They did it to themselves again. Having gravely imperiled their chance to hold our governorship, Republicans have stumbled into a presidential disaster. A catastrophic, self-inflicted political wound, the Trump Tapes are as Rep. Darren Jackson pointed out “HB2 all over again.”
The tapes are likely to dominate the conversation for an open-ended period. That’s because they are a game-changer. The sentiments on display in those recordings damningly expose the nature of the candidate Republicans have fielded. Such a story is simply too important to fade from view.
Republicans will be stuck defending their reputation regardless of how they try to spin the conversation away from this tape. The dynamic will resemble HB2. The worst possible story for Republicans will crush their attempts to “win the day,” keeping them in a disadvantageous position through November 8. It will impress the event deeply into voters’ consciousness.
And in so doing, this unnecessary crisis will cause the GOP long-term brand damage. It is one thing to suffer a fleeting gaffe–who remembers the “War on Caterpillars”? But when an issue sticks around long enough to become lodged in the voters’ minds, the consequences are hard to undo. As with HB2 and the NCGOP, so with Trump Tapes and the national GOP. They will be working to reverse this harm for years.
And there is one final parallel. Even though it may help them in the polls, Democrats should not celebrate the Trump Tapes. Like HB2, they reveal a deep sickness in our system. Top political figures appear to have little respect for voters outside their base–and we all suffer from how those attitudes corrode our institutions, whether or not Team Blue triumphs next month.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.