Think again!

There seems to be an assumption among Democrats that Donald Trump is so odious, dishonest, narcissistic, corrupt and petty that he cannot possibly win in November.  His impulsive, often false narratives during the pandemic and in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police have cemented the Democrats’ contempt for Trump and reinforced their view that November should be a walkover.  MSNBC talking heads gleefully cite bad poll numbers, while occasionally barely nodding to the fact that the election is still 100 days away.  Trump cannot win?  

Think again.

“Defund the police.”  Is there any expression better suited to reinvigorate Donald Trump’s re-election campaign?  Where would we be without law enforcement?  The average voter still believes in policing, so this catchphrase, which has been massaged to mean many other things, is frightening.  And Trump knows this.  His ad “Abolished” capitalizes on this fear. Watch it and think again.

There have been many sober discussions about what really needs to be done about policing–community based policing, more outreach for recruiting, better training, higher standards.  But all of these require funding.  Even if we strip the police of their surplus DoD equipment, it will take more, not less funding for such labor-intensive tasks as increased training, recruitment with higher standards, as well as quicker and more certain punishment for criminal rights violators.  How about “Reform the police?” Or “Fix the police?”

Joe Biden seems to have recognized this.  In early summer, he said, “We don’t have to defund the police departments, we have to make sure they meet minimum basic standards of decency.”  Decency. That’s the word that should infuse the Biden campaign.

In the era of soundbites, and the 24-hour news cycle, Trump is currently winning the war, notwithstanding the fact that all but one major media player denigrates him.  Part of the reason for this is Trump’s cavalier disregard for the truth.  He is not deterred even when decisively contradicted by a Fox News employee—Chris Wallace – on this occasion, regarding his false allegation that Biden signed a charter to defund the police. (Side note:  how does a journalist like Chris Wallace keep his job at a network so singlemindedly devoted to the President’s reelection?) 

But the Democrats have made it too easy for the incumbent.  What in the world is the Mayor of Portland thinking?  How can he not deploy the Portland police department to prevent demonstrators from trying to torch the federal building?  Mayor Wheeler may be right that the federal agents are “inflaming the situation,” but a little more common sense on Mr. Wheeler’s part would be helpful.  All he has done is provide the GOP with more video for what will be 100 days of inflammatory, deceptive advomercials for Mr. Trump.  And why won’t Lori Lightfoot admit that Chicago has a problem instead of telling Trump’s press secretary to “watch [her] mouth.” Mayor Lightfoot should be out there telling Chicagoans that if they try to torch anything, they will be dealt with. Firmly. But the Mayor is seemingly more focused on Bill Barr’s bullyboys, not law enforcement. So, think again.

The Democrats are their own worst enemy.  Trump won the last election over a qualified, capable but flawed opponent by portraying himself as caring about the Forgotten.  Ironically, this millionaire who steals from his own charity set himself up as the enemy of the uncaring Elites—the Elites who think free trade is a good thing even if it displaces some bluecollar workers, and who wring their hands over some “isolated” rough stuff (like murder) by police while being indifferent to violent civil disobedience that includes torching private shops.   .

Why is this? Marc Thiessen, one of the President’s more rational apologists (setting the bar low here), observed recently that the pandemic has impacted Trump’s voting base much more deeply than it has the upper middle class: “The brunt of the damage is not being borne by the elites who work in the information economy but by those at the middle and the bottom of the economic ladder — the forgotten Americans who were finally doing better under President Trump until this crisis arrived. Before the pandemic, the U.S. economy had added a half-million manufacturing jobs and low-wage workers were experiencing the fastest pay increases. Most of that progress has been wiped out. For these Americans, today’s lockdown seems like a return to the nightmare they experienced following the 2008 financial crisis …. Now, these Americans see the same elites dismissing their suffering once again — insisting we must continue draconian lockdown measures that are putting them on the brink of financial ruin. They see the contempt of the media elites who mock the anti-lockdown protests taking place across the country (look at those rubes, they’re not even social distancing while they march!) and who heap scorn on Trump for his focus on reopening the economy. The message they get is: The elites don’t understand the utter devastation I am experiencing, but Trump does.” 

Of course, the Republicans are their second-worst enemy. The fact that the GOP is in disarray over the next round of help for the truly downtrodden doesn’t seem to register – yet. 

My sideline, amateur, but earnest advice to the Dems is:  support “law and order” but emphasize that it means good, non-brutal policing, join in bashing China, and continue to point out Trump’s affinity for the rich, even including Ghislaine Maxwell.  Fight hard for a stimulus that focuses on the truly needy.  Finally, don’t forget the key distinguishing factor between Joe Biden and Donald Trump  — decency. SIx-pack Joe is decent in a way that Trump does not aspire to, let alone could ever become.

Decency will pave the way.