OP-ED: Democrats shouldn’t count their chickens yet
The worst mistake Democrats could make now is overconfidence.
Four years ago, polls showed Hillary Clinton comfortably ahead. She didn’t even campaign in Wisconsin or Michigan. Certainly, her supporters thought, Pennsylvania’s Blacks and women overwhelmingly would support the first female standard-bearer for a major party. But she lost all three states; the polls were not picking up what was happening in America.
This year is different. Donald Trump woefully and arrogantly has mismanaged the coronavirus pandemic, let the economy collapse and shown that he has no empathy for the concerns of Blacks, women, immigrants, the poor or children. His biggest accomplishment is a $2 trillion tax cut for himself and his wealthy friends. He scoffs at the rule of law. He destroyed U.S. global leadership. He was impeached but not convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Also, a mighty wave of revulsion against 400 years of racial intolerance and cruelty is sweeping the nation.
Democratic elation is swelling for Joe Biden’s historic pick of a brilliant California senator and former attorney general, Kamala Harris, a Black woman with Asian heritage, as his running mate.
But Trump, a failed president without scruples, desperately is trying to hold on to power. Authoritarians who have the full power of government to suppress opposition almost always succeed in being reelected.
The small percentage of swing voters who will be crucial in the Nov. 3 election will be called on to sort through mountains of conflicting ideas, lies, charges, bribes and promises.
Above all, U.S. intelligence agencies agree Russia is pulling out all the stops to reelect Trump and disparage Biden. There is absolutely no doubt Russia interfered in 2016 to elect Trump and paid no price. Trump has never denounced Russian illegalities.
Trump’s camp is trying to paint the moderate Biden-Harris team as far left, even socialistic. That is not true, but many Americans will believe it.
Trump, one of the most inarticulate presidents in history, is using Biden’s past gaffes to portray him as stupid and halfway to senility. Neither is true, but many Americans are programmed to believe such demagoguery.
Trump is wrongly using the attorney general to investigate Biden’s son on charges long ago proven to be false, despite Trump’s own nepotism in putting his daughter and unqualified son-in-law in positions of huge power in the White House.
With 75% of Americans hoping to vote by mail during a highly contagious pandemic, Trump is working to eviscerate the U.S. Postal Service by firing top managers and changing rules to slow delivery down so many ballots don’t get delivered, returned or properly postmarked.
Republicans, abetted by the Justice Department, have spent years passing voter suppression laws to keep Blacks from voting in the numbers they have in the past.
Big business has benefitted enormously from the Trump administration’s focus on tax cuts and erasing regulations meant to level the playing field and protect workers and the environment. He can count on their donations and support.
Trump will try to revive the “law and order” image that Richard Nixon cultivated as protesters push the defund police movement, which, incidentally, Biden and Harris do not support.
Trump is a proven racist who constantly dog-whistles to white supremacists and those fearful of losing privileged white-majority status. We know millions of Americans this summer have been appalled by the extent of systematic racism in this society; we don’t know how deep the strain of racism runs.
The White House purposefully has blocked a second round of economic support for the millions of Americans whose lives have been uprooted by the virus and joblessness. Trump hoped to push through executive actions to bring relief for which he could take credit. But he failed because his effort was unconstitutional and the White House is full of incompetent staffers who have their jobs only because of personal loyalty to Trump.
Finally, millions of Americans, worried, literally, about the survival of their children and themselves, do not pay attention to Trump’s daily assaults on civility, truth and the American Way. They will not recognize Biden’s insistence that this election is about the soul of America and the need for a large mandate to oust Trump. They shrug their shoulders at Trump’s malfeasance. They will not vote.
The cliche is true. Our future depends on voter turnout, on passion, on whether one man’s self-interest wins out over the interests of 328 million.