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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Should Trump change so as to appeal to a broader demographic of voters?

Ask the average Democrat if it’s important to target and win over a certain voter classification (racial group) or demographic and you’ll invariably hear “absolutely.” Ask a conservative the same question and you might get a reply, “Not at all. Conservative principles appeal to everyone if they’re presented properly.”

Depending on their beliefs a Republican could be in the middle, thinking older Americans or college educated Trump and Korean prisonerssuburbanites are the path to victory for the GOP – but unfortunately all-but writing off minority groups.

Who’s right? Can the Democrats sustain themselves by focusing on segregated clusters as opposed to presenting an agenda with universal appeal to everyone? What might sound great to black voters in cities may not strike a chord with rural white folks.

Political experts spend entire careers trying to solve this dilemma. Karl Rove, for example, is famous for breaking down geographic regions in order to micro-target voters. But did George W. Bush really win Ohio in 2004 because of the same-sex marriage issue and its saliency with socially conservative rural residents? It’s a question for history.

For now, the GOP would do well to pay attention to the young, a demographic the party has typically struggled with. Is there a key to winning over a generation that’s impossible to pin down? It may be simpler than you think.

Ben Shapiro wrote at The Weekly Standard, “[First,] Conservatives should celebrate every victory for their policies earned by President Trump; they should praise him to the skies for them. Conservatives should laugh along with Trump when he correctly attacks phony media coverage. But they should not humor him over his personal failings, proclaim him a David-like figure in the absence of David-like holiness, or shrug off his various imbecilities and vile utterances simply because they like his policies.

“Young Americans aren’t judging Trump. They’ve already judged him. They’re judging you and determining whether or not they can ever vote for the same candidates you endorse based on whether or not they admire your character. That doesn’t mean Trump can’t win re-election or win over young people. But that requires him to change his character, and it requires us to call on him to do so.

“Second, conservatives must argue in moral terms, and they must use moral terminology young Americans understand. This means learning to argue on secular grounds rather than religious grounds and recognizing that tolerance is a key value to young Americans. Fortunately, tolerance of opposing viewpoints is also a key value for small-government conservatives.”

Shapiro’s piece is very long and well-worth a complete read if you have time. The gist of it is younger voters today are much more liberal than previous generations but they also tend to be more inclined to libertarian free-thinking. In other words, their values are liberal but they also feel the government shouldn’t be overly involved in personal issues like marriage or religion.

Seeing as Shapiro leans towards the #NeverTrump side of the conservative spectrum it’s no surprise he feels empowered to comprehensively touch on Trump’s character. Shapiro argues that the recent policy victories of conservatives and Republicans aren’t taking hold with the age group because young people haven’t yet fought the ideological battles over character and politics that rocked the country in the 90’s during the Bill Clinton scandals.

Shapiro’s hypothesis sounds good and is definitely a plausible explanation for why young Americans aren’t identifying with Trump the same way older folks do. From my own observations I’d say today’s youth just doesn’t care about politics or policy the same way people used to. The smart phone generation seems more preoccupied with what’s trending on social media than they do about tax cuts, repealing Obamacare or beefing up the defense budget.

And while I agree with Shapiro that more of a secular approach should be used to appeal to this demographic it doesn’t mean Republicans or conservatives need to hide their views in shame. For example, it’s sufficient to make a pro-life argument with facts, such as the viability of the unborn is being moved back all the time (which contradicts Roe v. Wade) and a baby is not just a “tissue mass” but a human being with a beating heart that shows up on an ultrasound test.

To synopsize: young people aren’t dumb, they’re just not very well informed.

Shapiro is also correct in suggesting conservatives must continue to judge Trump objectively. The president seems to be enjoying a particularly good stroke of luck lately with his well-received decision to dump the Iran deal being paired with his upcoming meeting with NORK dictator Kim Jong-un. The middle of the night press event last Thursday morning (when Trump greeted the return of Secretary of State Pompeo with three Christian former captives of North Korea) was sheer brilliance.

Only a showman of Trump’s quality would understand the impact of such a thing. But would young voters truly get it? Are they even paying attention? Do they even know where North Korea is? Maybe the Trump camp needs to look into spreading the word through Snapchat in addition to Twitter and Facebook.

Time will tell. The media won’t help in any case. Journalists are so blinded by Trump-hatred that they’re completely incapable of reporting objectively. Senator Ted Cruz talked about the phenomenon last week. Pete Kasperowicz reported in the Washington Examiner, “Sen. Ted Cruz said Thursday that the anti-Trump press is so opposed to President Trump that it's covering stories nobody cares about, like Stormy Daniels' ongoing lawsuit against him.

“’Most of the media, they're just out of their mind,’ Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News. ‘They have what I call Trump Derangement Syndrome, where all they can do is attack the president all day long on the scandal of the day.’

“He said in Texas, nobody cares about the Stormy Daniels case, which some networks were playing up even as Trump helped ensure the return of three U.S. citizens who were detained in North Korea.”

Cruz made an excellent point. If a conservative Republican legislator is presiding at a town hall meeting with his or her constituents, what’re the odds of being asked to comment on the Stormy Daniels case? Or Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion/obstruction of justice investigation? The media harps on such things extensively but the average person is sick to death of listening to the back-and-forth over nothing. It's nearly impossible to tell what’s going on behind the scenes and the media’s coverage is heavily slanted against Trump – how does it impact someone’s life?

The potential peace between the U.S. and North Korea, on the other hand, is not only attention-grabbing it’s something people really care about. There are signs even Democrats are beginning to give Trump credit for his efforts to lure the communists to the negotiating table in the name of cooperation and to make the world safer.

Anna Giaritelli of the Washington Examiner reported last week, “President Trump's approval rating for his handling of North Korea has jumped 20 points among Democrats over the past month, according to a CNN poll released Thursday.

“The May 2-5 survey was taken prior to the Thursday arrival of three Americans who had been held captive by North Korea for two years, but still found Democratic approval of Trump jumped from 6 percent to 26 percent since March 22-25.

“Among all parties, 77 percent of U.S. adults approve of Trump's plan to meet in-person with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which has been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. That figure climbed 15 points since last March 22-25.”

The same survey indicated 62 percent of Democrats approve of Trump’s plan to meet Jong-un next month. Heck, even CNN’s commentator was astonished that a quarter of Democrats favor the president’s policies on North Korea, virtually an unheard-of level of support for the minority party and Trump.

It's more than just North Korea, too. Trump trumpeted the capture of five top ISIS fighters on the same day he met Pompeo and the freed Christian prisoners. Perhaps because the campaign against the Islamic State has been such a resounding success it’s not really receiving much play in the American media. U.S. casualties have been kept to a minimum all along, too. Trump said if he was elected he would be in it to win it – and he keeps his word.

Why is the media treating Trump’s winning with such a cavalier disconnect? If Americans were still dying in middle eastern streets every day – as they were in Iraq a dozen years ago – would the media pay more attention?

Then there’s Trump’s action last week to cancel Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal to consider. Not surprisingly Trump drew quite a bit of praise from conservatives for taking a bold position and then following through with it.

Former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka wrote at The Hill, “John Bolton may be President Trump's new national security advisor, but [last week]'s decision [to pull out of the Iran deal] is not about violent, externally initiated regime-change.

“It is about waking up to the extant threats we face and dealing with them in the appropriate fashion. It is about a world that is always safer when America leads and does so in ways that comport with our founding and eternal principles. The JCPOA decision is also about much more than Iran or the Middle East. It is about a non-politician who is now the most powerful man in the world and who sees things as they are, unencumbered by ideological blinders, the need for some narcissistic ‘legacy’ or caving to the persistently wrong advice provided by the so-called experts of ‘the swamp.’

“Today is just the beginning. Now President Trump must use the ‘Pyongyang method’ to ensure that Iran deems its plans untenable and so surrenders to a world where its behavior will no longer be permitted to continue.”

As has been pointed out many times in the past, one of the main knocks on Trump during the 2016 campaign (both in the primaries and general election) was his assumed inexperience in the foreign sphere. As a filthy rich real estate tycoon with a gold plated brand full of consumer products (steaks, water, wine, ties…etc…) and high-end exclusive golf country clubs, Trump was deemed to be light on the necessities of representing the most powerful nation on earth in discussions with overseas adversaries and friends alike.

How would a political neophyte like Trump credibly stand up to a smart and savvy ideological thug like Vladimir Putin?

Trump countered with his broad experience in dealing with foreign governments while consummating various real estate deals as well as his near universal name recognition and close association with high class and first-rate luxury. Kind of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” in living form, complete with a fondness for Twitter and punching back at rivals with nicknames like “Crooked Hillary,” “Lyin’ Ted” and “Low energy Jeb.”

Trump’s ability to transcend all the inexperience nonsense and attain credibility for his foreign policy strategy is probably the greatest accomplishment thus far in his presidency. Trump could be changing the way politics is viewed in our unique American system – an “outsider” with no governing experience really can succeed if he knows how to negotiate.

It’s hard to tell whether President Trump’s victories of late will translate to more respect from young voters or serve to increase his approval ratings with independents and the last remaining vestiges of #NeverTrump. Success begets success – and it seems to be coming in droves for Trump.

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