December 3, 2020

Where Is Trump’s Silent Majority?

Here’s a question for Trump’s silent majority, that self-described swarm of acolytes poised to storm out of hiding to re-elect the president. Why does Donald Trump look like such a loser? 

He tried scaring the suburbs. It was a weak, ill-informed, poorly-timed message that did not work. Especially with the women it was intended to impress.

He tried attacking Biden as a tool of the ‘socialist, radical left intent on wrecking America.’ That did not work, because it’s patently obvious that there is no truth in it. Joe Biden is a million miles away from being a socialist. And the right wing media’s campaign to smear the left faction of the party as being intent on wrecking America is just as obviously untrue.

How about the president’s attack on free, fair, trustworthy elections, the sacred foundation of democracy? “So this is just a way they’re trying to steal the election and everybody knows that,” Trump said in August. “Because the only way they’re going to win is by a rigged election.”

Or the abundance of conspiracy theories – Q anon, the Deep State, the new vaccine will contain micro tracking chips, and the pandemic threat doesn’t exist or is a Democratic hoax to hurt the president? 

Are these the tactical moves of a confident campaigner? Make-believe fear. Grasping at anything that might turn the momentum his way. The president is now promoting fictional science to deliver a vaccine by election day. Nobody believes him. His own administration’s health authorities have sworn Congressional oaths that a vaccine will not be ready and widely available until next year.  

Where is the silent majority, the “herd mentality,” as he called it this week, that ready-to-rise army of hidden voters?  It’s nowhere. It doesn’t exist. Trump’s support is 40 percent of the electorate and declining. This week Olivia Troye, a top official on Vice President’s Coronavirus task force made public her frontline assessment that Trump’s disregard for the virus was politically motivated and reckless. “Towards the middle of February, we knew it wasn’t a matter of if Covid would become a big pandemic here, it was a matter of when,” said Troye. “But the President didn’t want to hear that, because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year, and how was this going to affect what he considered to be his record of success?”

The big lesson Democrats need to embrace is that Joe Biden is a strong and capable candidate who will be an excellent president.

Trump is a dreadful man, a malignant presence in American life.  The country’s condition is dire. It’s on fire and he’s lighting match after match. Its democratic norms and values are in danger. Its people are sick and dying and out of work. Trump has no answers yet defies those he deems dangerous to himself and his re-election. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and the novel coronavirus expose Trump’s ludicrous and dangerous disregard for science. His disdain for the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements displays his nauseating allegiance to white nationalism, hate groups, purveyors of falsehoods, racists, cheaters and misogynists.  

As election day nears and his defeat draws closer, Trump looks noticeably shaken and sounds nearly incoherent. He appeared at an indoor rally in Nevada this month. Look at the video on YouTube. Trump was rattled, scattered, and unable to clearly articulate any thought — unless it was an attack.

It happened again this week in a town hall broadcast on ABC. Trump is lost. He is utterly incapable of answering easy questions on the pandemic, health care, and concerns that any other president would field easily. So he made stuff up, like how he never downplayed the virus, as he told Bob Woodward. He “up-played” it, he said at the townhall. The scene of a president crumbling in real time was so merciless that a Fox News host, Laura Ingraham, confirmed what we all saw by calling the live broadcast an “ambush.” 

The debates will be worse. Joe Biden is a skilled, experienced and informed former senator and vice president, expert on the issues. His appearance last night at a CNN townhall event displayed his sincerity, empathy, likeability, and expertise on a range of domestic and international issues. I particularly liked his answers to whether Russia is an “enemy” and China an “opponent.” Biden quickly responded that Russia is an opponent and China is a competitor. 

Though Trump’s title has been president since 2017, he is visibly ill-prepared. There is little, perhaps nothing his staff can do to ready him for debate against a formidable, well-informed, seasoned opponent like Biden. 

In the next 40-plus days, Trump’s behavior will get more coarse, more volatile, more villainous, more untruthful (if that is even possible), and more disengaged from contemporary events. We are witnesses to the embarrassing and frightening scenario of a president falling apart in real time. 

Still, be prepared for other narratives intended to keep Democrats agitated and nervous. The Web and social media will be ablaze with reporting that the race is tightening, that Trump is making gains in the swing states, that his supporters are armed and ready to take to the streets if he loses. The media will opine that the 2020 election is a race for Biden to lose. 

Always remember that such details are not based in fact. It’s all supposition and projection. A media sales-promoting gambit to attract/distract your attention. 

The real story, to be revealed after the election, has two parts. The first will be that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris executed a masterful, mature, candid and winning campaign. They responded to issues that matter. Ending the pandemic. Reviving jobs and the economy. Stimulating innovation. Addressing climate change, racial injustice, housing, education and income inequality. Restoring the expertise and capacity of the federal government.

The result was that a record number of Americans cast their vote for the winning Democratic ticket.

The second part is that Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, like his presidency, was a big blustery ripe con. The great silent majority for Trump did not show up at the polls. He was unable to master the presidency. In 2020, Trump was buried under an avalanche of disease and disruption caused by his own monstrous malpractice. 

— Keith Schneider

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