For Donald Trump, the general election began nearly eight weeks ago when Cruz and Kasich dropped out of the race. During that time, and up until Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in California, the Trump campaign enjoyed an advantage of forcing Clinton to fight a war on two fronts--a war that, at least to some extent, she’s still fighting.
With Corey Lewandowski out and Paul Manafort at the helm, we can expect to see the Trump campaign shift more fully to the task at hand of the general election. This transition was not only necessary, but served two specific goals: 1) give the impression of a campaign reboot after a week of unforced errors and 2) install Corey as a contributor at CNN. His immediate follow-up interview with Dana Bash following his “firing” to sing Trump’s praises was all part of that play. If there was anyone the campaign could send to the media to fill this role--and to do it well--it’s Corey.
Manafort has begun taking the necessary steps toward transitioning to a general campaign mentality. From being fully deployed in 16 battleground states with thousands of political organizers in place, to integration with the RNC (something Hillary has not yet done with the DNC), the Trump campaign is beginning to look and feel like a true presidential campaign. Dominating the news cycle with earned media week after week was essential in a primary contest with 17 other candidates, and it may be prudent in the general, but moving forward earned media must be seen merely as supplementary to a more hardened and serious general campaign strategy.
With this pivot to the general, we must recognize there will be a degree of Trump softening his tone and recalibrating his message. For you autistes out there, this does not mean Trump is cucking himself, nor does it mean that he is in the process of being neutered by Manafort. In fact, not one of Trump’s policy positions has changed. What will change is the language Trump uses to discuss these policy positions. The (((media))) has already started to use this sea change as a means of discrediting Trump by driving a wedge between him and his committed base of support. We should be vigilant of this as a strategy and not poke holes in the bottom of our own boat, which is ultimately what (((they))) want us to do.
With that in mind, we are also the first line of defense in the event that Trump does legitimately start to cuck on these issues. If/when that actually happens, it’s up to us to ignite the firestorm that aims to get Trump back on track.
This is not one of those times.
One major piece of criticism which I would offer at this point would be Trump’s handling of Paul Ryan. While I understand that the Ryan issue must be handled carefully, I don’t think Trump has been aggressive enough in controlling Ryan’s behavior. His willingness to speak out against Trump and engage in activity that is counter to the objectives of Trump’s campaign (meetings with Romney, Tim Cook fundraiser, etc.) is inexcusable. It’s no secret that Ryan counts on Trump losing so he can run against Hillary in 2020.
Trump should be more aggressive about responding to Ryan’s hostility.
A first step toward that might be to hold a rally in Ryan’s district and invite his primary opponent, Paul Nehlen, to speak at event. The race there is starting to heat up and time is of the essence in terms of getting Ryan in line, or getting him out. If Ryan still doesn’t want to play ball, Trump should endorse and fund Nehlen. He’d be doing himself a huge favor in the long-run.
A move like that would also send a clear message to the subversive portion of the GOP that has so far suffered few consequences for their disloyalty. Believe me, we don’t want to be best friends with these people, we just need them in order to get Trump into the White House, which is, for the next several months, the only thing that matters.
The past several weeks should be a case study in the importance of steeling ourselves against the narrative and strengthening our resolve.
Immediately following the California primary, we began to see the first of many misleading polls from NBC, ABC, Reuters, and the Washington Post that suggested Trump was 10 to 15 points behind Hillary. In a coordinated effort, the media began pushing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was in a tailspin. The exact same tactic was trotted out in 2012 to cement a storyline that the election was already unwinnable in June.
Today we’re seeing that narrative discredited and discarded in the wake of Brexit. This has lent support to the notion put forward by Trump’s camp and many others that polling data not only doesn’t reflect the direction in which the political winds are blowing, but is being willfully misrepresented by the media and being inaccurately compiled by their pollsters.
The lesson here is that we can’t get caught up in feeling low energy over what will be the first of many tactics used to try to avert disaster for Clinton and the left at large. They want us to feel like we’re losing. The ultimate goal of the left isn’t just to stop Donald Trump, it’s to completely demoralize Trumpism itself. We cannot let them win.
As we move from one week to the next, with each successive news cycle more replete with attempts to undermine and discredit Trump than the last, try to keep one thing at the forefront of your mind at all times: Our side is winning. We’re not only winning here in America, but we’re winning in Europe too. We will keep winning so long as we have the resolve to do so.
Winners don’t think about losing.