Lots of people have claimed that Donald Trump changed American politics, but has he done the near-impossible and transformed the Republican party from a perennial underachiever that never stood for anything, ran content-free campaigns playing not to lose
and was content to allow the Democrats to ruin the country into a winner that makes bold promises and moves mountains to keep them?
From the outset of Trump’s initial campaign in 2015/2016, the lifelong real estate developer/tabloid celebrity/reality TV star never was content to settle for the way things had always been done in the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan made conservatism “cool” in the 1970’s and 80’s, but since that time, Republicans couldn’t definitively decide on whether they stood for limited government conservatism and a fierce defense of personal liberties or were merely just better managers of the bloated welfare state and societal decline.
In the process, over the course of about a quarter century, Republican presidential candidates robotically ceded certain states to the Democrats in national elections, largely because they figured they couldn’t win in places with large union populations, heavy concentrations of minority voters – or because they didn’t possess the persuasive skills to change minds.
Need a visual? Picture John McCain and Mitt Romney.
The ever-confident Trump wouldn’t settle for this capitulating outlook, however, and pledged to vigorously compete, even in states the GOP hadn’t won in decades. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he’s doing so again this year, vowing to take the fight to Democrats practically everywhere.
In an article titled “Trump Plans Aggressive Expansion of Electoral Map, Says He’ll Make ‘Heavy Play’ for New York, New Jersey, Virginia, New Mexico, Minnesota”, Matthew Boyle and Alexander Marlow reported at Breitbart recently:
“Former President Donald Trump [said that] assuming he wins the GOP nomination for president again he will work to expand the universe of battleground states and aggressively compete against whoever Democrats nominate in states like New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Minnesota, and New Mexico.
“Trump said he thinks he can compete in a number of states that Republicans have not won in many years in presidential elections. He said he plans to do rallies in these states, and work to try to win them—but maybe not as hard as the traditional battleground states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. Trump even threw out a possible idea of renting out the iconic Madison Square Garden to hold a rally in the heart of Manhattan in New York City...
“Asked what he means by make a ‘heavy play’ for states like New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Virginia, and New Mexico, Trump said he plans to do rallies and speeches in those states as he campaigns for the presidency in the general election. ‘I’m going to do rallies, I’m going to do speeches, I’m going to work them,’ Trump said. ‘That doesn’t mean I’m going to work them as hard as I work Pennsylvania, where I’m doing very well.’”
For Trump fans – and enemies who’ve studied him – this is vintage Trump. As the Breitbart authors pointed out in their piece, Trump made similar predictions/assurances in 2016 and managed to pull off victories in states that hadn’t gone GOP in over a generation. I still remember the shock/exhilaration on Election Night that year when the infamous “blue wall” was not only breached, it was shattered to bits in Pennsylvania and the upper midwestern states of Michigan and Wisconsin.
After months of the establishment media and Republican party bluebloods forecasting doom for Trump and sure victory for Crooked Hillary Clinton, the people responded in a completely new direction. Trump wasn’t Mitt Romney or John McCain or Jeb Bush or any other status quo Republican who basically promised more of the same vis-à-vis the Democrats, positions that roused the party base enough to turnout but not excite them sufficiently to win.
One or two points might as well be twenty in such locales for all it matters in the Electoral College. It took Trump to dream the heretofore impossible political dream – and then pull it off. He can hardly be blamed for wanting to go big in 2024 as well. If ever there was an election where Americans are open to the prospect of good government (even if they don’t personally like Trump), it should be in 2024.
Is it feasible, though? Hearing Trump talk about contesting in states that are so solid blue they might as well be part of the ocean surrounding the Hawaiian islands, it reminds me of the famous scene in every college football fan’s favorite movie, Rudy, where the title character (played by Sean Astin) stands on a lone stool in the center of the Notre Dame locker room and recites a speech he’d memorized from one of his vinyl recordings as a kid:
“Were gonna go inside, were gonna go outside, inside and outside. Were gonna get 'em on the run boys and once we get 'em on the run were gonna keep 'em on the run. And then were gonna go go go go go go and were not gonna stop til we get across that goalline. This is a team they say is....... is good, well I think were better than them. They cant lick us, so what do you say men?”
Yup. According to Trump, conservatives are going in every direction and won’t stop until we get across the 2024 goal line, that being the 270 Electoral Votes necessary to win the presidency back from broken-down corrupt-o-crat senile Joe Biden. Trump is inspiring enough to make the speech work, too.
And, of course, there’s Democrat Howard Dean’s famous rant from the 2004 party nominating race (where he finished third in Iowa), which still earns replays because of its sheer… psychosis? Dean ended his diatribe with “And then we’re going to Washington DC to take back the White House! Yyeeeaahhh!”
At that moment (it should’ve come long before, actually), Americans realized that Dean was a nut – and a delusional one at that. But now Trump isn’t yelling like a senile old dementia patient – or the current president of the United States – blabbering about “democracy” and basing his reelection case on obscure concepts that sound nice but don’t mean anything.
In the face of these factors, why not shoot for the stars? Military history buffs understand that the most successful commanders stood out simply because they weren’t like everyone who’d commanded before, but took honest, realistic assessments of their troops, supply lines, political leadership and logistics – and then formulated plans of their own based on what they hoped to achieve rather than settling for “the way it’s always been done.”
George Washington, for example, famously took measure of his situation and fighting forces before he even deployed them in the field. Washington grasped that his enemy was superior in virtually every way – including numbers – but could be defeated simply by existing. It’s said that Washington was the only general who ever won a war by losing every battle (does this include Yorktown, which was a victory?), but earned the respect of his army and persisted to the end with faith in his cause.
Similarly, General Ulysses S. Grant took command of all the Union armies fairly late in the Civil War – but stationed himself with the North’s army of the Potomac so as to oversee the most important field operations. Each of his predecessors, more or less, had failed because they’d set the capture of Richmond (Confederate capital) as the sole objective, something that was perhaps unachievable with “regular” frontal military campaigns.
Grant devised a different tactic, settling on a war of attrition with Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia as the objective. Wherever Lee went, the Army of the Potomac would go too. Grant knew Lee couldn’t replace his losses, where the Union (thanks in part to the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of black troops) could simply smother the South to death.
As a result, the war was over within a year.
Is Trump’s “expand the map” strategy more like the philosophies of Washington, Grant or Robert E. Lee? Lee attained legendary status as a military tactician by “understanding” the leaders who opposed them, then attacked their weaknesses by using his own army’s advantages. Lee also took gambles based on a thorough belief and trust in his own troops. Would Trump stake his presidency on the Republican and conservative grassroots turning out in force? He already has sized up the weaknesses of his enemy, that’s for sure.
Trump is correct that things have gotten so bad in some of these reliable leftist strongholds that people there may be fed up with the Democrats’ intentional destruction and therefore, consider an alternative. Survey after recent survey has indicated that some traditional Democrat voter blocs – Young voters, Hispanics, African-Americans, etc. – are disillusioned with Joe Biden and plan to either vote for Trump or go third party.
The reason why any of this could be possible? Illegal immigration. Residents of deep blue enclaves are heartily sick of “invaders” coming in and consuming all of their government services while taxing their systems to the maximum. I don’t know the political situations in each congressional district in the border states, but what population would even think about returning the current governing class to power?
Trump not only represents a hypothetical alternative, he’s proven that, if provided the chance, he’ll achieve actual results. Trump’s campaign is more than just an ambitious politician promising the moon to win crossover votes. It’s bad out there – and the time is now to try something new. If his resources will allow it, Trump’s MAGA campaign would be smart to march into “blue” territory. Bring it on.
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