There are a lot of people in this country who would crawl naked over broken glass to vote for President Donald Trump again, and there are likely just as many who’d do the same to vote against whichever Democrat ends up behind the wheel of that clown car primary. Of course, there is a slice of the electoral pie for whom the exact opposite can be said. The question the president has to concern himself with is whether or not there are enough of the remaining slices of the population who’ll pull the lever for him just over a year from now. That’s the argument he has to make.
There’s a belief that the economy will be enough to push the president over the line, and traditionally that would be true. But Donald Trump is anything but a traditional president.
The thing about the economy is people, once it’s been good for awhile, start to take it for granted. It’s like the tax cuts – where people saw a noticeable increase in their take-home pay, then voted out a bunch of the very people who cut taxes to put it there. Elections aren’t about rewarding what someone has done, they’re about getting behind what someone wants to do.
President Trump needs to spend a little more time making the case for what he’d do in a second term, not just how bad a first term of whatever Democrat wins the nomination would be.
The strength of the economy does weird things to voters. When they don’t have to worry about finding a job, when things are good, the minds of the public can wander to crazy ideas.
The thing about liberty is it’s always under threat from unscrupulous people. When people are struggling, they’re more likely to follow someone telling them they have the answers, that a government plan will solve or address whatever it is they’re up against. But when things are good, minds are open to the same seductions, just for different reasons.
With the unemployment rate at an incredible 3.5 percent, and more people working now than ever before, Democrats can effectively appeal to people’s better nature with one of their favorite tactics: making emotional appeals.
To sell their horrible programs, Democrats always try to make an emotional argument. Their proposals don’t stand up to logical thought, but emotion overrides logic. That’s part of why they’ve turned their “crazy” up to 11, keeping their base in a “TRUMP IS A RUSSIAN PUPPET” or “TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS” frenzy. As 2018 showed, it works.
The emotional appeal in good economic times is about those who are still struggling. “If things are going well, why not do something for those who aren’t keeping up?” the argument goes. That is usually coupled with a threat, subtle but important, that, “Things could go south for you, and you could need this help in the future too.”
They seem absurd when you think about them rationally, but they aren’t rational arguments, they are emotional ones. And while they won’t work on most people, to win a presidential election you don’t have to appeal to most people.
So as crazy as student loan debt forgiveness or “free” health care are to rational people, those pitches aren’t being made to rational people. And they vote too.
To counter this, President Trump needs to make an affirmative case for a second term beyond Democrats are awful. Because Democrats are awful, and have been awful for a long time, yet voters have elected them; voters gave them the House of Representatives just last year.
The media will be working to defeat the president, Democrats will be working to defeat the president. The fight for the undecided voters will be a struggle to convince people to ignore their emotions and embrace their logic, but some voters don’t have that ability. Luckily, that’s where Donald Trump excels.
No Republican is better at stirring up emotional support in his base while advancing conservative accomplishments. But the president needs to expand that base. Red meat is great, and the base will always eat it up, the trick will be to dangle enough chicken or fish into the middle to get other voters to run to his side. It’s a very narrow tightrope to walk.