The Art of Deflection

Our Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump, has climbed the political ladder by poo-pooing those below him.  Republican leaders, sitting congressmen and senators, and even the Speaker of the House have been targeted at being awful people for calling out some of Donald Trump’s ridiculous statements.  Most recently, Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he won’t be going out of his way to campaign for Trump (he didn’t rescind his support altogether), but rather he’s focusing on maintaining the Republican majority in the House.  The Speaker is doing what he can to salvage the election.  I say salvage because the latest RealClearPolitics average has Hillary Clinton at a 5.7 point advantage over Trump…and it’s trending upward.

Before I left for vacation at the beginning of October, RCP had Trump within striking distance in the Electoral College with Clinton getting 272 EVs to Trump’s 266.  Today, it’s back to being lopsided with Clinton estimated to get 340 EVs to Trump’s 198.  Back around September, the controversy surrounding Clinton’s health was swirling, and Donald Trump was acting more like a “normal” Republican candidate that tried to hold to talking points.  Today, the old Donald is back.  Talk of rigged elections and how currently elected Republicans (who actually have the responsibility of governing) are awful at their job have returned.  The rhetoric replaces a more even-tempered Trump, and that is sad.  It’s very sad that “grassroots” conservative Republicans are more willing to blame Speaker Ryan for the current state of the election rather than candidate himself.  I don’t blame the Speaker at all.  He’s doing what he can to maintain the Republican majority as well as articulating the House Republican policy agenda.

I know a lot of my fellow Republicans aren’t exactly trusting of polling and the news media, and I believe Donald Trump is doubling-down on that sentiment.  His comments of a “rigged election” seemingly disappeared when a few national polls showed that he was close to and, in some, leading Hillary Clinton in key battleground states.  His lead has evaporated, and now the excuses come flooding back:  a rigged election, Republican leadership doesn’t like me, #TheEstablishment isn’t supporting me, solar flares, the news media, etc. It’s deflection with just about everyone else is to blame other than the candidate himself.  “It’s not my fault.” is what I hear, and I believe it’s unfair to our elected representatives, leadership, and Party that our nominee is either unable or unwilling to see that his actions and words correlate to his poll numbers.  But…we’re expected to hush up and do as our nominee tells us to do.  The Supreme Court is at stake.

I know a lot of Republicans are arguing that a conservative Supreme Court is in the balance.  I totally understand that, and I also know that elections have consequences.  I believe we’re experiencing the long-term effects of failed Republican presidential bids in 2008 and 2012.  Frankly, and I’ve said this to folks before, we lost a good opportunity to appoint conservative justices to the high court when we lost the previous two presidential elections.  This year’s election is a last-ditch effort to maintain the Court, but with Trump’s campaign, it looks like the sun is setting on a conservative Supreme Court, but everyone else will be at fault except for Trump.  Volunteers didn’t volunteer enough.  Republican leaders didn’t support Trump enough.  Speaker Ryan sabotaged Trump.  The weather suppressed turnout in key battleground states.  Machines were rigged.  Voters were intimidated.  Everything under the sun will be blamed except for the campaign.

This year has been chaotic in politics, and polls could certainly swing in Trump’s favor if he can move past the most recent controversies.  I don’t mean deflecting the issue by pointing to Bill Clinton’s past, saying it’s locker room talk, or whatever.  Own up to it, apologize (which he did), and move on to talk about the future of America.  If Trump can actually go back to sticking to talking points rather than going off the rails, then he may be able to recover.  We’re only a few weeks away from the election, and stranger things have happened, but if he wants to be the next President of the United States, then he needs to go back to being the more even-keeled September Trump.  Of course, if he doesn’t and end up with “President-elect Hillary Clinton” (eww) on November 9th, it will be “our” fault.


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