The good news is that Trump is down to a record low in job approval for a President six months into his first term…36%. The bad news is that 36% is too high to get rid of him via impeachment in the House and removal in the Senate.
Trump is losing the smattering of democrats and a significant number of the independents who were with him in 2016. He is, however, retaining his base. That’s the core of Republican voters who like him because of the people and institutions Trump purports to hate and still campaigns against.
We’re talking Obama, Hillary and the mainstream media. Trump can’t let them go. Bashing them is his ticket to survival. It makes the base feel good. That’s the power of hate. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Do I have a whole lot of studies to cite in support of my theory on the power of hate in politics? Not really. But, I can draw your attention to a couple of savvy political operators and a sage from way back in American History.
The operators: Kevin Phillips and Ed Rendell. Phillips was one of the architects of Nixon’s southern strategy that helped Nixon win in 1968. He said that “the secret to politics is understanding who hates who.” Nixon played that truism in the south like a virtuoso violinist. Ed Rendell (no similarity to Tricky Dick) was a successful Governor of Pennsylvania, and former Chairman of the Democrat National Committee. Rendell observed “in politics hate is a far stronger motivator than love.”
So who’s my “sage from way back” to quote myself? Why Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), of course. I thought you’d never ask. The essayist, philosopher and author of “Walden”.You know, the guy who hung out at a cottage in the middle of Walden Pond near Concord, MA and thought big thoughts in the pursuit of right living.
Was Thoreau a hater? No, quite the contrary. But, amongst his many observations on the condition of the human race is one particular observation that couldn’t help but be music to the ears of any and all hucksters, con men and political opportunists past present and future. Thoreau observed that “the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”
A natural born con man, opportunist would find hidden gold in that observation. You want to make a dollar or get a vote from those who spend their lives in “quiet desperation”? No problem. Find out what’s at the bottom of their feeling of powerlessness? Do the desperate feel exploited? If so, by whom? Or what?
Say, folks feel they’ve fallen behind the curve on technology and their level of education is not current with the marketplace. Solve their problem. Give them an instant education and make it expensive so they’ll think its good. Call it Trump University. Why not? If its all a con…so what? If Trump didn’t exploit the desperate schlumps someone else would. Free enterprise baby…love it or leave it!
Now, suppose its not money but votes is what you want. If the Republican Party is your preferred vehicle to power, it doesn’t take much research to know that the road to success within the party is to hate Obama more than any of your opponents. Trump out did them all. He embraced birtherism straight away. In Trump World, not only was Obama bad, he probably wasn’t even an American.
Trump even hired a team of investigators to go out to Hawaii and document the fact Obama wasn’t born in America. The base loved it! He announced publicly “you wouldn’t believe what they’re finding”.
You’re right big boy…we wouldn’t. Not only that, we don’t believe anything else you say.
In addition to his hate Obama, hate Hillary, and hate the media obsessions Trump has tried to sell the idea that he is “a leader who knows how to win.”
Let’s take a look at Trump’s role in his party’s oft repeated pledge to “repeal and replace Obamacare on day one.” Well, we’re getting close to day 180 and the best you can say about Trump’s efforts is that at the moment of truth Trump “choked like a dog”.
First, he never mastered command of the subject matter. He didn’t understand the bill he was supporting so he couldn’t have an intelligent and persuasive conversation with senators in his own party who were getting an earful from their constituents about specific provisions.
Second, for three days before the bill’s collapse, he was lounging around one of his golf clubs in New Jersey hanging out with assorted hangers on and sycophants watching a golf tournament. Seriously. An actual leader would have done his homework to know exactly where the weaknesses were amongst his supporters and gone to those states (Utah, Sen. Mike Lee and Kansas, Sen. Jerry Moran come to mind). Meet with them and, better yet, go with them to a meeting with constituents and answer the tough questions in an open forum. That’s what a leader would do.
Donald Trump cannot be believed and he has not led.
Comments are welcome at tomc[at]wednesdayswars[dot]com. Comments will be addressed in subsequent posts.