial role in the upcoming election. And these demographic groups would seem to be out of the reach of the Republicans, regardless of their nominee.
Across the nation, the GOP strategy is to appeal to a narrow segment of the electorate, and doubling down on dumbness, extremism and the old racial animosities. These days, conservative simply is not radical enough.
After Alabama passed the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant law, Latino workers have fled the state. Now farmers want to replace migrant laborers with the state’s mostly black prison population. The Justice Department nixed South Carolina’s voter ID law on the grounds that it discriminates against minority voters.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul is in the hot seat for publishing racist newsletters about black men and race wars. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R, Wisconsin), another Republican congressman had to apologize for comments he made about the first lady’s posterior. And recall efforts are on track against the union busting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and four Republican state senators.
There is every indication that the current Republican presidential field is on board with a harsh, hard-right strategy against Latinos, Muslims, gay marriage and abortion. Under these circumstances alone, appealing to a mainstream electorate would prove difficult.
With the added dynamic of Trump, a bona fide birther in the race, the eventual Republican candidate will spend precious time debating the president’s citizenship in order to keep the base in the fold. That is time not spent on trying to appeal to moderates and independents, which the Republicans will not attract in any case if the main policy issue is birth certificates.
And remember that because of their voter ID, anti-immigration and other policies, the GOPmust write off the entire black vote and most of the Latino vote in 2012, which it did not appear to want in the first place.
In other words, a Trump candidacy forces the Republican nominee to fight for the party’s own core supporters, while turning off the moderate and independent voters that a general election victory requires. During this holiday season, President Obama and his supporters couldn’t have asked for a better gift.
Republished with the author’s permission from The Grio.