If Trump Wins…
It won't mean most Americans are racist. It will mean the Left scares them.
In “normal” times, an incumbent president saddled with a country mired in pandemic and facing the worst unemployment numbers since the Great Depression would be doomed to a single term.
But these aren’t “normal” times.
It’s obvious that many voters don’t like their choices. Some even loathe the options being presented to them. They think they’re being forced to choose between a candidate who may take their leg and another who might take an arm. They’re making cold, hard calculations about which candidate will allow them to bleed out more slowly. Because at this point, voting is really just electoral triage.
Voters on both ends of the political spectrum have made their peace with the body parts they’re willing to lose, but it’s those in the middle who will have the final say.
If Trump wins over these people, some will argue it’s because the center has given way to a silent contingent of racists. Or because they’ve been fooled into thinking he’s making America great again. Or because they were persuaded his handling of the pandemic wasn’t so bad. Or because they prefer to have a “businessman” in charge when the economy begins its swan dive into the abyss.
But it’s also possible that Trump could swing these people into his camp for another reason: despite all his flaws and baggage, he scares them less than the alternative. Independent voters may break for Trump because they’re terrified by the rising cult of the “woke.”
As a person dedicated to civility, tolerance, diversity, and equality, I can't help but notice the party I once called “my own” no longer seems to reflect these values; it’s become antithetical to them. I’ve learned the hard way that expressing my opinion to liberal friends comes at a cost. Last week, my partner learned the same lesson.
One of her friends, a woman she has known since 1995, warned her Facebook tribe that she would excommunicate anyone who “had voted for Trump, thought about voting for Trump, or will vote for Trump.” My partner, a passionate Democrat, voiced her concern. She had never voted for Trump and would never consider voting for him, but she couldn’t imagine eliminating someone from her social circle based solely on their voting preference. She values her relationships with friends because they share common ground on levels that often transcend politics. She appreciates and respects that different experiences yield different perspectives.
Within minutes of posting her response, my partner was “blocked.”
It makes no sense, and yet we can clearly see what's happening. People committed to doing the “right” thing are exhibiting behavior that reasonable people simply can’t fathom.
The Left embraces freedom of speech — as long as it doesn’t run counter to their narrative. Students lobby for “safe spaces” on campus to express their opinions, yet fight to ensure dissenting voices aren’t allowed to speak. Anti-racists spew hateful vitriol at the “other” side, then cry foul if a slightly insensitive comment offends a “protected” class. People who abhor violence beat others for wearing hats and t-shirts supporting the “wrong” party. Kathy Griffin even felt comfortable holding Trump’s severed head in a photo shoot (can you imagine what would happen if a white person “mocked” the first black president by pulling the same stunt?)
In other words, well-intentioned, well-meaning people have become everything they claim to loathe in Donald Trump: dangerous, vicious, and intolerant.
Granted, this isn’t occurring throughout the Democrat party; it’s happening on the fringes. The problem is that the fringe Left has become extremely vocal and also very powerful.
Lately, they’ve gone a step further. They’re pushing the envelope, and it’s a gambit that could cost them the election they so desperately want to win.
Democrats scoff at the notion of a “law and order” president, but as the country enters its fourth month of sporadic unrest following George Floyd’s tragic death, more Americans in the middle are quietly observing the fallout from violent protests and rioting . More recently, they’re taking note of two lives claimed by unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. These politically-unaffiliated voters are paying attention to what’s happening around them, and they don’t like what they see. It’s making them very nervous.
They’re disturbed when they see Seattle’s Democratic mayor allow hundreds of people to commandeer several city blocks and declare it a “police free” zone with no visible sign of leadership. They’re unsettled when they watch Democratic leaders inspire protests that have turned violent, unleashing opportunistic looters who ravage small businesses and set cars aflame. They’re confused when they’re told groups of ten people or more threaten lives while Democratic governors encourage millions of Americans to take to the streets in the midst of a pandemic.
And most of all, they’re terrified by the cries to defund and abolish the police in the early stages of what may be the Greatest Depression this country has seen. More than half of all small businesses that closed during the COVID-19 lockdown will not reopen, more than 51 million Americans are unemployed, and millions face eviction in the coming weeks. In other words, it’s becoming clear to anyone paying attention that a whole lot of people are about to become more desperate than they already are.
Reasonable people in the middle know it’s a mistake to reduce the presence of law enforcement in this climate. These aren’t people who think black lives don’t matter or who tolerate police brutality. But they suspect the alternative —a rising tide of assaults and homicides committed by civilians — is even worse.
Between January 1 and August 2, New York City saw an “unprecedented” 39% rise in crime as arrest numbers plummeted in the face of epic backlash against law enforcement. From June 29 to July 6, the number of police officers filing for retirement soared 411% as men and women in blue realized they’ve “been abandoned by the NYPD and elected officials.”
In the wake of a de-funding initiative that redirected $1.1 million from the police salary budget, Minneapolis has seen the departure of 80 officers, leading to a “summer crime spree.” In some areas, burglary is up 82%, auto theft up 105%, robbery up 43%, and aggravated assault up 39%.
The story is the same around the country. When police become targets and persona non grata, they lose their incentive to serve their communities. And Americans in the middle are taking note of this.
Cries to defund and abolish the police may placate those on the fringe Left, but they’re alienating voices that are far more important in the coming election. An August 13 Pew poll found that 59% of voters consider violent crime to be “very important” to their vote — only three points less than the coronavirus pandemic.
Those in the middle are speaking, but the hard Left isn’t listening. They don’t understand average Americans of all colors — white soccer moms in the suburbs, working and middle class black families in cities, and people of color in poverty-ridden communities— aren’t on board with demonizing and reducing police ranks because they need these people to protect them, now more than ever.
And the polls are reflecting this sentiment.
Biden’s advantage in key battleground states has slimmed dramatically over the summer. In June, shortly after the nationwide protests sparked by Floyd’s death, he led Trump by 16 points in Minnesota; today, the state is in a statistical dead heat. From Michigan to Pennsylvania, from North Carolina to Arizona, Biden’s once comfortable lead has been whittled to low single digits. By contrast, an August 24 CBS poll found Trump’s lead among independents has now surged to 10 points.
We could blame Biden’s deterioration on emboldened racists or people who don’t take the Coronavirus pandemic seriously. Or we could pull focus and realize that Trump’s appeal has now seeped beyond racists and no-maskers.
Trump's standing is even increasing among a very surprising group of people: blacks. A Zogby poll in April found that 36% of blacks approve or somewhat approve of Trump’s job performance while Democrats are underperforming with disillusioned black voters. On August 26, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd observed that both the Biden and Trump campaigns think “there is a chance that Donald Trump could overperform with African American men…it’s a concern of the Biden campaign and it’s a focus of the Trump campaign.”
Does this mean black people have lost their minds or they’re turning a blind eye to a racist? I don’t think so.
I think it’s happening because as bad as Trump is, a growing number of black people may feel the Democrats have nothing better to offer — and in some respects, what they're offering may even be worse for them. Because when you’re trapped in poverty and living in conditions that lend themselves to crime, you’re not encouraged by the thought of police leaving your neighborhoods, even if you know some of them are bad seeds. It’s a risk you’re simply not willing to take.
I’m not the only one picking up on what’s happening. CNN’s Don Lemon is coming to the same conclusion. Please take two minutes to watch this clip:
Lemon is seeing what Democrats on the fringes are missing: their party has gone too far — and it may pay a steep price. “The rioting has to stop,” Lemon said in a CNN segment with Chris Cuomo. “It’s showing up in the polling. It’s showing up in focus groups. It is the only thing — it is the only thing right now that is sticking.”
Whether we cling to the Left, the Right, or drift somewhere in between, most Americans are good people. We all know our country is in crisis, and we all want to save it; we just have different ideas about how to do this.
But alienating people who don’t agree with us won’t fix what’s gone wrong. Encouraging and emboldening fringe elements won’t advance our common interests.
If Democrats truly want to remove Trump from office and believe they have a plan for putting this country back on track, then they need to make a more compelling case -- and seriously reassess their strategy.
We’re still more than sixty days out from the 2020 election, and in this wild environment anything can happen. But if Donald Trump wins, it won’t necessarily be because he “stole” the election or because mail-in ballots sabotaged the voting process.
It will be because the Democrats snapped defeat from the jaws of victory.