You have surely heard even the MAGA-iest Trump supporter concede it would be nice if the president would either stop tweeting or learn to bite his tongue just a bit. Yes, the lack of political correctness or what experienced politicians call “message discipline” endeared him to some voters. But eventually the unpredictability wears on people.
So you might think the political class would take a hint and avoid running a bunch of clones of this style. But theirs is an industry in which many copycats just want to wring one more electoral victory (or consulting contract) out of a formula that worked once before, no matter how poorly the suit fits their client. And when the substance is impossible to mimic — because hey, it’s hard to predict who will be the last person in the president’s ear before he opens his mouth — the style is all that’s left.
While we haven’t (yet) gotten to that point in this year’s gubernatorial election, this past week was an indication we might be heading in that direction.
It’s an open question whether Cagle helped himself in May’s GOP primary and/or hurt himself in the general election, should he win the nomination. But he was hardly the only Republican to employ the talk tough/tweet tough method. Not to be out-pandered, Secretary of State Brian Kemp proposed replacing a sound tax change (removing a tax on a business input, i.e. jet fuel) with a truly un-sound one (a sales tax holiday, which shifts consumption rather than stimulating it, for guns and ammunition).
The real problem here, as the Kemp example ought to illustrate if the Cagle one didn't, is the style eventually becomes the substance.
We already saw that with some lower-tier candidates. It’s not reassuring to see the front-runners adopt that tactic.