The first Trump administration has not yet even begun, and already people are planning to get him re-elected. I am not talking about Republican political strategists dreaming of the campaign ads to run starting in mid-2019. I am talking about seemingly the entire liberal political establishment, which is devoting itself wholesale to ensuring that the 2020 election is another victory for Donald Trump.
This is something of a surprise. After the humiliating defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, you would imagine liberals would learn to tell the difference between what works and what doesn’t. The paranoia, the sneering condescension, the celebrity-infused elitism, the relentless “othering” of tens upon tens of millions of Americans: this approach was a failure. Clinton lost the most winnable election in several generations.
So you might think that, in the run-up to the 2018 midterms and ultimately the 2020 presidential election, American progressives would try something different—anything different!
You would be wrong. Embarrassed, angry, and confused, the Left is simply doubling down on the behavior and the rhetoric that drove large numbers of Americans to vote for Trump in the first place. If you’re a liberal and you want to greatly increase Trump’s chances for re-election in 2020, here are four easy steps you can take to make that a reality.
1. Deny the Legitimacy of the Election Results
The election had barely been called when liberals began claiming it had been a rigged affair. Ari Berman implied that “the GOP’s attack on voting rights” was a likely source of Trump’s victory, as did Mark Joseph Stern. Paul Krugman, who seemed to suffer a nervous breakdown after the election, insisted repeatedly that the election was “hacked,” chalking up Trump’s win to “subversion” perpetrated by “a foreign power and a rogue domestic law enforcement agency.”
Robert Reich declared that a “dark cloud of illegitimacy” hangs over Trump’s victory. Former Clinton campaign manager Brian Fallon said that the behavior of Russia and the Federal Bureau of Investigation “call[s] into question the legitimacy of his win.” Rep. John Lewis came right out and said: “I don’t see [Trump] as a legitimate president.”
More broadly, liberals took up the all-too-familiar “not my president” rallying cry after Trump won. Celebrities, commentators, and liberal activists echoed the sentiment, implying that Trump was an illegitimate president and Clinton had actually won.
Here is a tip for all the aggrieved liberals out there who hope to delegitimize the Trump administration: don’t do it. It only weakens your cause. If you say, “We are not happy about the results of this election, and we’re going to fight against Trump, but we accept that he’s our president,” Trump voters might be more willing to listen to you. If instead you spend four years screaming “TRUMP IS A FAKE PRESIDENT HE STOLE THE ELECTION!!!” then you will only radically alienate more and more conservative and independent Americans going forward, setting the stage for another Trump victory.
2. Disparage and Demean Your Fellow Americans
Suffice it to say that many liberals were dismayed and upset by the election results. That’s understandable, particularly given how highly charged the election had been. Yet the liberal response to Trump’s victory went above and beyond simple disappointment: American progressives turned on tens of millions of their fellow Americans and accused them of rank bigotry and hatred.
To take but a small sampling: very early on November 9, before the ink had even dried on Trump’s victory (literally: the papers were still probably rolling off the presses), Slate’s Jamelle Bouie published a vicious indictment of Trump’s voters, claiming that Trump’s white voting base cast their ballots for him “as a white herrenvolk,” an explicit reference to the violent racial ideologies of Nazi Germany. Bouie also drew a direct link between Trump’s victory and the sadistically brutal 1955 murder of black teenager Emmett Till. The implication was clear: white Trump voters are either Nazis or spiritual heirs to racist brutality.
Not to be outdone (maybe they were holding some kind of histrionics contest over there), a few other Slate writers chimed in: L.V. Anderson claimed that “white women sold out the sisterhood and the world by voting for Trump.” As Anderson put it, the “biggest…reason” that white women voted for Trump was “racism:” white women, according to Anderson, “decided they’d rather have the respect of their angry white fathers, brothers, and husbands than the respect of literally everyone else in the world.”
Michelle Goldberg, meanwhile, announced: “Donald Trump’s victory proves that America hates women.” Goldberg claims that, faced with the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency and changing gender norms, “a majority of men would rather burn this country to the ground than let that happen.”
A few months after the election, this vicious denigration of Americans still continues. Last week, in a widely-shared Twitter post, tech executive Melinda Byerley accused “middle America” of being “a shithole with stupid people.” She implored these “stupid people” to “elect a progressive city council and commit to not being bigots.” She also accused them of “[not wanting] brown people to thrive.”
This cannot be overstated: liberals, if you wish to persuade more Americans to vote Democrat (or at the very least not vote for Trump), then smearing them as Nazis, psychopaths, bigots, and misogynists isn’t going to help.
The vast majority of Americans—even the vast majority of Trump voters!—are not any of these things. They may be wrong about Trump, what he stands for, and what he’ll do once he’s in office. But screaming at them, accusing them of terrible prejudice and hatred, and calling their hometowns and states “shitholes” is just going to harden their resolve.
Keep this up, and in 2020 they’ll say, “Golly, who should I vote for: the guy who says he respects me, or the folks who dismiss me and my family and friends as ‘stupid people?’”
3. De-Normalize Trump Voters
Liberals, you don’t have to agree with Trump voters, hang out with them, or like them. But your efforts to bar your Trump-supporting fellow Americans from polite society are only going to backfire on you.
Fresh off the high of accusing Trump-voting Americans of being next-of-kin to lynch mobs, Bouie declared: “There’s no such thing as a good Trump voter.” Many people took this maxim to heart. Dallas resident Henry Rosen announced “Trump voters are not welcome in [his] house this holiday.” Rather than continue a “20+ year tradition” of an after-the-holidays party at his house, Rosen cancelled the party so he would not have to invite anyone who voted for Trump.
Meanwhile, in Honolulu, Hawaii, a café advertised: “If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis.” (The owner backed down after the story went public.) In Skowhegan, Maine, a propane dealer recorded this little missal on his business’s answering machine: “If you voted for Donald Trump for president, I will no longer be delivering your gas. Please find someone else.”
It’s not just unhinged op-ed writers and business owners that have this problem: liberal family members are practically disowning their conservative kin over the election results. One man cancelled Christmas plans with his conservative relatives. Another lady moved her wedding so her fiancé’s Trump-supporting grandmother and aunt could not attend. Another woman told her own brother, a Trump voter, to stop texting her; she also decided to spend Thanksgiving away from her extended family rather than be around them.
This should be obvious, but apparently it’s not: this is a very bad tactic for changing hearts and minds. If you want to get your family members to come around to your point of view and maybe vote for a Democrat in the next election, shunning them for four years is absolutely not going to help.
More to the point, whether or not they voted for the same candidate as you, they’re your family. If you turn your back on your family because of politics, it is only going to further entrench the country’s deep political and cultural divisions. Among other things, that drives up the chances that Trump will secure another victory in 2020.
4. Pile on the Elite Liberal Sanctimony
Of all the ineffective ways to combat a Trump presidency and weaken his chances for re-election, having elite liberal celebrities lecture the country with a hearty dose of sanctimonious moralizing may rank at the top.
You can find no better example of this flawed approach than Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump speech at this year’s Golden Globes. When accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award, Streep decided to speak out against Trump. In just a few minutes she managed to deliver a speech dripping with self-congratulatory liberal condescension and faux-victimhood, claiming that the trifecta of Golden Globe demographics—“Hollywood, foreigners, and the press”—are “the most vilified segments in American society right now.”
That’s right: a nationally and globally revered multimillionaire was explaining to a room full of other nationally and globally revered multimillionaires—some of them worth hundreds of millions of dollars—why they are “vilified” and consequently victims.
Further highlighting this problem: last week on his late-night talk show, Jimmy Kimmell did a comedy bit explaining “how the truth works.” This skit was response to a tweet from Trump imploring people to “make up their minds” about the truth. The bit was actually sort of funny, and its central point—that the truth is the truth, regardless of whether you “make up your mind” about it—was 100 percent correct. Just the same, it came off as absolutely smug and sneering—not something that’s going to change many people’s minds.
A recent cartoon in The New Yorker drives the point home: on an airplane, an angry, yelling man stands up and announces to the passengers: “These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?” Many hands are raised in response.
The cartoon’s punchline is an intellectual mess, but the underlying point is still clear: stupid, angry Americans have stolen the yoke of government from its rightful owners and handed it to an idiot with no business sitting in the executive seat.
To be fair, I remain convinced that Trump is likely unfit for office. I am hoping he proves me wrong, but it doesn’t look like he will. Just the same, if I wanted to make the case against Trump, I wouldn’t do so with a supercilious, stupid cartoon that doesn’t even make a good analogy about the presidential election. Cartoons like this simply offend people and make them more resistant to hearing your point.
In addition to believing he is not fit for the office of the presidency, I have another problem with Trump: he is not a conservative, and thus his presidency will surely further the cause of big government. In some ways, for my purposes, it would have been better if Clinton won the presidency last year. She would have been just as liberal as Trump, if not more, but we could have counted on strong Republican opposition to counteract her liberal agenda. Under Trump, the GOP will likely go along with his domestic policy, which—although his cabinet may be able to prevent this—will likely not be very conservative at all.
I say all of this to offer liberals this assurance: barring a conservative miracle from the Trump administration, I, too, will want Trump out of office in 2020, either to another GOP challenger or to a Democrat against which conservatives will more fully unite. When I ask liberals to stop with their disastrous, self-defeating Trump opposition, I’m asking of them a personal favor. For goodness’s sake, ignore your own awful political impulses and try something different this time.
I will spend the next four years defending conservative values and attempting to convince people to vote against Trump if he betrays those values. One thing I will not do, however, is sneer at or condescend to my fellow Americans who genuinely believe Trump is a good president. I want to change their minds, and I won’t be able to do that if I’m just making fun of them for four years. Neither will you, liberals. But if what you desire is another Trump victory in 2020, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing.
From Jan. 20, 2017