Are Democrats Doomed To Repeat 2016?

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Donald Trump is in deep trouble. If polls are to suggest anything, he is set to suffer a Dukakis-level loss against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November. Trump is, on average, lagging behind Joe Biden by a staggering 8.1 pointslagging behind Joe Biden by a staggering 8.1 points. The brand-new swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, the ever-crucial losses which cost Secretary Hillary Clinton the presidency in 2016, have decidedly swung in favor of the Democrats, and even states like Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas are becoming competitive, states that wouldn’t be up in play even in the most ludicrous of Democrats’ daydreams.

Due to a combination of poor media performance, a number of authoritarian gaffes, and a poorly received response to the coronavirus pandemic and George Floyd protests, it seems to me that Democrats can no longer imagine a scenario where Trump can clinch the presidency a second time. They see older voters abandoning him in droves, the hourly “Trump down 12 points” headlines, and slowly begin to relax the part of their brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response to Trump’s presidency.

Thus, Democrats have begun to metaphorically pack up their beach chairs, take their foot off the gas. Nothing more to do here, nothing more to see. No need to vote or stay involved. No need to encourage your friends to vote. In fact, some Democrats have even begun to arrogantly entertain the thought of “How could we possibly lose?”

They are beginning to enter the mindset of the Houston Oilers on January 3rd, 1993, when they were up 32 points against the Buffalo Bills. We’ve got this in the bag, nothing to worry about.

It’s like 2016 all over again: the media, the established, well-reasoning politicians in Washington, and even the American people all scoffed at the idea of a Trump presidency. How could an outrageous orange reality TV star, who constantly says such dumb and caustic things, possibly become the president of the United States?

They ignored his crowds, his energy, his fundraising. Whenever they spotted another “The Silent Majority Stands With Trump” sign at his rally, those in denial would just look at the polls. Clinton is up 5 points, after all; no sweat. In fact, Clinton was so certain she would win that she did not even set foot in “blue wall” Wisconsin the entire election. Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, waxed poetic on Twitter about having our first woman president the day of the election… before any results even came in.

And in the end, their arrogance would be their downfall. In the end, the Oilers lost their 1993 game. The Bills managed to turn around their 32 point deficit and win the day.

Now, I fear, Democrats are making the same mistake that they made 4 years ago. They are once again being lead into the comfy trap that an election against a supposedly terrible candidate will result in a Democratic landslide. I think this is because Democrats and Democratic voters at-large never really fundamentally understood the appeal of Trump. They never understood why his anti-establishment rhetoric made waves, they never understood why he is so popular, and they continue to cling in denial at the idea that Republican politicians will return to their senses after Donald Trump leaves office.

The truth is, whether you like it or not, Trump has a lot of supporters. Shocking! He is adored by Republican voters, regularly earning 90% of their approval. He earned a lot of appeal from his promise to bring jobs back, to guarantee healthcare to all, and end the wars overseas. It was all talk, of course; he reversed course on his populist rhetoric as soon as he was sworn in; but a large enough segment of the population was wooed to carry him into the White House.

Whether or not you agree with him, or whatever you think about Trump’s supporters, people who like Trump are all around you. They are your mailman, your teacher, your cashier, your driver, your doctor, your lawyer, and pastor. I’m surprised I even have to point this out, but such has been the devolution of discourse in America.

In addition to his fervent support among Republicans, Trump has a lot of advantages that Democrats are overlooking. Trump is an incumbent, and in the past 40 years, only one incumbent president has lost their second election. Half of Trump supporters are excited to vote for him, whereas the flip side is true for Biden: half of Biden supporters are NOT excited to vote for him. And while Trump is beginning to restart his rallies, Biden is nowhere to be seen. Trump will be able to at least provide the illusion of leadership and an image of energy and popular support, while Biden will continue to cede ground when it comes to the national conversation.

Most crucially of all, however, Trump has aptly earned the nickname “Teflon Don,” and it is not a nickname without merit. Throughout his 4 years as president, Trump’s approval rating has remained remarkably steady, despite everything the Democrats have thrown at him. He was hounded for his Muslim ban; investigated under Mueller over his Russian ties; lambasted for “both-sidesing” the Charlottesville fascist rally; criticized non-stop for his erratic tweets and behavior; and yet, Donald Trump’s ship of state keeps moving along steadily, as if none of it happened. Why should we think Trump won’t slip out unscathed from this economic and biological disaster?

If there is anything to take away from this article, it’s this: I am highly suspicious of the notion that Joe Biden is going to be crowned president in November. So, to all those that wish to see Trump unseated, do not repeat the mistakes of 2016. Do not become complacent. Make sure to get registered to vote, make sure to volunteer if you want, make sure to talk to your relatives who may still be on the fence. A runner doesn’t slow down as he approaches the finish line, he bursts forth will all the energy still left in him into a strong, clean finish. That’s what we should be doing.

But, should you wish to ignore the dire warnings of those sounding the alarms, don’t be surprised to wake up on November 4th with Donald Trump elected to a second term–and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

 

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