Although Donald Trump’s opponents claim that ousting him from power is more important than any attempted political ouster in modern American political history, the facts on the ground tell a different story. Donald Trump is today in a stronger position than he has ever been, in respect of winning re-election in 2020 and winning re-election by a comfortable margin. The reasons for this are partly due to his own style of politics, party due to circumstance and in great part due to his chief opponents being completely out of touch with Middle America.
Trump retains the right while co-opting much of the centre
Although Trump is known for his unique brand of rhetoric that is often characterised as that of the right, such a characterisation only tells part of the story. Although much of what Trump says is in fact right wing, when it comes to his identification of America’s economic problems and when it comes to his rhetoric on wanting to waste fewer dollars and lives on foreign militarism, his policies are in fact deeply centrist – just as Ross Perot’s were in the 1990s.
Although Trump’s pro-tariff solution to America’s economic woes is deeply misguided, the overall state of the US economy is better than it had been under Trump’s two immediate predecessors. This is not saying a great deal owing to the fact that George W. Bush and Barack Obama presided over a ruinous period in the US economy. That being said, under Trump, things are on the upswing. Although a new recession or even a new major depression is likely only a few years away due to America’s deeply irresponsible policy of overspending and monetising debt, this all important issue will likely be ignored during the 2020 election season.
Because of these factors, Trump can claim the centre ground by saying that on his watch the economy got better rather than worse and that likewise, whilst Trump has not yet ended any of America’s wars, he hasn’t particularly started a new one. Beyond this, the overall success of the Korean peace process (in spite of the deadlock at the Hanoi summit) is an objective success. This is something acknowledged in Seoul, Pyongyang and Beijing and as such, Trump has every right to use this to his advantage in the campaign.
While Trump continues to successfully court the political right, he has also been able to co-opt much of the centre ground without having the soften his infamous rhetoric. This immediately puts his opposition at a disadvantage as far from abandoning the all important centre ground of US politics, Trump has been able to occupy it without apparently trying.
Mueller leaves Democrats without chief talking point
Trump’s opposition miscalculated the odds of the Mueller report offering a severe condemnation of Donald Trump and his family. As it turns out, Mueller found that there was no collusion between Trump and the Russian government whilst nevertheless condemning Russia for attempting to woo the Trump campaign. Because of this, not only was Trump exonerated on the major accusation against him, but now it appears that according to Mueller, Trump in fact resisted the temptation to join forces with Moscow.
Because Trump’s opposition put all of their electoral eggs in the singular Russian collusion basket, they are now left having to enter damage control mode in respect of Mueller’s findings.
Democrats surrender to ultra-liberal emotional extremes
When it comes to the large field of Democrats vying for their party’s nomination, only one is even attempting to speak to the centrist concerns of Middle America. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is currently running as a Democrat but as he admitted on Joe Rogan’s podcast, he has decided to take part in Democratic primaries because he believes he will stand something of a better chance vis-a-vis running as an independent. This is hardly an endorsement of the Democratic party and it is not difficult to understand why.
Yang’s scientific approach to politics is at odds with the emotion driven posturing of both his fellow Democrats and of Donald Trump. The crucial difference is that while Trump has tapped into the emotions of the very large American centre-right and hardcore right, Trump has simultaneously bridged many gaps between Middle America’s political centre and the right. One mustn’t forget that in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was able to do much the same, albeit through the use of far milder rhetoric than that of Trump.
Yang has calmly pointed out the fact that Trump has in fact tapped into the legitimate worries of much of Middle America. Yang however has correctly stated that many of Trump’s solutions are highly misguided. Furthermore, Yang has also criticised his fellow Democrats for failing to realise that the loss of high paying and stable jobs in the US is neither the result of outsourcing nor immigration, but is due to the rise of automation and AI. In this respect, Trump and most Democrats are equally out of touch.
And yet apart from Yang, the Democrats appear to be coalescing around a narrow, sectarian and ultra-liberal agenda that is one part provocative, one part reactive and all parts out of touch. Most Democrats fail to understand that the problems that Trump highlighted during his 2016 campaign remain the issues about which Middle America is most concerned. Yet instead of learning from Yang and offering better solutions to these very real problems, the rest of the Democratic field has opted for an emotionally driven, economically unaware, socially ultra-liberal and far too youth-centred strategy. This strategy forgets that most of the US – even those who don’t care for Trump’s style, remain equally ill at ease with the opposite extreme.
Furthermore, because Trump’s economic and foreign policy strategy remains on the centre ground, by flying so far to the ultra-liberal end of the political spectrum, the Democrats have not only given up on trying to win back some support from moderate conservatives, but they have also abandoned the centre ground to a President from which the centre could easily be taken if Democrats opted for a different strategy.
In many ways, the Democrats have become victims of their own mythology. They are acting as though they believe that America in its entirety is comprised of only west cost and north-east liberals, radical university students or recent university graduates who have yet to enter the real world. This explains why the Democrats have thus far been pushing a field of candidates that looks like a combination of Hollywood wannabes and pseudo-socialist student activists. They clearly don’t understand that such a demographic represents only a small portion of the US electorate as a whole. Crucially this demographic is located almost entirely in states that the Democrats tend to win automatically (California, New York, Massachusetts etc.). By contrast, Donald Trump understands clearly that he must redouble his efforts to win over Middle America in the swing states of the Midwest.
When fighting an emotionally driven candidate like Trump, one can only win by countering emotion with a logical approach that can nevertheless empathise with those whose emotions are clearly aligned with Donald Trump. Instead of taking such an approach, all of the Democratic nominees apart from Andrew Yang have decided to counter Trump with an emotion driven campaign of their own.
Soon, the Democrats will wake up to the cold hard truth that Trump’s emotional language resonates more strongly in Middle America than that of most Democrats. Furthermore, by not even trying to regain the centre ground, the Democrats may be in for an electoral shock the likes of which has not been seen since Reagan’s 1984 landslide.