The three failures of Trump's speech

The second failure: There’s still no plan to build a majority coalition to support a Trump program.

Donald Trump’s fierce need for approval has disabled him from acknowledging the strategic fact of majority disapproval. Fifty-six percent disapproval is not an insurmountable obstacle. But how can a leader surmount a difficulty that he insists does not exist?

In 2001, President Bush—elected with a narrow popular vote deficit—reckoned with the enduring popularity of the Clinton economic program by promising that his tax cut would leave the essentials of that program intact. In 1993, Bill Clinton—who had won only a 43 percent plurality of the national popular vote—responded by adopting Ross Perot’s concerns with debts and deficits as his own.

Donald Trump’s political plan, by contrast, continues to be premised on the idea that he commands a big latent pool of public support, awaiting only activation and mobilization by him. Unlike Bush’s No Child Left Behind program or Bill Clinton and his support for NAFTA and the death penalty, Trump’s offer to those who did not vote for him continues to be—like Michael Corleone in The Godfather—“Nothing.”

Michael Corleone had the clout to compel acceptance of that offer. Does Trump?

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