Note to the media:
We have grasped by this point that when Trump does something incredibly offensive and generally racist, he is trying to appeal to his base. In fact, we've grasped that when Trump does pretty much anything, he is trying to appear to his base. We have long gotten the point that Trump absolutely, deeply needs positive reinforcement and praise, and so he will try to appeal to those acolytes who will praise him whatever he does. So, it's not really the insightful analysis the media thinks it is when they to explain portentously that Trump is trying to appeal to his base.
It's also worth noting that just because Trump has this strategy to appeal to his base, that does not inherently mean that it is good strategy. Napoleon had a strategy for Waterloo, and it didn't work out well for him. And Napoleon was actually a great general who planned things. Trump had a strategy before the mid-term elections to appeal to his base by raising racist concerns that caravans of brown-skinned immigrants were going to cross the Mexican border into the United States -- and it was a disastrous strategy, which helped Democrats flip the House and have a massive Blue Wave. So, sometimes it's a good idea to explain the downside of a strategy.
And that's another thing to keep in mind when hearing that Trump has done something to appeal to his base. His base -- the acolytes who will believe him not matter what -- is only about 20-25%, which we have consistently seen from polls. To be clear, there's another 15-20% of Republicans who still support Trump. But they aren't "No matter what" supporters, who will stand by Trump even if (as he's said) he shot someone on 5th Avenue. If you are only trying to appeal to your base that's just 20-25%, you are not going to win an election. You have to accept that you have this base (which is why it's your base), and then expand upon it to bring others in. But Trump has spent his entire time in office ONLY trying to appeal to his base -- which is why so many Republicans have left the party, and why he has been the first president ever since the beginning of polling to never get a 50% approval. And this is all the more problematic when he's starting from the point of having lost the popular vote in 2016 by three million people, and only squeaked through in winning the Electoral College by just 70,000 votes in three states. And problematic from the Republican Party having been crushed in the mid-terms. "Just appealing to his base" is profoundly limiting.
But Trump's racist statements appealing to his base have an additional, longer term problem for him, one I didn't hear discussed.
When the general election comes around, and there are presidential debates, I expect that either a moderator will bring up the divisiveness of these tweets, telling four women elected to Congress who are all American citizens (of course) and three of whom were born in the United States to go back to where they're from. And if a moderator doesn't bring it up, I expect the Democratic candidate to bring it up. And we know that Trump doesn't apologize, and will double-down -- or at this point, triple-down. And it will be very ugly, seeing him try to defend his foundational racist statement that four Congresswomen hated America, were communist, hated Israel and should go back to where they're from. And after he finishes his cringing, racist rant, it won't be like tweeting or making a comment to the press, but there will be a Democratic candidate for President standing next to him, ready to shred him for the gut-wrenching racism.
For that matter, every Democratic candidate for the House and Senate (and even for governorships) should ask their opponents in debates whether they, as Republicans, supported their party leader's racist comments about minority women who were elected officials. There are only three ways to answer -- criticize Trump, defend racism or try desperately to tap dance their way out of answering.and diverting the subject. And the Democratic candidate will likely be prepared to say, "I can't help but notice that my Republican opponent did not condemn the blatantly racist statement as racist. And that's what you get from today's Republican Party. Cowardice to defend decency while enabling racism and hatred. And it's what got us separating children from their migrant parents and putting them all in inhumane cages. America is much better than this."
There's also another side issue on this. There is a political axiom that if your opponent is shooting himself, let him continue. Last week, Democrats were having a bit of disunity, some infighting, most notably between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several of the more liberal members of the House, including several of these women. And Trump changed all that. He not only altered the headlines and made it about himself and his racist tweets, but he got Nancy Pelosi defending the Congresswomen and helped unite the party. It was truly awful politics on Trump's part.
So, yes, Trump was trying to appeal to his base. We get it. This is not "good strategy." This is the shovel with which he continues to dig a hole for himself and his complicit party deeper and deeper. And doubling down on a racist lie doesn't make it suddenly true -- it makes it a doubly racist lie. In Germany during the 1930s, they caused this the Big Lie, that if you repeat a lie often enough, some people will believe it as true.
As we have seen, some people do believe the Trump lies and think they are true. These people are known as his base. And trying to appeal to them will drive many Republicans away and horrify much of the rest of the public.