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How to actually fight and win
Donald Trump's outbursts of rage and bizarre social media rants reflect badly on his character and qualifications to be President.
Back in May of 2020, when the nation was still dealing with an emerging virus that had had killed nearly 100,000 people, the President of these United States decided the best use of his time was to get on Twitter and spread a bizarre and debunked conspiracy theory about how a Congressman had murdered a 28 year old woman in his office 19 years earlier. At a time when we needed sober leadership, Donald Trump tormented the woman's widow nearly two decades after her death, while the Cult of Trump celebrated the pain of a man who had never done anything to the cult leader.
This is arguably the most depraved example of the "at least he fights" mantra, but far from the only one. And it provides an example of how not to actually fight and win in the political arena. Trump did not gain a single vote with his lies about this woman's death. Trump's lies did not convince anyone about why the Republican Party's platform was the right path for the country, did not get a single Republican elected, and did not advance any public policy that would help the American people. He may have excited his most devoted cult followers, but he did no damage to his political enemies. He only generated sympathy for them and for the innocent victims caught in the crossfire of his irrational rage.
This is not how to win. This is how you turn people off. There are many ways to attack Democrats, by pointing out bad policy. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Trump could have highlighted the hypocrisy of Democrats who refused to live by the rules they imposed on everyone else. Trump could have pointed out falsehoods and bias in the news media and Big Tech, especially regarding COVID-19. Trump could have pointed to documented character flaws or counterproductive policies like "defund the police."
But Trump has never been able to discipline himself and hone his message in a way that is effective. He has never been able to restrain his urges to say what he is thinking, and therefore he is a city that is broken down and without walls. (See Proverbs 25:28.) Trump has to go for the most depraved, most hateful and often completely false personal demonization of those who have "wronged" him. Trump is and has always been a tantrum-throwing spoiled child. Trump is a weak, effeminate, thin-skinned and brittle man who cannot handle even the mildest criticism.
Yes, Trump's depraved Twitter posts viciously tormenting a dead woman's widow two years ago are relevant and will remain relevant, because it is a reflection on his character, maturity, professionalism and ability to lead and inspire people. Serious times deserve serious people, and Trump has proven over and over again that he is not a serious person.
It is true that Republicans have spent decades refusing to "fight back," and that failure is what led a plurality of the Republican base to pick Trump in 2016. But the way to fight is not to make up depraved lies about a former Congressman and torment the widow of a woman who died tragically. The way to fight is not to mock opponents' looks or call them names like "bimbo" for asking a reasonable question, as Trump did to Megyn Kelly.
No, the way to "fight back" is to criticize Democrats on concrete things that actually matter and are relevant. Bad policy, loss of liberty, higher taxes, attacks on parental authority, radical social policy, job-killing regulations, weakness on crime, and official corruption are all ripe targets that will resonate with voters. There are more targets than that. It also means responding aggressively to unfair or misleading attacks against Republicans.
You don't have no be nasty, hateful and vindictive to "fight back." You have to outline why your policy agenda is good and your opponents' policy agenda is bad, while also showing why your candidate is more qualified than the other candidate. While personal attacks have always been part of politics, it has become normalized since 2016. That needs to be reversed.
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