The good news for Donald Trump, throughout this contentious and capricious GOP presidential primary, has been that he was the candidate with the highest floor of support in an abnormally crowded field.
This provided Trump with a solid base despite the fluidity of the campaign, seemingly regardless of what he said or did. Or, as Trump himself once put it, even if he murdered someone in public in New York City this group of voters (aka “Trump Cult”) would remain loyal to him.
However, beginning with the likely outcome in Wisconsin come Tuesday, we are now entering the phase of the campaign where this could become the bad news for Trump. For though he has the highest floor propping him up, it appears it has come at the high cost of owning the lowest ceiling among the remaining candidates.
So what’s happened?
What’s happened is the brand Trump used to build his base makes him now unable to expand it. That brand of outrageous, contemptible putdown-style of personality-driven politics certainly touched a nerve with a portion of a justifiably angry electorate. However, with the field narrowed to a two-man race (plus the vanity of John Kasich), the percentage of those who just want to watch the world burn is now dwarfed by those who realize you can’t replace something with nothing. And we still have to actually govern the country when we’re done venting.
Had Trump chosen to go the adult route even weeks ago and taken the issues seriously, the race for the GOP nomination would already be his given the force of nature he’s been. But he didn’t, and he only has himself to blame for the increasing likelihood that his candidacy is going to slowly bleed out until it’s finished off for good in Cleveland come July.
Trump’s campaign slogan may be “make America great again” but his campaign is really conducted as if it’s saying “don’t you wish you were me?” This has attracted a base of people who rightfully believe themselves to be disenfranchised by a corrupt system (which Trump helped to empower), as well as political opportunists anxious to get their seat on Trump train before the music stops.
A corrupt government produces enough of the downtrodden and jock sniffers alike to jump-start a megalomaniac’s quest for ultimate self-actualization. But the rest of the primary electorate, primarily motivated by self-empowerment and principle instead, is repulsed by such things. And Trump’s political sins have found him out, leaving The Donald to double down on the aggrieved carnival barker act that has become his calling card, to keep preaching to the choir, all while operating a campaign with limited upward mobility.
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