Tuesday was a bad day for the Republicans, no matter how you interpret it. Virginia is now a lot more firmly in the hands of the Democrats, New Jersey is led by the Democratic Party, and we now have evidence of what we knew would come to pass: Democratic voter enthusiasm is at an all time high.
That’s bad news for the GOP, which has made record gains across the country during and in the immediate aftermath of the Obama years.
There is a lesson from last night that I think, silently, the GOP is acknowledging, but it is one that the President – the man who most needs to learn the lesson – will not ever acknowledge: Donald Trump’s brand of politics is toxic for the party.
Note the use of the term politics. Policy-wise, Trump has done things mostly right, from a Republican/conservative perspective. His assault on the regulatory state and his calls for tax reform and health care reform are on point. The economy, as a result of his policies, is booming.
But, it is the rhetoric of Donald Trump, what he says and what he does not say, that is a drag on the party.
He is a man who is ready to shoot from the hip with little regard for the impact of his words. That his first reaction to last night’s Virginia election was a slam of the Republican candidate…
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
…is a sign that he is a “If you aren’t with me, you’re against me” kind of guy. His base is with him on this. Take a look at Breitbart’s headlines on the subject.
Get a good long gawk at these pathetic hacks. pic.twitter.com/TiB2ND6iGr
— Jeff B. (@EsotericCD) November 8, 2017
The site, which is second only to Trump’s Twitter account as a barometer of how his base thinks, is practically celebrating Gillespie’s loss. “Republican Swamp Thing” is not something you call a GOP candidate who just lost a swing state to a pro-abortion, pro-gun control Democrat.
Unless, of course, that candidate just wasn’t Trump enough for their tastes.
That’s going to be an issue going forward. Trump is not helping the Republican Party grow… actually, when you look at last night, he’s actively hurting their ability to sustain. Gillespie lost Virginia by more than Trump did a year ago. The Democrats are highly motivated, but moderate Republicans and independents are not motivated to go out and help the GOP maintain their seats if it is simply a test of how loyal you are to Trump.
The Trump-devoted masses will hound and berate you if you don’t show one hundred percent fealty at all times. Trump has proven he himself will take to social media and denounce you in front of millions.
That’s not a reason to support GOP candidates. The Democrats have their reason to go out and vote for their party – they don’t have any Donald Trumps. But, the Republican Party is increasingly becoming the Party of All The Trumps. That is not a sustainable party platform.
The lesson that needs to be learned here, the lesson that Trump will refuse to learn, is that the party needs a leader who invites everyone in. What they have now is a person who is trying his best to kick everyone out.