Yesterday evening I went to a Trump volunteer event in Metairie that drew 100 people.
The gathering was impressive as it was largest campaign organizational event I have ever attended.
Though the chairman of the state GOP was on hand, as was Trump’s campaign coordinator for Louisiana, the meeting had been put together by grassroots activists chomping at the bit to do something, whether it be wave yard signs in the reliably red state of Louisiana or deploy for a few weekends in the more competitive and electoral vote rich state of Florida.
There is no questioning that Trump’s White House bid has generated more excitement and enthusiasm than any other Republican presidential candidate since Reagan.
And while the Left and the self-loathing Jeb wing of the Republican Party will dismiss such passion as the result of Trump appealing to people’s darker instincts, I see something far more noble.
The folks who signed the clipboards and snagged bumper stickers spent part of their Tuesday evening trying to find out how they can make a difference. As many are retired or semi-retired they are not afraid for themselves but for their grandchildren.
In contrast to today’s selfie-righteous society, they represent a selfless society that has been steadily eroding.
They are the people who work the church fish fries, personally manicure their lawns, and dutifully vote in the tax and proposition elections that the younger people are too busy or disinterested to bother with.
They are the Greatest Generation’s younger siblings and their children, the aging Baby Boomers.
The men who slogged through the less glorious campaigns in Korea and Vietnam and the women who held the home and family together.
They still remember what the America they grew up was like and wince seeing what it has transmogrified into today.
They remember, if not directly participated in, the craziness of the late sixties and early seventies and after groping their way out of the acrid fog of that counter-culture, voted to right the ship in the 1980s.
And they see 2016 as perhaps another moment to stop the political and societal insanity that has reemerged thanks to our community organizer president and the rigged media.
They are the bedrock of Donald Trump’s electoral base, the people who carried him through 16 opponents in the primaries and caucuses and the onslaught of negative press that Trump brought upon himself.
And after the brutal week he inflicted on his own candidacy, Trump is on the verge of letting them down.
Trump the Candidate has behaved as of late like a car in demolition derby targeting vehicles that are not actually in the race.
For example, Trump blew a day creating a media narrative where he was contemplating funding a super PAC to go after one-time rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
And regardless of his resentment over their refusal to support him, they’re not priorities at the moment.
Sure Trump might have run Jeb Bush off the candidate stage but it will be the former Florida governor doing a low energy moonwalk over the billionaire’s political grave in November if he doesn’t get over himself.
Though his name might be in bold print on signs and t-shirts, this election is not about him.
Has Trump given anyone a reason to back his candidacy this week or for that matter, a reason to vote against Hillary?
Maybe? You’d be hard pressed to find one while sifting through his grievances about fire marshals in various states who have allegedly curtailed the number of people who can attend rallies due to room capacity restraints.
Somehow I don’t see a message that “A Vote for Trump is a Vote Against the Fire Marshall of Columbus, OH” moving many people in Pennsylvania.
Assuming he has not just settled on collecting a paycheck and being featured on Showtime’s The Circus, Paul Manafort ought to inform Trump that there’s a difference between being politically incorrect and being politically stupid.
While the polls have flipped for the worse on him after a rare week of pluralities (albeit very low pluralities), some people have taken heart that there’s almost three months left in the campaign.
There is plenty of time on the clock (I argue only two months because of the proliferation of early voting), though what makes me so cynical is that Trump has yet to shift gears as a candidate.
He’s no more self-disciplined now then he was back when he tried to link Ted Cruz’s dad with the Kennedy assassination.
Trump needs to do a personal reboot soon that includes sticking with a script, ignoring criticism from non-candidates hoping to get a rise out of him, and asking himself whether the next thing he tweets will add to his support or subtract from it.
Failing that, he should consider wearing oven mitts between speaking engagements in order to make his social media less of an albatross.
Considering what they’ve done to get him this far, Trump’s supporters deserve a presidential campaign far better than the one he has so far conducted.