If Nikki Haley is serious about trying to stop Trump […], there is only one way to cut into his mammoth majority, and that is by raising doubts about Trump’s electability. The way to do that is to warn those Republicans still capable of listening that a Trump presidency really does pose a risk to our freedom and democracy and the Constitution. That is what will be required to win over the small percentage of Republicans who are still willing to drop Trump if he is convicted. And if Haley can begin to reel in those voters, she can begin to raise doubts in the minds of those who are supporting Trump because they think he can defeat Biden and the Democrats in November. In short, the way to beat Trump is to make him seem unelectable, and the way to make him seem unelectable is to show that he is unacceptable.
Trump’s dictatorial tendencies and open disdain for the Constitution can become his greatest vulnerabilities — they might be his only vulnerabilities — if sufficiently highlighted for the American voter, and he and his advisers likely know it. Trump’s bizarre assertion that he would be a dictator only on “Day One” of his presidency to “close the border” was, believe it or not, an attempt to deflect the charge. (But what if it takes two days?) Democrats have gotten mileage in downballot races by painting their Republican opponents as lawbreaking, MAGA radicals. Trump is aware that he needs to hold on to some normal, non-cultist Republicans — that is why he has taken a more moderate position on abortion than much of the rest of the party. Trump is nothing if not a shrewd politician (the people who persist in claiming he’s an idiot should have a talk with themselves), and he knows he cannot win the general election on cult votes alone.
So, are Haley and other Republicans trying to exploit these vulnerabilities? No. Quite the contrary, they are helping Trump by continually affirming his acceptability as president. Every time Haley and other Republicans say they will support Trump if he is the nominee, they are telling Republican voters, including their own supporters, that Trump is acceptable. When New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu says, “I just want Republicans to win; that’s all I care about,” he might as well just get it over with — and endorse Trump. To say that Biden is so dangerous to the country that even Trump would be better is to endorse the world as Trump and his MAGA cultists portray it. Not only does this undercut the rationale for Haley’s candidacy, but it also makes it extremely difficult to peel away current Trump supporters. If Trump is acceptable, then he is electable. And if he is electable, then why should any current Trump supporter shift to Haley? Haley’s posture is not only incoherent; it is fatal to her prospects. [Continue reading…]