There is always a path to victory; the question is, can it be found and followed? If I had the opportunity, this would be my advice to President Donald Trump regarding his reelection.
First, understand that people are scared, and do something about it. The pandemic, the resulting economic decline, the protests and the increasing violence have combined to create a fearful environment. President Trump can quell this by making sure the American people have accurate and consistent information regarding the pandemic, by working with the American people to get people working again and by maintaining a focus on law and order.
The government needs to do a better job collecting and communicating information related to the pandemic. I never would have guessed that, more than four months into the pandemic, data collection would be this inconsistent, inaccurate and unhelpful in decision-making. Until we have reliable, consistent, comprehensive data on who has the virus, levels of severity, hospitalizations and deaths, we will be paralyzed. This has to be visible in trend lines over time, and it has to be understandable. This should be handled by outside data experts and overseen by someone who has earned the trust of the American people. This should not be a focus for President Trump himself; he has more important work to do.
Second, focus on our individual, personal economies. This fall, as Americans head to the polls, many of them will base their decisions about whom to support on their personal economic health, not on the gross domestic product, which is a measure of the nation's fiscal health.
On Dec. 20, 2007, with a recession looming, then-President George W. Bush encouraged Americans, saying, "This work begins with keeping our economy growing. ... And I encourage you all to go shopping more." While many might have gone out and shopped, the recession came, and the economy dragged.
Today, as we consider how to stimulate our economy when the pandemic subsides, we need to focus on how to work toward making more of what people want to buy, not simply go out and purchase for purchasing's sake.
This is an area where Trump excels. He understands that unleashing the creativity and ingenuity of the American people will lead to increased innovation and economic activity. Trump's infrastructure initiative, announced last week in Atlanta, cuts time to implementation and is a perfect example of how the government can help companies move faster to create what we need.
It is in this area that the president should spend the majority of his time. He should continue to cheerlead those who are creating jobs and focus on the theme that America works best when Americans are working.
Third, encourage peaceful protesters to continue to make their voices heard; recognize that peaceful protesting is part of America -- even if people disagree about the subjects being protested. But let's be clear: Rioters are not protesters. There needs to be very clear communication regarding the difference. This should be repeated daily. In addition, the administration should highlight the criminal and violent events as they occur, and reject the calls for violence.
In a July 13 article titled "Catholic churches burned, vandalized over weekend as police investigate: 'Where's the outrage?'" by Caleb Parke for Fox News, Parke wrote, "Activist Shaun King called for all images depicting Jesus as a 'White European' and his mother to be torn down because they're forms of 'White supremacy' and 'racist propaganda.'" Parke went on to report on churches in Florida and California that had been set afire and cite the burning of a statue of the Virgin Mary outside a church in Boston. Such incitement of violence needs to be called out and stopped.
Fourth, Trump should continue supporting the police while advocating for better and longer training. A Rasmussen Reports poll released Tuesday (1,000 adults, July 19-20, at 95-percent confidence level, +/- 3 points) found that "66 percent of American Adults now oppose reducing the police budget in the community where they live to channel that money into more social services." This is 7 points higher than in early June. When asked about defunding the police, "just 23 percent" were in favor. A majority of both black Americans (57 percent) and white Americans (69 percent) are opposed to defunding the police.
We must have accurate and consistent information regarding the pandemic, work together to get people working again, and maintain a focus on law and order.