Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The letter to Republicans that I hope they don't read

The letter is from Rick Wilson, the Republican strategist, writing at

But before we go there, here is a video (via RealClearPolitics) that is a must view -- in case you missed it. Lawrence O'Donnell, host of MSNBC's The Last Word interviews Wilson and Charlie Sykes (both Republicans) with additional footage of Trump's remarks about Judge Curiel and Hillary Clinton's scathing rebuttal.

Link to RealClearPolitics' video clip.

With that as the background, here are snippets from Wilson's letter.

Imagine it’s the Fall of this year and you’re a U.S. House or Senate candidate in a swing district or state. Your Democratic opponent is running a low-risk campaign, having pivoted to the slightly-center-left with aplomb. Regardless of their actual beliefs, they’ve got their masks bolted on tight, staying relentlessly on message as technocratic middle-of-the-lane moderates. Barack Obama’s approval numbers keep creeping higher and higher as a kind of “at least he’s not crazy or obviously corrupt” vibe sets in with the public. It makes your “Obamacare, Benghazi, tranny bathrooms” message cluster feel less promising than it did last year when you were planning this run, doesn’t it?

Your pollsters and strategists are hunting for a message and a tone where you can capture the anger and unrest of the Trump voters without becoming Trump-like, because no matter who you are, you’re not Donald Trump. You don’t have the built-in pad of celebrity and reality-television brand image. You don’t have the weird media dynamic where the spectacle of Trump’s shitshow du jour seems to erase yesterday’s insanity with a new hot mess. To your credit, you’re also not utterly insane and suffering from political Tourette’s syndrome. I hate to tell you this, but it’s not working.

When you endorsed him, you bought all the problems Trump has with the voters and none of the assets. That’s why you’re awake at night, staring at the ceiling wondering what the madman will tweet next. You’ve had a tough summer, with endless questions from the press in your not-too-conservative state. Every time he opens his mouth, you’re flooded with questions. You wake up every day trying to stay on your message, but each morning your guts get watery when the Google alert with “your name + Donald Trump” pops on your iPhone. It’s why you can’t go on your Twitter or Facebook or do town hall meetings; because the whole election is about Trump, not you.

You own his politics. You own his policies, even the ones that only last as long as the next contradiction. You own the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign. You own every crazy, vile chunk of word vomit that spews from his mouth. You own his racist bleatings about Mexicans and “his” African Americans. You own his digital Hitler Youth alt-reich fanboys with their white-power fantasies and roaring anti-Semitism.

He's not going to change. He’s not going to stop being a shallow blowhard and non-stop-Malaprop. There is no better Trump. He’s not going to become more Presidential or more mindful. Trump doesn’t give a damn about your election. You’re not part of a unified Republican ticket; you’re collateral damage in Trump Rampage Raw WWE 2016. Every day, Donald Trump hands the Democrats another sword with which to cut off your political heads. Every day, Trump adds to their catalog of opposition research and endlessly catchy video bits. He’s all yours, and there are few paths to escape the blast radius.

Wilson goes on to give the Repugs some advice, but I think/hope it comes too late and that, having bent over for Trump, they cannot possibly retreat into the traditional political scene they left. To paraphrase Wilson, every day that goes by, the stink that emanates from Trump grows more and more foul and more and more attached to those who support this horrible excuse for a human being. The stench is particularly noticeable around those who originally were so critical of Trump but who now have done a 180 and support Trump even while pretending his awful rants are not so bad. That switch, readers, is politics at its worst.

Rick Wilson is a national Republican political strategist and media consultant based in Florida who has produced television for governors, U.S. Senate candidates, super PACS, and corporations. He’s on Twitter at @therickwilson. (Bio from the Daily Beast)

Charlie Sykes is the host of the Milwaukee radio show Midday with Charlie Sykes and writes the political blog

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