A Word About Republican Primary Challengers

no thanks

This weekend, a second Republican announced that he was running to primary Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. I thought I should tell you all how I plan to cover these challengers at Political⚡Charge.

I won’t be.

Nope, I won’t be giving them a smidge of attention. Now, at times, this won’t be easy. One of the challengers is very prolific on Twitter and jabs at Trump all the time. I know because I see his tweets show up in my feed because folks I follow retweet him. I get it–we loathe Trump and it feels good to see other folks, especially Republicans, express their disapproval for him.

But here’s where I think we need to be careful. Why should we give those candidates oxygen by retweeting or liking or commenting on their social media posts? It only broadcasts them further and gets their message out to more people ON OUR SIDE. That is time and energy and attention that could be better spent drumming up support for our fantastic candidates.

I can easily see folks on our side of the political divide enjoy these Republicans taunting our president and make the assumption that helping their candidacy–with a donation or amplifying their message–will hurt Trump. I ask them: Why should WE do that? Let the disaffected Republicans do that work. This is their problem, not ours.

I wrote this a while back specifically about talking about Trump on social media, but the lesson applies to anyone on the opposite side of the aisle: Are you unintentionally helping Trump? 

We have plenty to work on. We’ve got the 2019 elections to win, a presidential candidate to pick, and hundreds of 2020 elections up and down the ballot to prepare for.

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10 replies

  1. This is disappointing to me and demonstrates to me that you’re not interested in being fair-minded, not determined to be unbias and we need less of that in today’s media. We’ve got enough activists disguised as honest journalists. I think anyone calling out Trump, no matter his or her political affiliation is to be applauded for seeing him as the fraud and unfit president that he is. To not cover that from any angle is further demonstration that you’re not interested in reporting truth but merely echoing party sentiment. Remember, truth has no political affiliation. Think about it.

    • A cursory look at my blog should make it clear that I am not here to boost Republicans. I fervently believe that at this time in our history, replacing Trump with another Republican is a bad idea. Bill Weld seems like a decent human being, but I disagree with his policy prescriptions. Joe Walsh (and Mark Sanford, if he decides to run) are the worst types of Republicans. By all means, go look them up yourself. If either one seems like a better alternative to you than any one of the Democrats running, this blog might not be for you.

  2. I beg to disagree. I like almost all your posts but here’s my take on this issue. Joe Walsh may siphon some “tea party” voters away from Trump. Bill Weld (he’s been awfully quiet) may siphon some more moderate Republican voters away from Trump. Both may therefore help tip the balance to the Demo candidate. Sort of like Ross Perot may have been what got Clinton into the White House in the 90s, and Ralph Nader helped defeat Al Gore, and more recently how Jill Stein et al probably tilted the 2018 election to our Vulgarian in Chief.

    • I have no doubt that various political media outlets (Politico, Vox, 538, McClatchy, etc.) will talk about the potential of these primary candidates to do harm to Trump. This blog, however, is focused on discussing political issues of the moment and whenever possible, letting folks know what action they can take to help. This is why a discussion about GOP challengers doesn’t make sense here — there’s absolutely no action I want folks on our side to take. Should we be sending money to these candidates so they can “hurt Trump?” No. I prefer that we focus our actions on supporting and amplifying our many great Democratic candidates.

      • My bad. I was comparing apples and oranges. I was thinking of a third party candidate rather than a Repub primary challenger. I think my thinking was good but not until we get to the general election. My desire to unseat him overwhelmed my understanding of how the process actually works. Whatever, he must be defeated!

      • On that point, we both agree wholeheartedly.

  3. You are so right! Law of Attraction brings more of what we talk about. So who and what I DO want is what I talk about instead.

  4. It might be interesting to do a piece explaining why anyone but Trump (even if it’s, say, a Mark Samford) is not a sound way of thinking through things. After all, it might be helpful for people to not just know about these candidates, but understand where certain policies fall waaaay short of what the country needs. Of course, that’s just my two cents and I definitely see where you’re coming from.

    PS Historically speaking, strong primary challengers to a sitting POTUS tends not to end well for the party in power (see 1968 and 1980 for the Dems). So from a strategic perspective, primary challengers to Trump with some oxygen might actually be helpful for the Dems and further weaken Trump. Once again, just my two cents, and I will continue reading and following regardless of what you think of my thoughts here.

    • Trump’s approval among Republicans goes between 82 – 87%. I see little path for any challenger to do much damage. Even if they were stronger candidates, I still would want to focus my posts on boosting Democratic candidates and making the case for why they should win. I think your idea of contrasting two policies so folks can weigh their relative merits is a valid one, but one I’d wait to do until after the primaries.

      • That’s fair. I would argue that polls CAN be fluid (at one point HW Bush had a 90% approval rating overall the year before the election, then the economy tanked and he lost), but it also takes a strong candidate (disagreement aside). And that stronger candidate does not exist.

        Contrasting policies may be interesting, depending on what your philosophy is. My personal philosophy is to be well-educated on even candidates you intensely disagree with so that you know how problematic such a candidate is. But that’s just me.

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