Alan Zendell, September 1, 2020
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson offered some advice on Tuesday to people who are afraid Donald Trump might lie, cheat, and steal his way to re-election: behave as if you think Biden is trailing instead of up by nine points in the polls. “…be paranoid that Trump’s encouragement of right-wing violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin might tip that vital swing state in his favor. Worry that Democrats are not paying enough attention to Michigan and Pennsylvania; that Biden’s polling lead in Florida might be a mirage; and that states such as Georgia and Arizona might not really be as purple as they now appear to be. Then act vigorously on those concerns, and be confident that if you do, Trump is toast.”
The complacency of the 2016 Clinton campaign that somehow failed to notice Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania slipping away will not be allowed to take shape this year. No matter how incompetent and disorganized the Democratic Party sometimes appears, they won’t screw this up in 2020. Their 2016 Chairperson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, spent her time rigging the primaries and alienating the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. Tom Perez, who replaced her after Clinton’s defeat learned from her mistakes. He has worked tirelessly to unite the party, no easy task under such a wide tent.
The only thing that unites Democrats is their animus for Trump. You might worry that that’s not enough to sustain Biden’s momentum for sixty-three more days, but Trump makes it easy. The attributes that were successful in 2016 are stale now. His support for right wing groups, his unapologetic pandering to hatemongers have their downside now that Americans have awakened to who and what Trump really is.
He’s playing to his base, more specifically to people who voted for him in 2016, who weren’t really part of the Anger Cult, like the women he likes to refer to as suburban housewives. He knows his behavior in office has alienated many of them, though he apparently doesn’t understand why. None of the suburban women I know think of themselves as housewives. That description worked in the 1950s when Joe McCarthy, one of Trump’s role models, warned that Communists would murder helpless women and children in their beds.
Today’s suburban women are not helpless. They’re well-educated professionals pursuing careers. Trump desperately needs their votes, but he won’t get them by calling them housewives. His lack of respect for women will sink him, something his narcissistic personality makes him incapable of seeing.
Eugene Robinson was right. Although Trump is his own worst enemy in 2020, we cannot be complacent. Contribute what you can to candidates who want to end the sickness that is Trumpism. It’s the most important investment you can make in your children’s future. Pay attention. Stay engaged, and don’t be shy about calling out his lies and insane conspiracy theories. But don’t overdo it.
Be aware of what Trump says and does, but don’t become agitated by it. Trump thrives on attention and television ratings. The way to starve this beast is simply to ignore it. There’s no need to listen to his rants and shake your fist at the TV. The best way to take the air out of Trump’s balloon is to tune him out.
Trump feeds on creating anxiety and rage. If that continues, and it will, the thing most likely to re-elect him is emotional voter fatigue. As Kellyanne Conway admitted on Fox News last Sunday, his campaign strategy is to create so many fights on so many fronts that voters are exhausted and go numb. He hopes they’ll crawl into a hole until after the election and not even show up to vote.
It sounds contradictory, but it’s possible to stay in touch with the essentials of the campaign without becoming totally immersed in it. Treat Trump’s rants and unhinged attacks the same way you deal with your five-year-old throwing a tantrum or your teenager lashing out at authority. It’s just a symptom of his arrested development. Be aware of his behavior, but don’t be sucked into it.
The one thing that will drive Trump crazy during the next nine weeks is being ignored. The fact that the Democratic convention’s ratings were 30% higher than his has him climbing the walls of the White House. His head must be exploding over the fact that a million more Americans watched Biden’s acceptance speech than his. The ratings for both conventions were down by nearly a third compared to 2016. It’s a sign that very few people are undecided in 2020, and they are learning to just block the noise.
When you check your favorite media outlet and see Trump forcing himself into the sensitive situation in Kenosha over the objections of the mayor and governor so he could do his tough guy act and claim undeserved credit for the work of the Wisconsin National Guard, don’t tear your hair. Turn it off.