At play here is, I think, a fundamental misunderstanding about the kind of leader voters are looking for. Sure, in the hard-core GOP circles the problem is that they don’t have someone loud enough, harsh enough, bombastic enough, anti-immigrant enough and disrespectful enough. They paint someone who seeks reasonable compromise as a fool or sellout and imagine that stridency is a selling point. For them, Trump is their man. But those aspiring to put a Republican in the White House need to get out of the right-wing bubble and talk to voters who are not in intellectually and physically in deep-red America. They might understand why Trump and Trump worship are so counterproductive to the GOP.
A great number of voters think Republicans are uncompassionate, excessively deferential toward the rich and clueless about the sensibilities of minorities (even when it comes to overt symbolism like the Confederate flag). Rather than Trump, conservatives should look to governors in states with high percentages of minorities and Democrats, such as Michigan, Tennessee, Nevada and New Mexico, who have learned that “conservative” does not mean endlessly confrontational. These Republicans can speak in ways that unite their states and advance conservative goals. Sure, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are not as flashy as Trump. But they and a slew of other Republican leaders are the real “winners” — how Trump loves “winners” — both because they are electable and because they further conservative goals.
A GOP that genuflects toward Trump, grouses about being obliged to take down the Confederate flag, celebrates “self-deportation” and thinks compromise and civility are for losers is not one with a prayer of getting to the White House.