Trump Has Found His Ticket(s) to Relection


Trump has been waiting for a moment like this.  After watching some of his rally last night in Greenville, North Carolina, it is clear that the president thinks he has found his path to re-election in 2020.  Trump hopes to ride his racist criticism of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Talib, and Ayanna Pressley to a second term in the White House.  Last night he attacked these women relentlessly.  When Trump disparaged Omar, the crowd chanted “send her back.”

Trump will paint the entire Democratic Party as socialists who share the same views at the so-called “Squad.”  He will mention these four women every night.  He will convince his Fox News listeners that the Democratic presidential candidates are cut from the same cloth.  He will convince people that Democrats hate America and pose and immediate threat.

Of course this entire strategy is built on fear and ignorance.  In 2016 Trump learned that fear-mongering and appeals to anti-intellectualism work.

His appeal to white evangelicals will be the same as 2016.  In fact, this appeal will be more effective in 2020 since Trump has delivered on Supreme Court justices and Israel.  We can only hope that educated evangelicals who voted for Trump in 2016 will see the moral degradation of his presidency and abandon him in 2020.

15 thoughts on “Trump Has Found His Ticket(s) to Relection

  1. Curt,

    Let ask you if he was a bully when he attacked Jeb Bush, John McCain, and others who were not inferior to him politically or socially. Isn’t a bully someone who tyrannizes those who are smaller and weaker? To the contrary, Trump is an “equal opportunity” critic of his adversaries. You might not like his style, but it doesn’t fit the classic definition of “bully.” There might be cases where he has gone after someone who did not first attack him, but from what I can see his venom is usually reserved for those who have first said something critical about him.

    There is a theory that he learned this technique from the late Roy Cohn who advised Trump to never remain on the defensive. Cohn’s advice is similar to George Patton’s tactical philosophy.


  2. Tony, a couple of notes which might help explain where I am coming from.

    (1) My particular focus on the political situation these days in large part centers around my being a part of evangelicalism. So my focus is going to naturally focus on what I regularly see around me. When I look around myself in that world I see, going well beyond just exhibiting the typical politically conservative approach, a great deal of “personality cult” behavior within the evangelical world. I don’t see that same cult of personality, i.e. total devotion and allegiance to a single person, in my exposure to and sojourns within the progressive/liberal world, and especially within the progressive/liberal Christian churches. (I may make an exception on this point for some of the most devoted Bernie acolytes).

    (2) Related to the first point, a question: Which party is having extended and vigorous internal debates along its spectrum regarding strategy and focus and priorities, and which party has pretty much, since mid-2016, closed down all internal debate and now marches lock-step with the pronouncements of its leader, to the point where even mild questioning or criticism of the leader’s most excessive statements and approaches is sufficient to produce retributive action and mockery from the leader and the party’s apparatus? To the point where his demanding, say, a particular economic or trade policy is sufficient for the party to immediately reverse course on decades of consistent advocacy of particular positions on those questions?

    (3) Trump and his political proponents and media supporters are certainly working to paint the picture that the most visibly and vocally left-leaning Democrats are exact representations of the entire party, but that is certainly not the case, although you have to step outside of the partisan media reporting to ever see that. You will certainly disagree with me, but I see a wider range of political positions coming from the Democrat side on a larger number of issues (not all, certainly, but a larger number) than exists on the Republican side, which has mostly become identical to Trump’s.

    (4) Finally, I agree *up to a point* with some of your statements, although certainly not the blanket statements. There are lot of places where I take issue with the Democrats, both in positions and strategy. I am not beholden to either party. I consider myself a politically moderate independent; for me, this is an outgrowth of my belief that as a Christian, I shouldn’t be aligned with and loyal to the powers and principalities of this world. My allegiance must be to Christ, and my engagement with the world around me should be informed by and consistent with that allegiance. I would assess myself as being left-center on some issues and right-center on others. Well, at least compared to the political spectrum of the entire population. Most of my fellow evangelicals would probably view me as utterly indistinguishable from the four Congresswomen currently in Trump’s cross-hairs (see point (3)).


  3. Bullies are rarely very bright. But as a therapist, often working with clients with intellectual disabilities, I was frequently struck by what was often bullies’ acute insight into who in their world is most vulnerable and how to dig the knife of verbal wounding into precisely the most hurtful spot. And for every bully there at least a few other too-well-socialized-to-niceness vicarious bullies onlookers who either silently or vocally cheer the overt bully on. Donald Trump constantly demonstrates his being either a stupid man or a profoundly intellectually lazy and willfully ignorant one. But he is bully smart on who and how to wound with words and he is an Einstein level genius on how to tap into and turn vicarious delight in bullying on a vast scale into political power.


  4. BLJ,

    Jobs were no doubt a big part of it. Jobs are also tied to trade, globalism, and illegal immigration. While the average American was the economic situation, Hillary and the DEMs were arguing for transgender bathrooms, sexual license, and other boutique causes. Of course, they are captive to those interests since that is the source of a lot of their contributions.


  5. Trump hasn’t found anything new. He rode racism and lies to victory in 2016. It is no surprise at all that he is riding them to what he hopes will be victory in 2020. Just look at what his followers say. He encourages racism and bigotry. His followers lap it up. If that’s mainstream America, then this country is going to Hell.


  6. James, Many average Americans want to be sure they can put food on the table. That is the #1 reason so many hardcore Democrats in the Rust Belt flipped and voted for Trump. Ideals are nice, but when Hillary was saying she would take away coal immediately they knew they had to vote for Trump. Keep your lights on and food on the table, or uphold ideals. Those guys knew which choice was obvious! I wonder if they would have voted for her if she had changed her rhetoric and let them know she would make sure they had good jobs!


  7. BLJ,

    You make a great point about the media, academic, and political elites being totally out of touch with mainstream Americans. Sadly, even after several years of Donald Trump setting the agenda the elites still don’t fully understand what is bothering John Q. Public.



  8. John: you claim that Trump is going to “paint the entire D party as socialists who share the same views as the Squad.” First, as James pointed out: this is otherwise known as politics. You don’t have to like it, but the notion that this is unique to Trump is laughable. But far more importantly: why would anyone conclude that they do NOT share the same extremist views held by those ladies?

    Remember the D debate? Remember all the hand raising? (Hilariously, Richard Cohen of the WaPo, realizing what disastrous optics that was, wrote an editorial calling for no more raised hands. Why, if that keeps up, the rubes are going to be clued into how wacky and radical the D agenda actually is!)

    Let’s very quickly go over the positions advocated — without any push back whatsoever — by the leading D presidential candidates. Immigration: If one is caught having entered the country illegally, he or she should not be deported. Further, the government should pay healthcare benefits for all illegals. Hmm … how, exactly, is that not open borders? That’s going to play well in Peoria. Abortion: unrestricted abortion on demand, fully taxpayer funded, even for — gotta love this — “trans females.” Not a peep of disagreement from anyone on stage, just a whole bunch of “huzzahs” for “justice.” Continuing: Kamala Harris wants to abolish private health insurance. Nobody on stage seemed to think that was a bad idea. She also wants mandatory busing (a blast from the past that was deeply unpopular in the 70’s, but which she has now bizarrely resurrected, probably because it seemed like a good way to take a whack at Biden until she realized she would have to defend it going forward.) Elizabeth Warren, among other fully leaded socialist ideas, wants the government to take over — yes, seize the means of production — of all companies with revenue exceeding one billion dollars. Not to mention free college for everyone, and tuition forgiveness. So, taxing middle and lower income families to subsidize people with college degrees. That’s the most regressive progressive plan I’ve yet seen, nevermind how any of it will be paid for. We can add to this laundry list reparations, oh, and hive mind agreement with the holy tenets of the GND, which include abolishing fossil fuels in the very near future.

    The point is, Trump does not need to “paint” the D party as extreme. It is extreme. At least, every single D presidential candidate — the standard bearers — has signaled they are fully on board with this agenda. They have painted themselves. Loudly and proudly. Here’s public intellectual and progressive in good standing, Tom Friedman, who is, um, shocked:

    “I was shocked that so many candidates in the party whose nominee I was planning to support want to get rid of the private health insurance covering some 250 million Americans …”
    “I was shocked that so many were ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country. I think people should have to ring the doorbell before they enter my house or my country.”
    “I was shocked at all those hands raised in support of providing comprehensive health coverage to undocumented immigrants. I think promises we’ve made to our fellow Americans should take priority, like to veterans in need of better health care.”

    Other progressives who care more about winning elections than hashtags have expressed similar worries. Well, maybe Tom has become a racist, nativist fearmonger in the last week. Or, he — as a down-the-line progressive, has suddenly realized how radical and out of touch the leaders of the D party have become, and how this is perceived by voters.

    You know how to prevent Trump from “painting” these folks as authoritarian, far left social engineers whose preferred policies, yes, frighten most politically moderate Americans? Present a viable candidate who isn’t on board with this stuff — and who has the guts to say so. Unless Biden locates a spine, you may search in vain.


  9. Jeff,

    I think you are onto something in your final two paragraphs. Trump has been continually underestimated by his opponents. He actually has very keen political instincts. In 2016 the establishment GOP candidates such as Jeb Bush failed to see this. Jeb’s well-paid consultants never saw what hit them until it was too late. The same can be said of Hillary and her handlers. “Don’t worry, Madam Secretary. We can handle this nativist rube with money to spare.”

    The same type of people underestimated Ronald Reagan when he announced his successful run for president. “That old cowboy is past his prime. Sure, Jimmy Carter has problems, but who is going to take Reagan seriously?”

    Jeff, your musings about Trump’s level of intelligence mirror my thinking on the subject. I don’t know if he has an unusually high IQ or not. What he does have are excellent instincts. He is the political equivalent of a good football linebacker. Those guys may or may not be able to comment on the finer points of The Federalist Papers, but they can instinctively discern where the line will open even before the football has reached the quarterback’s hands.

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  10. James, I think most people are aware of what is happening and see it as a matter of how they want this to go. A lot of people see it as two cars heading towards a cliff. Do you want to be in the car that is going 65 MPH or the car that is going 125 MPH? Neither is preferable, but there does not seem to be another viable option. Like I mentioned in the comments, Trump is terrible. But clearly he understands what is happening better than the academics, political elite, and media. It is past time the gatekeepers of society wrestle with the possibility that they might be part of the reason the Trump phenomenon came about! But that will involve us asking questions of ourselves we might not want to know the answer to…


  11. “Identifying a common enemy.”

    “To blame for all their grievances.”

    “An enemy so bad, so dreadful, that NO action taken against that enemy can be viewed as too extreme.”

    Dave: I take no issue with your assertion that those apply to some (maybe you would say many or most) Trump supporters. But, respectfully, the fact that you apparently don’t also think that those statements perfectly describe meellions of Trump opponents, who have been spleen venting apocalyptic hysteria (Hitler! Concentration camps! Orange Manchurian Candidate! Worse than 9/11! Worse than Pol Pot, Andrew Johnson and Mr. Burns, combined! The most evilly —Ist President evah!) since the day he was elected, is rather amazing.

    Cult-like behavior is not limited to one side of the political divide. I would argue — I know you disagree — that these days, it resides predominantly, and in its most feverish and irrational form, on the Left.


  12. I think what you are saying is partially correct. Trump definitely is playing off people’s fear and ignorance. But his rhetoric about the extremism in the Democratic Party is not off-base. Joe Biden was once considered part of the “far left” decades ago but is now considered to be a moderate despite the fact that his views have not changed much. One only has to look up interviews where Democrat politicians are asked who they consider to be influential on their thinking and find them mentioning political philosophers and thinkers who were deeply influenced by Marxism. Obama’s own autobiography is filled with disturbing views that are deeply at odds with Western political philosophy. Whether these four women hold to radical ideals is in question. Whether many Democrats serving in Congress hold to radical ideals is not in doubt at all. It is in hard print. Will Trump use this to his advantage via fear and misinformation? His speech in Orlando a little while back points to yes. Based on what is happening and who the potential Democratic candidates are, the Democratic Party has to reckon with the fact that, yes, Trump is quite terrible, but he understands the culture quite a lot better than they do. Which is something they ought to think long and hard about if they plan on winning the 2020 election.


  13. John,
    What you see as moral degradation is seen by others as brass knuckle politics, the same thing the DEMs have done since the shameful treatment of Barry Goldwater and Robert Bork.

    Interestingly, the president is, according to polls, winning this battle not just with Evangelicals but also with the independent voters he will need in the next election. Are these independents also anti-intellectual nativists?


  14. Getting a large number of people to buy into extremism requires identifying a common enemy to blame for all their grievances . . . an enemy that is so bad, so dreadful, that NO action taken against that enemy can be viewed as too extreme. We have a critical mass of people in this country who are locked into a personality cult, where the only thing that matters any more is defeating the common enemy which for them is increasingly growing to include everyone who is not exactly like them. They will respond to any call the leader issues, the more extreme the better, and they will vigorously defend him no matter what he says or does.

    We are on a dangerous path. I am well past the point where I see any positive way out of this mess, I think we are beyond the tipping point. Broad is the way that leads to destruction.


  15. I held my nose and voted for Trump in 2016. I expected, or hoped in the thought he would have to surround himself with reasonable people and they would really run things and he would be happy just being the two bit entertainer.
    I won’t vote for him again. I have come to my own personal policy on voting. As a Christian I believe my real citizenship is that other kingdom. Though I do have my earthly citizenship in the USA.
    For me I think the best thing is to not choose the lesser of evils but to vote for candidates I really believe would be good for that office and the country.
    If there isn’t someone I can vote for with a fairly good confidence I will just leave that one blank.

    I think Trump is smarter than many of us have given him credit for. Not that he is extremely smart. Smart enough to do what he is doing with some significant number of Americans.
    Unfortunately he is not overly endowed with wisdom, empathy, compassion, or humility. It’s frustrating to mostly be only a witness to this.

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