FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2022
What Joe Biden might have said: Is it possible that Donald J. Trump could get elected again?
As we've noted several times, everything is possible!
Could Trumpism prevail in the absence of Trump, through the success of a different candidate? That possibility is possible too. Most possibilities are!
This morning, a bit of gloom emerges from the anti-Trump journalistic camp. In the New York Times, David Brooks says that current anti-Trump strategies have largely failed.
For the record, Brooks has been part of that camp all along. That said, tens of millions of his fellow citizens have had a different view about Donald J. Trump, as is their perfect right.
Concerning those who have opposed Donald Trump, Brooks offers a gloomy conclusion. "My straightforward conclusion would be that most of what we are doing is not working," he says.
According to Brooks, the strategies of our own infallible tribe have failed. Here's the start of his analysis:
BROOKS (9/16/22): Those of us in this [anti-Trump] establishment correctly identified Trump as a grave threat to American democracy. The task before us was clear. We were never going to shake the hard-core MAGA folks. The job was to peel away independents and those Republicans offended by and exhausted by his antics.
Many strategies were deployed in order to discredit Trump. There was the immorality strategy: Thousands of articles were written detailing his lies and peccadilloes. There was the impeachment strategy: Investigations were launched into his various scandals and outrages. There was the exposure strategy: Scores of books were written exposing how shambolic and ineffective the Trump White House really was.
The net effect of these strategies has been to sell a lot of books and subscriptions and to make anti-Trumpists feel good. But this entire barrage of invective has not discredited Trump among the people who will very likely play the most determinant role...
The barrage has probably solidified Trump’s hold on his party. Republicans see themselves at war with the progressive coastal elites. If those elites are dumping on Trump, he must be their guy.
According to Brooks, a large "establishment" has tried to take Trump down.
They've made lots of money selling their books. In selling their books and reciting on cable, they've made blue tribe members feel good.
This "establishment" has been extremely active—and their view of Trump is correct. But in the process of performing those tasks, they may have solidified Trump's hold on his party!
According to Brooks, "Republicans see themselves at war with the progressive coastal elites." Here's where his portrait ends up:
BROOKS: [T]he straightforward conclusion would be that most of what we are doing is not working. The next conclusion might be that there’s a lot of self-indulgence here. We’re doing things that help those of us in the anti-Trump world bond with one another and that help people in the Trump world bond with one another. We’re locking in the political structures that benefit Trump.
My core conclusion is that attacking Trump personally doesn’t work. You have to rearrange the underlying situation...
In Brooks' view, the blue tribe has come to feel even more tribal—but the unity of the red tribe has been solidified too. We've left with two warring tribes, he says. In that way, the attacks on Trump just haven't worked.
The attacks on Trump haven't worked, Brooks says. We can't exactly tell you that's right, but we can't really tell you it's wrong.
We can support the columnist's view about the strain of self-indulgence afflicting our massively self-impressed blue tribe. We tend to be sure that we're brilliant and right, and that the Others are immoral and stupid and wrong.
As we noted yesterday, our nation is left with two warring tribes—the red tribe and the blue. As this forever war drags on, the Others are full of crazy belief—and they're constantly name-called by Us.
("You name it," the candidate said in 2016. She had run through a long list of denigrations, starting with "racist "of course.)
Plainly, such attitudes have long been part of blue tribe culture. Whatever one thinks of Brooks' overall thesis, we're inclined to suggest that these attitudes plainly don't work.
We'll note a fairly obvious point which Brooks makes in the passage above. For those of us in today's blue tribe, we're never going to change the minds of "hard-core MAGA folks."
Instead, the job is to "peel away" independents who voted for Trump, along with Republicans who have rethought their position. As we put it yesterday, we need to go after the most persuadable Trump voters, not the "hard-core fanatics."
Do such people exist? Yesterday, we saw the way the Times' Charles Blow doesn't exactly seem sure. In Blow's peculiar calculation, if some Trump voters hold horrible views, we should "blame and shame" them all.
This is the (hard-wired) route our species takes on the way to its endless wars.
Is every Trump voter a slobbering racist? Our deeply unimpressive tribe love to say or suggest this. We refer to the assistant, associate and adjunct professors, and to the rest of flyweights as well.
That said, is every Trump voter a slobbering racist? Below, you see a nugget about some of those folks. It comes to us, live and direct, from the world's leading authority:
In the United States, Obama–Trump voters, sometimes referred to as Trump Democrats or Obama Republicans, are people who voted for Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama in the 2008 or 2012 presidential elections (or both), but later voted for Republican Party nominee Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Data shows that in 2016, these voters comprised roughly 13% of Trump voters...
Various studies estimate the percentage of 2016 Trump voters, who had previously voted for Obama, at between 11 and 15 percent. The Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) found that 11% of 2016 Trump voters had voted for Obama in 2012, with the American National Election Study putting the number at 13%, and the University of Virginia Center for Politics estimating 15%. Expressed in total number of voters, these percentages indicate that between 7 and 9 million 2016 Trump voters voted for Obama in 2012.
Why would you vote for Obama twice, then vote for Donald J. Trump? We don't have the slightest idea, but quite a few people did.
(To find out why, you'd have to ask them. But when journalists try to perform such tasks, our deeply unimpressive blue tribe screams out and insists that they stop. Whatever you do, don't speak to Others! That's what we say Over Here!)
As of November 2020, 74.2 million different people cast votes for Donald J. Trump. And no, these people are not all alike—except in one major respect.
Joe Biden made a blood-red speech about "the extreme MAGA Republicans." He didn't try especially hard to say who he was talking about, though he did say that these people are "committed to destroying America."
To Biden, we'd impolitely say this:
When you talk about people that way, you have to define who you mean. If you don't have the courage or smarts to say who you mean, you may trigger a very large backlash.
We thought Biden was reckless and wrong in the approach he took in that speech, and in the two which preceded it. Most specifically, we thought he should have drawn a clear distinction between the GOP leadership and the GOP rank and file—between the misleaders and the misled.
We even think he might have had enough courage to say that he was talking about many former Senate colleagues—to point to the people who refuse to say the things they plainly know. That would have had Biden kicking up, not seeming perhaps to kick down.
We think Biden should have distinguished between the leadership and the (mis)led. Along the way when he gave that speech, we think he could have done this:
He could have said he respects all American voters—regards them as neighbors and friends.
He could have said that he respects the people who voted for him—and the people who voted against him.
He could have said that he understands that various people hold various views concerning a wide range of topics.
He could have said he respects the people who voted against him, and that he assumes, and respects the fact, that they're sincere in their views.
Most importantly, he could have said this:
He could have said that he understands that every single American voter—every one of his neighbors and friends—holds the very same ownership stake in the American project.
That we all sit on the board of governors. That we all have an ownership stake.
Having said those things, he could have said this—and this would be very important:
Each of us has a citizen's duty to question the things we're told.
We Democrats frequently misstate too, he could (quite correctly) have said. Other people are right to challenge us when we do.
But those of you on the other side have a duty to fact-check your facts. You can't assume that something is true just because somebody said it.
I respect every single voter, this blood-red fellow might wisely have said. That said, you have a citizen's duty—and I have that same duty too.
Tomorrow: Something we saw as a college freshman (we'll try to tie up some loose ends)