Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party

Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE’s campaign has announced that it is beginning a series of outreach initiatives.

They are having a special effort committed to outreach to the African-American community.

They have announced a new attempt to enlist support from suburban women.


They have stated they will seek to draw support from rural America.

They will probably start a program of enlisting tall people and another to draw in short people.

They are on an outreach binge.

Why is this necessary and will it work?

It is necessary because the president believes in the politics of polarization.

He enjoys — relishes, in fact — picking enemies and then picking on them, especially in front of large, adoring, self-selected crowds.

The problem is the ancillary damage. The president’s energized antagonism dulls support from people who see his antics and petty peevishness as unbecoming of someone who holds the nation’s highest office.


It is more than likely that the next series of presidential primaries, starting with New Hampshire, will see one of the lowest turnouts of Republican voters in recent history.

The president and his political people will say this is because there is no serious contest — something they will claim shows the strength of the president as he seeks a course to re-election.

This is true to some extent. The uncontested nature of these Republican primaries gives voters little reason to go out and vote.

But there is something much more threatening to the Republican Party going on, which is also shown by these low turnout figures.

Whether the president or his consultant menageries accept it, the low turnout is a warning signal.

Mainstream Republican voters are disturbed.

The crude theater of this presidency does not play well with people who came of voting age following leaders like President Reagan, President George H.W. Bush or President George W. Bush, or congressional figures such as Jack Kemp and Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE.

There is a genuine concern that President Trump is contracting the Republican Party through his rashness, rather than expanding it.

You cannot use insults, crass language and superficial presentations to build or maintain a majority party in America.

The president’s propensity to call out various groups and individuals for mockery causes many to wonder who is next.  No one knows, because the attacks seem to be sparked by the president’s instincts in the moment.

But the attacks are often deep cuts at the decency of our culture as a caring nation.

It is an abusive tone that undermines the presidency, not just this specific president.

It drives away people who have for decades made up the swing votes especially in suburban districts.  These people essentially decide elections.

Trump’s base may like this boorish style, but they are not enough on their own to win future elections.

Republicans win elections in swing districts by bringing into the fold of support Republicans who are now actively denigrated by the president and his team of soothsayers.

Republicans in swing districts win elections by speaking to and for the broad swath of independents who lean right.

Elections are lost by Republicans, as was shown in the last House of Representatives election, when the arrogance of the chanting base drives out of the tent those constituencies that make a majority.

The fact that so few people will be willing to identify themselves as Republicans and take a Republican ballot during these primaries should be a flashing neon light that says “TROUBLE”.

The general election will, of course, be essentially a binary choice: the nation’s voters will have to choose either Trump or the Democratic nominee.

It is possible the Democrats will jump off a cliff and nominate a socialist — or a socialist hiding in ‘progressive’ clothes.

If this occurs, the president will be reelected.  In such a scenario, there will be no choice for moderate Republicans and right-leaning independents but to back him.


But it is risky for the president and his surrogates to assume they will get to play in such a game.

Above all, the Democrats want to win the presidency.

It would be a surprise if they did not accept the obvious, which is that such a victory is unlikely to come from the Bernie SandersBernie SandersKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security MORE wing of the party.

Democrats who want to win will nominate a candidate who will make this an extremely competitive race for the president.

It is nice that the president and his campaign have set up their many outreach efforts to all these different constituencies.

It acknowledges that someone, somewhere in the campaign understands the dangers of the narrowing of the party membership that has occurred over the last three years.

But to expect much to come of such outreach efforts is naive.


There can be no outreach unless the president decides he wants it.

It is clear he has not felt such a need.

Rather, with great flare, he continues to belligerently confront anyone he deems annoying or unsupportive — and so reduces his potential pool of support and that of the Republican Party.

It does not appear likely that he will change course.

The brave souls who surround the president fear his wrath if they encourage him to reach out in a manner that will draw back in Republicans or independents.

Rather they will set up a bunch of paper initiatives and claim they tried.

The slogan for this campaign should be: Honey, I shrunk the Party.

Although it might make a good movie, it will not make it easy to win in November.

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.