WASHINGTON — President Trump doubled down last week on his repulsive charge that immigrants from south of our border are “rapists.” It was another sign of what an appalling man he is, but also an indication of how much political trouble he faces.
Trump is a demagogue who relies on the angry energy of his supporters. But he finds himself in an untenable position: No matter how many hot buttons he pushes, he cannot arouse the passion he needs on his own side to counter the determination and engagement of those who loathe him.
The upshot is a vicious cycle that could be disastrous for the Republican Party this fall. So far, Trump has failed to stir his base, but he has become, unintentionally, one of the most effective organizers of progressive activism and commitment in the country’s history.
Revulsion at Trump is now the driving force in American politics, and this petrifies the traditional GOP. Responding to the outcome of last week’s election in Wisconsin — a candidate backed by Democrats won an open state supreme court seat for the first time since 1995 — the normally loyal Republicans at the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page took off their gloves.
“If Mr. Trump is the main issue on Election Day in November,” the paper wrote “all the evidence now points to an electoral wipeout like [President] Obama’s in 2010 — this time against Republicans.”
Trump’s latest rape comments illustrated his obsession with pushing issues that appeal to Fox News and conservative talk radio fans at the expense of building his standing with the broader electorate. His outburst came last Thursday at a West Virginia event where he was supposed to be touting the tax cut that Republicans in Congress hope to run on.