There may be a disagreement in the country about what constitutes “fake news,” but it is becoming more and more clear that we are witnessing an increasing number of fake political “analysts” breathlessly populating TV news.
Why do members of the major media seem to keep missing the political persistence of the Trump movement? Why do they keep predicting that its political impact is crumbling?
In my capacity at the American Conservative Union, I have the good fortune of having regular conversations with activists from different parts of the country. These interactions throughout 2016 gave me an early insight into why Donald Trump’s candidacy was real. Today they help explain why President Trump, despite some brutal approval numbers in certain polls, is actually as politically potent as he has ever been.
In the run-up to the 2016 campaign, there was a reservoir of goodwill from a large chunk of diverse voters who refused to follow convention, answer pollsters’ questions, or believe that our problems are so routine to require status quo leadership.
The dead-enders of “Never Trump” conservatives and those on the extreme Left who continue to spend their weekends at Bernie’s are assuming that a Trump administration under investigation will result in a stalled agenda and an inevitable deterioration of political support. These political opponents of the President are making the very same mistake.
My political theory is that President Trump has strong attributes that are seen as virtues by a segment of voters who believe that America has been slipping, economically, militarily, and culturally. In fact, many of these voters believe that America is losing part of what makes her special. At such a dire time, it makes sense to turn to leaders who understand the concept of “total war,” with all of its incumbent nastiness that Trump supporters now fully understand that we are engaged.
However, those who long ago rented swamp-view property did so because they see the good of the system as it is. They are mostly prosperous, they are in demand, and they have real power. It is harder for them to see the unfairness of it all. In candor, I too have a blessed life. However, many Americans find themselves in economic decline, as grown-up kids lacking economic prospects move back home and grandparents find themselves being pulled back from retirement to support both their kids and their grandkids. They worry that America is suffering from some mysterious internal disease.
Most members of the national media think America has a cancerous tumor in the form of the new administration, but in the four special elections to date, it is clear that voters disagree and think America is suffering from heart disease, as the result of a bad diet of government excess and infrequent doses of constitutional remedies.
Karen Handel won the Georgia special election despite polling that showed her slightly behind, an avalanche of left-wing money from the rich and famous, and persistent national coverage of how the Russia investigations were weighing her down. Handel’s election night victory showed a better spread than any of the previous polls. Like President Trump, there was a significant outpouring of voters who wanted to add another voice for a new approach in Congress after eight years of President Obama’s left-wing agenda.
This leaves the Democrats with some tough choices. Embracing socialism makes for some emotional rallies complete with tear-inducing stories on NPR, but it isolates the party from most Americans who want a limited government and the ability to make the journey up the economic ladder. Ridiculing President Trump, including courting the support of a “creative” community that rejoices in severed heads and staged assassinations, seems to add to the number of everyday Americans who simply want to give the Trump agenda a shot to turn things around. Finally, #resistance is an effective slogan but it is a terrible communications strategy.
House Democrats need to flip 24 GOP-held seats to capture the majority. In the Senate, Democrats need three pickups. There are currently 23 GOP-held seats that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. In studying the list of these Republican members, it is clear that each has vulnerabilities, but not from left-wing Democrats who wear strange pink stocking caps. Instead, the key to winning these seats is for the Democrats to find candidates who unite the left with those in the middle who may wish to add to the historic wave in the first midterm of a new president. The most watched potential Senate flips are in states that overall are various shades of red.
Elections have consequences, and the most promising one for President Trump is that the voters in these four special elections have sent a very loud message to Republicans to get behind the administration’s agenda. However, there is a much less clear answer to when the Democrats realize that #resistance is just another word for #minority.