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While in one breath decrying the divisiveness that has infected our politics and criticizing our President’s role in breeding that anger, we have this from over the weekend on CNN’s evening show with Don Lemon,
The arrogance, the dismissiveness, the smug cackling, the accents.
If Donald Trump wins re-election this year, I’ll remember this brief CNN segment late one Saturday night in January as the perfect encapsulation for why it happened. pic.twitter.com/8kQ6zN9AZV
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) January 28, 2020
Mainstream but exceedingly balanced journalist Yashar Ali rightly pointed out,
I've said this before and I'll say it again, sometimes the biggest Trump critics, especially those in the media, can unintentionally take on some of the aspects of his persona that they often started out criticizing.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 28, 2020
The clip is instructive for those who wonder how President Trump won. This isn’t just a “this is how you got Trump” moment (though it is that, too). It’s also a spotlight on how we’ve come to learn many GOP elites felt about their voter and donor base for their entire careers, but largely kept in check publicly.
While there has been a great deal of ink spilled about how President Trump won the general election, there is even more that should be focused on how President Trump won the GOP nomination before that. They are two different victories, though closely linked. The above clip is, I think, more instructive about that first victory than the second. Republican voters knew for a long time how highly-paid consultants actually felt, and by voting for Donald J. Trump, they were able to signal their refusal to play along any longer.
This was something I didn’t understand at the time, but have come to appreciate in the years following the President’s election. I once felt like Rick Wilson, the GOP strategist on the right of the screen; not in his disdain for his fellow Americans, but about what President Trump’s victory said about those who voted for him. Then when I was proved so, so very wrong, I did a crazy thing: I stopped talking and started listening. I understand a lot more about why Trump voters did what they did in 2016.
That is something everyone, Republican or Democrat, should have done in the wake of the election. If Rick Wilson, one of the members of the new “GOP” SuperPAC opposed to the President, the Lincoln Project, wanted to do something new and different, if he wanted to win, he would have done the same. But he would rather sneer at voters than win them over. Fine. At least he’s not doing it with Republicans’ money anymore.