The Atlantic: Trump Goes to War

Molly Ball goes through the MAGA looking glass to report on the waning days of the newly “unshackled” Trump campaign:

For the Republicans who capitulated to Trump, the best-case scenario was a genteel defeat. Instead, they got the worst case: the party burned down from within, its own voters cheering the fire. Like so many of those who have gone into business with Trump, they trusted him to hold up his end of the bargain, only to find themselves stuck with a bill he refuses to pay.

“I resigned myself long ago to the fact that this was going to be a disaster,” Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist who has worked for the party’s Senate committee, told me a few days ago. “But there’s no real gratification in having it confirmed in the most obvious and predictable way.”

Donovan has taken to reposting on Twitter a National Review commentary from May wherein he argued that Trump could never win a general election. (“The Archie Bunker routine that succeeded among a subset of the Right is precisely what put him in his current hole,” Donovan wrote back then. “It turns out that what revs the GOP engine is repellent to everyone else.”)

“It’s been a dark six months,” Donovan said, but Trump’s increasing personal toxicity combined with his jihad against the party that nominated him could still get worse. “That’s the scary part,” he said, noting that Trump had tweeted over the weekend that he wanted the politicians pulling back from him to lose their elections.

Trump probably doesn’t know he’s going to lose, Donovan said, but “he’s laying the narrative preemptively to place the blame after this goes down”—to pin it on the traitors in the Republican establishment who fled the sinking ship like so many rats. Based on primary votes, “14 million people are at least susceptible to this argument,” he added. “Is he going to spend the next 20-some days dragging everybody down with him? So there’s a lot of looking into the abyss.”

None of Trump’s presentations are driven by polling or strategy, particularly now that he’s cast off any pretense of politeness. “His instincts are what they are. He always goes back to the same well,” Donovan said. “The message he’s putting out is doubling down on the underlying sentiment of his whole candidacy: us against the elites, redemption for people who feel ignored. People like Paul Ryan are keeping you down.” Pure resentment with no veneer. Trumpism distilled to its essence.

Full story here.

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