President Donald Trump has been very effective and successful with his main goals. If you have been trying, like I have, to see the pattern in all of his actions, understanding that winning the November 2018 Congressional elections and getting re-elected in 2020 is Trump’s single-minded explanation for all his decisions. Nothing else makes much sense.
Why would Trump be antagonizing our NATO ally, Turkey, over the house arrest of the Christian pastor Andrew Brunson? Why is he punishing Turkey with tariffs and then additional tariffs?
The answer is that Trump is acting to convince his political base that he cares about Christians who are being persecuted overseas. Those Christians who voted for him are eating it up. Finally, there is someone in power who cares about their issues!
Turkey’s President Erdogan is resisting, threatening to retaliate. He has his own home audience to impress. Brunson is just an international pawn, nothing more, nothing less. Donald Trump’s focus is on winning the Congressional elections in November and re-election in 2020. He has had laser focus on those two electoral goals since he was elected in 2016.
Ancient Israel’s King David was a deeply flawed man – an adulterer – yet God called David a man after his own heart. Trump fits that Davidic mold. The revelations of extramarital affairs are merely a reinforcement of Trump’s manliness. “Men will be men,” as they say.
Supporting Israel over the Arabs also dovetails nicely with God’s biblical favor. Who knows: Trump, by bolstering Israel, may help bring a return of Christ to rule the world.
Why does Trump support Big Coal? It’s a dying, polluting industry that is losing out to other, cheaper energy sources. The answer is the same. Supporting coal is a symbol of America’s past greatness. He is energizing blue-collar workers to vote in the November elections in 2018 and 2020. Trump’s focus is short term.
Pollution of our streams, air and earth is not his concern. That’s long-term thinking. It doesn’t win elections.
Why the tariffs on our friends and enemies? It’s a symbolic statement that, as the movie “Network” expressed, “We’re as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.” That sentiment plays really well in the red states. The red state supporters feel that President Obama’s policies of apologizing for America’s sins and mistakes to other nations was a sign of weakness. Trump’s actions represent a more robust and unrepentant demeanor. “America, love it or leave it.”
Attacking the media as “the enemy of the people” also appeals to Trump supporters. The “liberal media” has only pushed tolerance for immigrants, LGBT issues and pro-Muslim sentiments. These progressives seem to be more concerned with helping the poor of other nations and minorities in this country than they are about helping the forgotten whites who historically made America great.
Trump has been a master at portraying his fight as one of good versus evil. He’s the flawed hero who has carried out his campaign promises as no president ever did before him. Trump is someone to be trusted.
Trump supporters admire his decisiveness. Trump admires dictators like Putin, who represents certainty in his actions, not the wishy-washy approach of the left. His supporters are willing to give him a pass on his peccadillos.
Most of his supporters see his flaws, his arrogance, his affairs, and forgive him because he is listening to their concerns. No one else does. Trump, with his tweets, tells it like it is. There is no political correctness in his statements, no liberal media filtering information. It’s direct democracy at its best — directly to them.
Will Trump’s strategy work? Many of the Republicans in Congress aren’t sure, so they’re hedging their bets. If they come out strongly against Trump, they may be voted out of office and losing is the worst thing imaginable for them. Keeping quiet is playing it safe until they see how the wind blows with the voters.
I don’t know what will happen this November. I do know, based upon the 2016 election, that one must never underestimate Donald Trump. He has an innate feel for the mood of his electorate.
The Democrats are angry, but their message is weak – “Not Trump.” The anti-Trump approach didn’t work for Hillary Clinton in November 2016 and it may not work in November 2018. Some Democrats have moved too far to the left for many moderates. It’s likely the Independents will vote for the least bad of the two extremes. It’s possible Trump supporters could come out in force. If they do, President Trump could pull off another election day shocker. If he does, then, and unless the Democrats get their act together, Trump is almost guaranteed a second term in 2020.
Richard Elfers is an adjunct professor at Green River College and a columnist for Reporter newspapers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.