Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Why Trump May Win

Trump Will Lose? Don't Be So Sure
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, May 29, 2019, p. A6

(As submitted; asterisks (*) indicate The Gazette modified the text for space reasons: e.g., the previous clause or sentence was deleted, or paragraph heading was run on into previous paragraph; regular formatting was substituted for bold paragraph headings.)

“It is unthinkable Americans would reelect Trump,” a friend said the other day. I told him to think harder. Here’s why.

Trump is president. Most presidents who want a second term get it; recently Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama.*

[Photo credit: Commons/White House.]

He has experienced a win. First-timers find Presidential campaigns difficult; they make mistakes. Trump has a tested, winning playbook. [Added May 30: Moreover, he's been continuously campaigning ever since he descended that escalator into a crowd of paid extras June 16, 2015 -- four solid years next month, with 18 months to go.

The economy’s strong. Whatever the full data may show, Trump benefits from the public’s perception of a healthy economy – a major factor in presidential elections.

He’s a media master. He knows how to keep the stories and cameras on himself while diverting attention from his disasters. Worst case, he can start a war; remember “Wag the Dog”?

America’s gone red.* In 2016 Trump won 2,600 counties, 85 percent of our continental land area. Republicans control both houses in 32 states’ legislatures – the most ever.

He’s near the finish line. With his rock-solid 42 percent he only needs nine percent to win. The Democrat must cobble together 51 percent.

He has Russian support. Russia’s role in the 2016 election was no one-off. Their similar techniques throughout Europe and here will only intensify in 2020. Is it serious Russians can hack voting machines? Sure, but the least of our worries. When they can manipulate voters they don’t need to hack machines. Indeed, when they can foment our self-destructive civil war of words they can destroy our democracy from within without firing a shot.

Trump knows social media. He has already spent about as much on it as the top five Democratic candidates combined. (Are you unaware of how Facebook swings elections worldwide by increasing anger, divisiveness and manipulating voters?* We’ll talk about that after you’ve first read Roger McNamee’s book, Zucked (2019) and watched Carole Cadwalladr’s TED Talk, “Facebook’s Role in Brexit – and the Threat to Democracy” (2019),*)

Trump is unrestrained. His willingness to violate our Constitution, laws, social and political norms of behavior gives him a competitive advantage.

He studies and befriends authoritarian leaders. He uses their techniques. Want examples? He turns immigrants, Muslims, asylum-seekers and Democrats into “the enemy.” To expand presidential power he encourages citizens’ distrust in professional journalism, the judiciary and Congress’ constitutional powers. He transforms the Justice Department into his personal defense team.

Trump feeds his base raw meat. Democrats have ignored their base. President Franklin Roosevelt gave Democrats a coalition of the poor, working poor, working class, farmers and trade unionists. Had Democrats served and maintained that base they would win every election from school boards to the White House. Shoe leather and door knocking have given way to some Democrats’ belief that money from the East coast and voters from the West coast are enough to maintain a winning national party.*

He can avoid primaries. The Democratic Party’s primary candidates can’t. They must first raise and spend money on name identification and primary contests. Some will suffer bruises to their reputations. Party activists and voters are splintered. Those supporting unsuccessful candidates may end up with less enthusiasm for the ultimate winner.

Voter suppression benefits Trump. Many Democrats who want to vote won’t be able to.

Is it hopeless for the Democratic Party’s nominee? Of course not. We have an outstanding couple dozen candidates, any one of whom I’d welcome as a next-door neighbor. But to win Democrats must start with a realistic assessment of Trump’s strengths.
Nicholas Johnson is a native Iowan and three-time presidential appointee; his latest book is Columns of Democracy. Website:* Contact:*

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1 comment:

Kate said...

Right on!