There is a well-known idea proposed by psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross that people pass though five stages of grief when they are given a diagnosis of a terminal illness: (1) Denial (2) Anger (3) Bargaining (4) Depression (5) Acceptance. Some have expanded this to seven stages, adding Shock/Disbelief and Guilt: (1) Shock or Disbelief (2) Denial (3) Anger (4) Bargaining (5) Guilt (6) Depression (7) Acceptance and Hope.
When it comes to the Republican presidential race an Donald Trump’s dominance, it looks like the Republican party has rapidly progressed through most of the steps.
We saw the initial shock and disbelief as he shot to the top of the polls immediately following the announcement that he would run. We then saw denial as people predicted that he was just a flash in the pan, another Herman Cain or Michelle Bachman, a short-lived infatuation of voters who would soon abandon him as they got to know him better and got tired of his shtick. We did not see much of the third stage of anger early on but we did see the party bargaining with him and getting him to agree that he would support the eventual nominee. We have no sign that the party feels any guilt for having created the conditions that have enabled Trump to thrive. There is no doubt a lot of depression that is being manifested privately as the reality sinks in that the party establishment is stuck with him for at least the foreseeable future and that he might lead the party to a landslide loss. And now an internal confidential memo has surfaced that reveals acceptance, because it suggests ways in which the party could accommodate a Trump nomination.
In a seven-page confidential memo that imagines Trump as the party’s presidential nominee, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee urges candidates to adopt many of Trump’s tactics, issues and approaches — right down to adjusting the way they dress and how they use Twitter.
In the memo on “the Trump phenomenon,” NRSC Executive Director Ward Baker said Republicans should embrace Trump’s tough talk about China and “grab onto the best elements of [his] anti-Washington populist agenda.” Above all, they should appeal to voters as genuine and beyond the influence of special interests.
“Trump has risen because voters see him as authentic, independent, direct, firm, — and believe he can’t be bought,” Baker writes. “These are the same character traits our candidates should be advancing in 2016. That’s Trump lesson #1.”
The idea that Trump’s appeal is largely due to the idea that he can’t be bought is of dubious merit. It only adds value and does not create it. If Trump’s message were not so focused on appealing to white, Christian, xenophobic, and otherwise paranoid and obnoxious elements of the party, his ‘can’t be bought’ message would count for nothing and could possibly even harm him.