After an incredibly chaotic and depressing week, it’s important to take a broad look at the perpetrator of all the chaos, Donald Trump, and see what lessons we can learn, if any…
What role does chaos plays in the Trump universe? According to David Graham of the Atlantic, Trump needs crises to maintain his support.
The Trump candidacy was itself based on creating a sense of crisis. This was no small feat, given that Barack Obama was reasonably popular and the economy was growing. Yet Donald Trump adeptly manufactured a series of crises that helped convince slightly less than a majority of the country to vote for him, despite his manifold weaknesses as a candidate.
Graham describes how Trump creates crises to distract from real issues. This was true of his handling of Puerto Rico, where the initial media focus was not on the death and suffering of its citizens but on the behavior of Trump himself. It has also been true of the Mueller investigation. Whenever news breaks of an indictment, Trump says or does something inflammatory that takes at least some focus off the Russia probe and onto some grotesque aspect of his character that his supporters always ultimately ignore.
This latest crisis, family separation at the border, was wholly manufactured by Trump in order to draw attention back to immigration, which his vile adviser Stephen Miller insists is a winning issue for the GOP in the midterms. Trump gets a chance to replay for his voters the myth of a wave of murderous Latin criminals about to overrun every community in America, and he even gets a chance to solve this crisis of his own making by issuing an executive order–so presidential!
The critical question then becomes, how long can Trump keep creating problems, lying about them, and then “fixing” them before he depresses Republican turnout? If nobody who voted for Trump is turned off after seeing toddlers in cages, will anything else matter down the road?
Charles Pierce argues in Esquire that something in the political atmosphere has changed in the last week after Trump screwed things up so badly:
The president*’s own rhetoric—indeed, the raison d’etre of his entire campaign—trapped him into at first defending the indefensible and then abandoning what was perhaps the only consistent policy idea he ever had—outside of enriching himself and his family, that is. Then the cameras began to roll, and the nation’s gorge began to rise, and the president* couldn’t stand the pressure that was mounting around him. Of course, because he knows nothing about anything, including how to actually be president*, he bungled even his own abject surrender. He’s spent the days since signing his executive order railing against what he felt compelled to do and arguing against himself and losing anyway.
He concludes with this crucial observation about Trump and his cabinet:
…the crisis at the border is a leg-hold trap for all of them. There’s no way for them to keep faith with themselves and get out from under the humanitarian disaster they concocted.
Read the entire article here. It’s worth it:
Trump’s hardcore supporters are obviously going to stick with him whether or not he shoots someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue. But they alone are not enough to re-elect him, nor have they shown the same enthusiasm in recent special elections and primaries that they showed in 2016. He needs to make sure they all show up at the polls, and also needs to depress Democratic turnout. And this fact holds the key to our success in the midterms.
As we circle the wagons around our eventual nominee, we will have two challenges. The first will be to energize our voters to show up to the polls in a historically slack midterm season. We do this by offering policies that will improve their lives, like comprehensive health insurance, and by protecting the social safety net. We also do this by showing our voters exactly how the buffoon president and his sidekick Faso are hurting them and degrading our democracy. Ads with facts about immigration, along with pictures of babies in cages, would be a good place to start. Then ads about the GOP destruction of the ACA, with nothing to take its place.
The second will be to demoralize Trump voters and depress their turnout. Mocking them and screaming about impeachment will have the opposite effect, so instead we must point out all the things Trump criticized others of doing that he himself has done. Like berating Obama for golfing, then golfing way more than any other president. Or berating Obama for governing by executive order, then becoming an even bigger executive order president. Mocking Obama for coddling dictators, then coddling dictators–the list is practically endless.
The same principle applies to Faso. He was a strident tea-party deficit hawk who railed against the mortal threat an expanding Federal debt posed to our nation. But he then turned around and supported policies and legislation that exploded the deficit so that billionaires could get tax cuts.
When it comes down to it, turnout is everything in November. So please get to the polls this Tuesday and select the contender you think will best represent the ideals of the district, will best energize the electorate, and will best contrast with Faso, who deserves to be sent back to the world of lobbying. Let’s keep working to Fire Feckless Faso…