It seems that Democrats and the liberal media want to lose in 2020. For all their protestation, pearl-clutching and foaming at the mouth, judging by their current efforts you must conclude they want to give Trump an eight-year run.
It seems clear from watching the mainstream media and reading the liberal press, that these institutions have no strategy to beat Donald Trump in 2020. In fact, if they hold the course it’s almost certain the Republican is going to win again and get his maximum eight years in office. Before I outline what the media is doing and why it won’t work, here are some political fundamentals:
You can only beat a political rival one of two ways: a) either you get more of your voters to come out than their voters, or b) you get some of their voters to vote for your candidate. That’s it. There is no third, fourth, or fifth magical, innovative or revolutionary method. To beat Donald Trump more people need to come out to vote for the Democratic candidate in 2020, or, some of the people that voted for Trump in 2016 need to switch, or stay home.
To get more people to come out to vote for your guy/gal, you must figure out what motivates people. They need an incentive: a positive inducement to vote. But, if you want a way to get your opponent’s voters to stay home, you should start by understanding why they voted for their guy – without this, you have no shot at figuring out how to turn them off the sitting president.
Judging by what we are seeing from the Democratic side, fuelled by the corporate media, it doesn’t appear that liberals accept what I’ve just claimed are political fundamentals.
It seems that the liberal press (who loathe Donald Trump and want him to be relegated to Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, one-term status) are trying for the second of the two strategies (getting Trump voters not to vote for him next time). Sadly, because they don’t have a base-level understanding of a Trump voter’s psyche, it isn’t going to work.
The media is advancing a battalion of stories about the dishonest way Trump claims credit for businesses deciding to keep jobs in America; his perceptible crony capitalism; his egregious conflicts of interest; his bizarre temperament; his volatile tweeting; his lack of respect for institutions; his flaunting of norms; and the appearance that he will profit personally from relationships he develops while in the Whitehouse. If this all sounds familiar it should; this was the exact strategy the Clinton campaign and her symbiotic news media attempted. They already tried to disqualify Trump – it didn’t work then and it won’t work next time. If you don’t believe me, pretend you’re scrolling through your newsfeed in October 2020… How is anything Trump does in the next four years (out of the categories I’ve listed above) going to be more disqualifying than “grab ‘em by the pussy”, the list of women accusing Donald of sexual assault (and one minor accusing him of rape), alt-right and neo-Nazi associations, rally violence, the spectre of Nuclear holocaust, and Vladimir Putin pulling strings to get him elected? It won’t be. If all the shrapnel hurtling from the Clinton campaign barrel bomb didn’t disqualify Trump, this current “strategy” is, in my view: a complete waste of time. Now, some might argue that with a different candidate, and absent FBI and Russia interference, Democrats can win back their presidential fortunes and return to their much-vaunted Electoral College advantage; the impenetrable blue wall and so forth.
Democrats still don’t understand why people voted for Trump. Liberals seem to believe people voted for Trump because they believe his promises, think he’s a good guy. Those are precisely the things they care about – and almost nothing to do with what Trump voters think about.
I’m not going to discount this possibility. Since we don’t have a counter-factual for the 2016 election, we don’t know if Bernie Sanders or Obama (as he claims) would have beaten Trump. All we know is that Hillary, as Democratic candidate, couldn’t. In any case, I think it’s extremely foolhardy for liberals to stake the next election on the same (as it turns out) faulty assumptions they clung to last time. It’s high-risk to do nothing more between now and 2020 than hope for a better candidate and no FBI or foreign power interference. First of all, Trump is now in charge of not only the FBI but also the CIA, DHS, NSA etc, and if Putin likes the partnership over the next four years, Moscow has even greater incentive to ensure Trump gets re-elected. So, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine the Democrats don’t find a messianic candidate and they have to beat Trump the old-fashioned way.
What can the Democrats offer the electorate? That’s really the only question if you want to get more people to vote Democrat than Trump. Bashing Trump isn’t going to get more people out. Not to labour the point, but they tried that last time. It doesn’t work. I’m going to make this really simple. If the Democrats want more people to vote for them in 2020 than in 2016, and more than will vote for Trump, they need Bernie Sanders’ platform. Not the watered-down, insipid, placating, disingenuous, corporate-tinged, incrementalist, Clinton-campaign version of Sanderism – but the real deal. Sanderism is the true antidote to the ills of the white working class: post-manufacturing decline. By offering Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan that message, the Trump coalition is broken and Donald could lose bigly. They don’t need Bernie per se – they just need someone who sincerely believes in his platform. And there’s the rub. The Democrats have so descended into corporatist politics since the 1990s that they may not be able to put up a genuine candidate to articulate these ideals. That remains to be seen.
Leaving aside the “positive inducement to vote” strategy, let’s go back to why the current Democratic (and mainstream media) approach won’t get Trump voters to switch in 2020.
Democrats still don’t understand why people voted for Trump. Liberals seem to believe that people voted for Trump because they believe his promises, think he’s a good guy, believe he’ll maintain an ethical standard in the Whitehouse, expect him to make the “presidential pivot”, hope he doesn’t get rich while in office, and expect him to abide by the norms and standards of Washington and cut all previous business ties. You must assume they think this way because Democrats keep trying to prove all these positions false. The problem right now is that liberals are only talking to themselves. Those are precisely the things they care and think about – and almost nothing to do with what Trump voters think about. Spending the next four years on this bandwidth will generate absolutely zero political capital, the Democrats will lose again, and once more they’ll fall victim to their “echo chamber” and have absolutely no idea how their beloved country could vote for this monster again!
Here are some hard truths:
- Trump voters know Trump’s a scoundrel
- Trump voters hate Washington
- Trump voters have no faith in institutions
- Trump voters don’t care about political correctness
- Trump voters despise identity politics
- Trump voters don’t care about norms
- Trump voters know he lies… a lot
Coming to terms with these seven points is the only way liberals and the media can hope to formulate a defence against Trumpism. Right now, while they “talk to themselves”, Trump voters laugh about “drinking liberal tears”, making America great again, and so much winning…
Liberals don’t need to write any more articles about ethics violations, personal enrichment, lying, inflated promises or how Trump should, or should not, speak with, or about, government institutions or foreign powers. Trump voters don’t care about that stuff – only liberals do – and we already know liberals aren’t voting for Trump in 2020…
If Democrats want to Stump the Trump they should focus on his policies, say what’s wrong with them, explain the consequences of these “bad” policies to the public, and then monitor their passage and implementation. When these policies start to generate the negative outcomes that were telegraphed, the benefit redounds to the opposition, and the idea that this “outsider”, with his new ideas and brash style, can mix things up in Washington will slowly fade away.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Anti-Trump Left demonstrate extremist Right behaviour post-election
- Social change impossible from within the echo chamber
- Yes, Donald Trump, this is Brexit
But, and this is really important, the media needs to be honest: it needs to stop overshooting its skiis. It can’t say a program is terrible only to have alternative media and the Right-wing press show this was nothing more than hyperventilation and negative propaganda. This is exactly what happened all through the election cycle and the primary reason faith in the media is at 6%. Liberals might be horrified to know that their #fakenews strategy to discredit the Trump win has already backfired. Trump supporters call any liberal media story with a hint of partisanship fake news. So, I’m sorry to say, they stole your line and they’re not giving it back.
Just call it like it is. Be honest about a policy’s flaws and potential benefits. If the policies turn out to be appalling, say so. If they’re successful – well that’s great, right? Absolutely no reason to trash a good policy out of ideological spite – that will only hurt the media in the long run.
…And for god’s sake (and I can’t stress this enough)… Stop. Talking. About. White. Supremacy.
It’s nothing more than a relic of the Clinton campaign that while easy to weaponise, and fun to hurl at your opponents, has absolutely zero political utility, and is one of the main reasons people got off the couch to vote for Trump last time.