First off, I am firmly #NeverTrump.
So this is not about ‘Trump being not-all bad’. Far from it. He’s a disaster.
The Trump Candidacy gives the GOP a chance to differentiate itself from the lead-weight around it’s ankles – the sort of voter who backs Trump.
If you were like me, you spent the last 6 years going ‘What the hell are they talking about, we’re meritocratic capitalists, not racists?’ when various media-personalities described the entire GOP as Trumpkin-ish.
I am willing to bet that most of us don’t really interact with the typical ‘Trump Supporter’ that much, except maybe some-guy-at-work, or that crazy retired uncle who thinks UFOs are real & the CIA killed JFK…
Trump’s candidacy has pointed out that these people do exist, and that they are tangentially associated with the Republican Party – and by that association the conservative movement.
It is in our best interest not to figure out how to ‘reach out to them’, but to break contact. Their association hurts us more than it helps.
The natural constituency of Conservatisim is not Trump’s ‘poorly educated’ lower class voting bloc. Such people are naturally inclined to back ‘Big Government’ so long as it is helping *them*.
This does not mean that they are ALL going to be liberals – just that this demographic is nowhere near as fertile ground for the Conservative economic message, while it IS fertile ground for the liberal ‘identity politics’ one.
The natural ‘base’ for Conservatisim are middle-class suburbanites, living in naturally ‘small government’ communities, along with exurban & rural voters who live in places that are largely ‘ungoverned’.
Such people have worked very hard to live a private & independent life, and as they see conservatisim-in-practice (via living in a place where government just *isn’t there* beyond police, schools & roads) are more amenable to the message of self-sufficiency & personal responsibility that is at the core of what we believe.
However, such people are also repulsed by the stereotypical-Trump-supporter (and Sarah Palin, strange guys dressed like George Washington, etc), whom the MSM has made the ‘face’ of the Conservative movement.
Anecdotal, personal evidence:
My wife grew up in Sunnyvale California before moving to Washington to attend Graduate School. She has a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, is an observant Catholic & has lived her entire life in upper-middle-class suburban communities. Before we met, she was a self-described moderate, pro-life Democrat, and she expressed quite a bit of shock at the discovery I wasn’t. The first words out of her mouth were ‘So you wanted Sarah Palin to be President?’. Over the course of our relationship, the topic of politics did come up & she has gradually realized that (a) All Republicans aren’t Palinite Populists, and (b) that her beliefs probably make her a moderate-to-liberal Republican, rather than a moderate-to-conservative Democrat. She is firmly #NeverTrump & was willing to support Cruz to stop Trump. She also will not consider voting for Hillary or Bernie.
People like my wife are the future salvation of the Conservative/Republican/Libertarian alliance, that is our only hope for holding back the Left.
As the Democrats become more shrill, isolated & authoritarian – and as their identity-politics rhetoric labels suburban life ‘racist’ and ‘bad for the planet’, people who do not want to be told *where to live* (or that their big yard makes them racist & greedy) by the likes of Tom Steyer, Julian Castro & Bill DeBlazio will be open to an alternative politics.
A majority of Americans live in small suburban towns – including almost-all-of the educated, middle/upper-middle class that is the GOP’s natural base.
Many of them are at least RINOs in their wallets & heads, and *all of their neighbors are likely the same way*.
Outside of ‘hard Red’ states like TX, few of them know a ‘Weekly Standard’/’National Review’ conservative who actually talks to them about politics – and thus the print-media stereotype (along with the one their college professors held) of Conservative Republicans defines their view of who we are.
They think all Conservatives are Trumpkins & ‘Larry the Cable Guy’ types, and are thus baffled at the oppostion to Trump (pre political conversion, my wife likely would have asked me ‘So you’re for Trump?’ if we had met in September 2015). They also share our view that Trumpkins are vile, repulsive creatures who are trying to take America in the wrong direction.
Which makes them into moderate Democrats. They aren’t really on board with the Dem agenda – most oppose Obamacare, support the Gingrich-Clinton welfare reforms & don’t see the teacher’s unions as the savior-of-America’s-children – but they aren’t willing to join the party of mad-at-the-world underachievers (Which is how they see us now), either. The ‘GOP with Trumpkins’ is dangerous, scary & must be stopped – even if it means voting for a party they don’t fully agree with. The ‘GOP minus Trumpkins’? That they might actually vote for, as we support their best interests.
If we can have a clean break with the Trumpists, we stand a chance to sway such people over into the Republican ‘leave me alone’ coalition, and gradually shift them right over time. The Trumpists will, likely, drift back to the Democratic Party, provided they can convince the D-PTBs of their certified-victim-status…
This ‘suburban alliance’ coalition (aka ‘The one that made Walker governor of WI’) may not get us ‘Cruz 2020’. But it would probably be enough to get us ‘Walker 2020’ or ‘Rubio 2020’ – which is better than Trump, Sanders, or Julian Castro.