On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump officially announced his intent to seek reelection to the highest office in the United States. Twenty-thousand Americans turned out to see him speak in Orlando, with tens of thousands more unable to secure tickets. Millions more watched the president on television or streamed the announcement online. The president’s pursuit of a second term is not a redo — but the Left’s response to it might as well be.
First, there are the poll numbers and the chances. In any number of polls, Joe Biden and other Democrats are currently shown to be ahead of the president by any number of points for a 2020 matchup in any number of states.
Polls aren’t always right. In 2016, Hillary Clinton was given anywhere north of a 70-percent chance of winning the presidency. Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and other states were assumed to be hers. None of those predictions held true. Trump won the presidency and carried Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, among others.
Blame was abundant from many on the Left for the twist in the story. Russia was blamed. Conservatism was blamed. The electoral college was blamed. Big business was blamed. A lack of education was blamed. Racism, sexism, hatred, and intolerance were all blamed. Working class Americans were blamed. Middle class Americans were blamed. Rich Americans were blamed.
Americans are still being blamed. Trump is being referred to as a “cult” figure to whom his supporters have “sold their souls,” as if Trump supporters being derided as “deplorables” and “irredeemables” was not already injurious enough to the Democrats.
In swing states where several thousand voters can make a difference, writing off 20,000 Americans who attend a Trump rally is not only self-defeating, but speaks loudly about the genuine scorn some on the Left hold for their fellow Americans.
Likewise, too many liberals cannot seem to believe that a decision to support Trump has nothing to do with the mindless obedience of a cult, but objective consideration caused by real concerns and dissatisfaction that is rooted in firsthand experience.
Trump, as happens from time to time in American politics (think Andrew Jackson and the democratization movement, Calvin Coolidge’s cleaning KKK members out of the federal government and its apparatus, or Ronald Reagan’s moral absolutism), has altered the political landscape.
It is no secret that Americans are unhappy with both major political parties. Trump, a Republican, has shown a willingness to take on fellow Republicans when needed, let alone the Left and America’s international opponents. He has proven he is not a mere partisan.
And while there are still areas needing improvement, such as American agriculture and the threat of North Korea, Trump has compiled a solid record of accomplishments ranging from record low unemployment to a military rejuvenation to tougher action on illegal immigration.
Liberal narratives, though continuing, have lost their effect. Accusations of Russian collusion were dismantled by the Mueller report. Charges of Trump becoming a dictator were undone by Trump’s constitutional return of decision-making authority to Congress, such as with the Dream Act. Constant calls for impeachment are undermined by the knowledge that it doesn’t so much matter to some liberals why the president is impeached, just so long as he is impeached.
Collected with the extreme positions many on the Left have taken, such as with abortion or arguing that detainment centers are “concentration camps,” and even with the effect of liberal policies (who would have ever thought medieval diseases would resurface in California?), liberals might think themselves out of step with Americans. But that is not the case.
In the 1980s, the Reagan Revolution shifted the American center further to the Right; and to this day, the things Reagan demonstrated — such as the importance of lower taxes — have become centrist American common sense. This is where most Americans now gravitate. So when the Left advocates the Green New Deal, for example, most Americans understandably reject the proposal.
Out-of-touch policies aside, how, those same liberals wonder, can Americans support someone as imperfect as Trump? True, Trump does not hold back in his commentary, has his flaws, and has made many mistakes in his life. But no American is without sin of some kind; and the Judeo-Christian heritage of Americans encourages them to want to forgive and be forgiven, and to have the chance at redemption. Record and accomplishments notwithstanding, when they see their president make an impromptu appearance at church, it resonates.
But maybe the explanation is even simpler than that. And it won’t be the one the Left takes into consideration as they revisit 2020 with the specter of 2016 looming behind them.
In Victor Davis Hanson’s book “The Case for Trump,” one of the questions Hanson explores is how a New Yorker in a $10,000 suit could possibly connect with a working-class Midwesterner barely getting by.
It’s because Trump doesn’t pretend to be something he is not.
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And Americans see that with 20/20 vision.