As a former political consultant, when the primary season is in full swing I always feel like an old veteran player who used to be a starter. But my heyday was when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. However, even a fossilized gunslinger like me can see the writing on the wall going into November. It is full of opportunities and minefields for both parties.
For the Dems, the spate of primary victories for moderates is a good omen. Resistance types are not their path to taking back the House. But as someone who generally played for the GOP, I have a better insight into their chances in the fall. My intuition says three factors could work for them in the film portrayal of Patton at El Guettar and in a “Hold them by the nose and kick them in the a**” manner.
Hold them by the nose with the good economy. That message beats other ideological drivel as people of all political persuasions can see it day to day in their own lives. Hence why celeb dimwits such as Bill Maher literally want the economy to crash to hurt Trump. Of course, his wish is pronounced from behind the walls of a California mansion.
But their posterior-whipping? Two things. One, immigration. Two, an end run that has rarely if ever been used but may have a chance of grabbing an extra 5 percent that could prove decisive in at least several races. Those House races could prove the margin of losing or keeping the House for the GOP.
Now I know to some Republicans being called a “racist” by a Democrat on the immigration issue is an indictment that makes them cower in a dark corner. Well, as a seasoned (read: old) GOP ops type whose parents were born in Colombia and who grew up in South Florida, I tell you compadres your fears are much exaggerated.
For starters, “racist” has been the Dem go-to cry for thirty years. It’s old and worn. It’s Joe McCarthy’s “commie under every bed” stuff. Also, Latins aren’t monolithic on immigration or any other issue. They come from different countries with different histories and different cultures that are the basis for different voting patterns as Americans. A common language of heritage does not completely define them.
Or, as I used to say to clients who didn’t understand this, “Bob Marley spoke English. Queen Elizabeth has always spoken English. They did not hang out together.”
So, much as the president has done, they need to double down on immigration, stressing border security while leaving open the chance of a firm but fair deal, after the border is secured, for those already in this country illegally. As Bart Mancuso explained the actions of Marko Ramius when he turned the Red October into the path of the torpedo in The Hunt for Red October, “Combat tactics, Mr. Ryan.” By doing the opposite of the conventional move, he hit the torpedo with his sub before it could arm itself and rendered it a dud.
Latins will give points for courage of conviction, not to mention many of those of Latin ancestry who do not like being lumped in with illegals, and moderate Latins who may generally vote Dem will give the GOP a second look. Amongst GOP voters it will also show courage and redouble turnout enthusiasm for November.
Now about that end run? African-American males and conservative social issues.
The president has made some very limited headway with black voters, probably because of rising employment rates. This has been more of a feature with males rather than females in this demographic group.
True, the president is not a hardline social conservative in the classic sense. But he certainly is enough of one, and many of his congressional allies are that hardcore, to have credibility when speaking on certain issues. The Republicans can use this by reaching out to black males, and the African-American community in general, who are more socially conservative than the ultra-liberal white Democrats whom they traditionally vote with.
Faith also plays a large role in African-American society and that tends to steer them right of center on social issues, especially abortion and traditional marriage.
So, to hit Dems where they least expect it and make them deploy resources they already had planned for other ventures, plan and execute a tactically focused media and voter outreach effort targeting black males and concentrating on abortion, immigration, and religious discrimination against Christians. Use it only in key districts where a swing of 5 percent of the black vote could be decisive. But, using the Beau Geste dead legionnaire in the parapet ploy, give it a big opening and make noises about it in every district applicable. The late Jack Kemp, NY GOP Congressman and 1988 presidential candidate, had some success with this approach.
Even Jesse Jackson, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, started out as a social conservative before he publicly switched sides and privately sent his kids to St. Albans. He made a lot of headway with this, intrinsically understanding from his own religious background that African-Americans are more conservative on these issues than other Dems. Even more so in the 1970s before he flew a different flag.
If the Republicans can pull this off, or even just be seen to be possibly pulling it off, it can rewrite the narrative of some key congressional races and affect political logistics nationally. Then perhaps the GOP can say to the good Reverend, as did Patton to Rommel in the aforementioned film, “Jackson, you magnificent bas****, I read your book!”