The Trouble with a Trump Endorsement

What the Democrats in Western Pennsylvania might have learned with Conor Lamb’s performance in the special election in his state’s 18th Congressional District is that moderation can trump Trump’s bullshit. But will the Dems be able to resist the gravitational pull to the left?

What the Republicans just might realize is that Donald Trump’s currency ain’t what it used to be. In short, having Trump stump for you could be a grand liability. What the Donald fails to understand is that he sells only himself and his schtick. He doesn’t focus on why people should vote for someone else. The other lesson is the evergreen observation that all elections are local. But can the RNC resist the forces trying to reposition them to the far right? The N.R.A. is just one of them.

The voters in Alabama decided to elect someone they thought was the better candidate for the Senate. In fact, the Democrat Doug Jones was endorsed by the sitting Republican Senator. Trump first pushed Luther Strange, who lost, then doubled-down against Roy Moore’s accusers and that endorsement proved toxic. Isn’t Trump supposed to be a winner?

The Donald’s long self-aggrandizement rally speech in Moon Township, PA last Saturday night might have made him happy, but it did little for the Republican candidate, Rick Saccone. In fact, Trump would have been wise not to go to the 18th District in Pennsylvania. Western Pennsylvania may still support Donald Trump as President, but they are not sure they can trust his judgement about people running for office.

I was struck by a comment from a retired pharmacist in Pittsburgh who said she voted for Trump but would vote for Lamb. She said clearly that the chaos in the White House made her nervous. She said, “Why, he fired someone today, right?” And this is something that Donald Trump, a “stable genius,” can’t figure out.

On the day people in Pa were going to the polls, all the headlines were about Trump firing Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State. When we learned that the President did the firing on Twitter, it made him seem unstable and sent a message of unsteadiness and uncertainty through the electorate. He screwed the party by throwing a flare of doubt on election day. A smart politician would have waited to shake the trees around him until after the election, but this president is not smart. The apple fell from the tree and hit him on his big orange head.

Another stupid move was sending Don Jr. into a chocolate factory to “help” Rick Saccone. Don Jr. is notorious for opening his mouth and putting both feet in there, and the optics of Don Jr. in a hair net didn’t really work for the hard-core industrial and agricultural Pennsylvanians.

Back to the maxim that all elections are local, Conor Lamb was a great candidate and will have to prove it again in November. Remember, this was a special election to fill the seat of a shamed Republican forced to resign. The congressional district that was used last night will be redrawn for future elections, and there is a good chance Lamb won’t even face off against Saccone again. They could be in different districts in the Fall.

As someone who grew up in that area, the gerrymandered district that was used for this election makes no sense at all. You have people in the South Hills’ suburbs that share more with people north of the line, than with those in downstate Greene County. The original purpose of this district shape was to control the number of Democrats and their effect on elections. Not very American.

Donald Trump benefited from the gerrymandering and by Russian dirty tricks during the campaign. These have soiled our electoral process. Donald Trump may think he still has his small little hands around the necks of those districts where he won, but things are changing.

No one got rich, except the people who are already rich. No one got the big raise, which Trump promised would come. The coal mining companies aren’t hiring thousands of workers, as the candidate promised. Plants like Carrier and Harley-Davidson still moved some production out of the country. People continue to be laid off and there aren’t enough lies that can alter reality.

Lies and bravado are not as convincing as plain talk from a calm and moderate voice. We can learn a lot from Conor Lamb and the way he ran his campaign. He didn’t waste his time trying to take a wrecking ball to Donald Trump. He simply admitted how popular he is. He didn’t need to pledge loyalty to Nancy Pelosi, who apparently is damaged goods in American politics. Why does a political party keep electing a Speaker of the House who isn’t don’t liked by both parties?

Trump will try to fire his way out of the mess he has created. Like an animal who finds himself in quicksand, if the Donald just stood still he might have a chance. But he will keep changing and moving, thinking that he, and he alone, can make himself popular — all the while sinking lower and lower as the Democratic lambs watch.

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