by Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Everyone knows that Trump will turn the 2020 presidential campaign into the dirtiest, vilest, non-stop attack leaden campaign in U.S. history. Everyone knows that because Trump virtually told us. He has called Biden and Harris every name in the book and hurled every insult he could think of at both. When the dust settles after the close of the Republican National Convention, Trump will kick his dirty campaign into higher gear.
However, there’s much more to the Trump victory game plan then his standard schoolyard name calling and finger pointing. He tipped the first one with his talk to the GOP-aligned Council for National Policy when he snatched a page from the 1968 presidential campaign playbook of Richard Nixon. He railed that he will be the arch defender of America’s beleaguered, disrespected, and under siege police. He will rip the demands to defund and, even more terrifying to some, abolish the police. He’ll conjure up the image of a Black Lives Matter as a nihilistic, anti-White, anti-police, lawless group. He’ll make the law and order sell to nervous, fearful voters in the swing states, and right leaning independents. They are the ones Trump again banks on to tip the scales in the crucial swing states in his direction.
He’ll make more wild claims that he single-handedly turned the American economy around, created more jobs than ever in history, and that he will do even more to ensure the good times keep rolling for Americans with four more years. This is a warmed-over version of the old supply side economic policies that mirrors Reagan’s 1980s campaign pitches. This gives him the hook he needs to boast that Americans will reap rewards with his economic policies.
Then he’ll paint the standard conservative smear of Biden and the Democrats as tax and spend, liberal big government proponents. He banks that this will still strike a chord with millions of voters. He’ll have the perfect foil in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic controlled House’s seeming gargantuan COVID stimulus recovery spending plans. This openly and subtly stokes a large segment of middle- and working-class workers’ disdain for liberal solutions to problems.
He’ll stand his fumbling, bumbling, colossal inept handling of the COVID pandemic on its head and make the case that he did everything right and even saved lives and prevented the economy from totally falling to pieces. He gave a preview of that lie with his praise of the first responders and health care workers in his speech to the Council for National Policy. The boast was that he was the one who set the wheels in motion to damp down the crisis. He’ll repeat his bogus claim that he was the one who cut through the fog of Congress and took executive action to stop evictions, boost unemployment payouts, and help bail the states out.
In 2016 nearly everyone wrote Trump off as a sure loser to Hillary Clinton. Some are inching close to doing that again versus Biden. This is a mistake. There is always a path for a Trump White House win no matter how bad things appear on the surface for him. There’s his base. Much is still made that there aren’t enough less educated, blue-collar, and rural Whites in the electorate to push Trump over the top. But elections are almost always won by candidates with a solid and impassioned core of bloc voters. In Trump’s case, White males, older voters, middle-income, college educated voters vote consistently and faithfully. They vote in a far greater percentage than Hispanics and Blacks, and especially young voters. Trump also got a lot of votes from middle-class Whites, both male and female, college educated, business, and professionals. They had one thing in common and that one thing wasn’t borderline bigotry, loathing of Clinton, or dislike and rejection of a Democrat. They still wanted what powered Obama’s 2008 win–change.
Clinton simply was not that change to them. Biden may not be either to many. To them, he is the consummate beltway established, corporate influenced, deal making politician. The Biden name is the embodiment of that image and dislike. Trump sold himself as the counter to that as well as to the GOP establishment. He was the anti-politician, politician. This time around he can have his cake and eat it too. He’ll still play the role of the enraged citizen politician that well blast away at all the polite conventions of politics. But he’ll also have the GOP establishment with their mountains of cash and millions of rock-solid GOP voters firmly behind him.
In between, he’ll play his stock racial, anti-immigrant, and bash Hispanics race card. He’ll have the usual never-ending barrage of free media time that he gets with every one of his silly, dumb, idiotic, and insulting tweets and utterances that dominate the 24-hour cable news cycle. This guarantees that his name will be splattered before the public no matter how hard he’s attacked.
The Trump-Biden slugfest will be brutal and ugly just as Trump wants it to be. This is what makes his plan to win so scary.
(Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.)