Friday, December 29, 2017

Trump could be re-elected.

It's the economy, stupid.

There is a school of thought that Donald Trump is voicing the right policies and that Trump-ism is more popular than the unpopular Trump.

Immigration policy.  One presumption is that, in fact, a great many Americans are worried about too many immigrants, too fast, and that they are changing traditional America.  Trump led on that issue and he demolished his GOP rivals, then beat Hillary.  

Click here. Politico article saying what this blog has been warning.
Job policy.  Another presumption is that Trump spoke aggressively to American jobs, via trade protection and offshoring, and that Americans of both parties were ready to change from the bi-partisan policy of free trade.

Foreign policy.  A third presumption was that Trump voiced a strong and selfish America First policy, and a great many voters thought the Obama language of cooperation and harmony came across as weak, and they wanted Trump-style change.

I say no.  That's not it.  It isn't policy.  It is salesmanship.

Donald Trump is a skilled brand manager and he is--right now--at work creating an extension to the Trump brand.  

Trump is evolving from "Mr. Shake Things Up on Policy" to "Mr. Prosperity."  And it is working for him.  Democrats are letting him get away with it.

Trump says, prior to me it's carnage.  Now the economy is booming. By the time of the mid-term elections GOP candidates will have a story in place that makes all the mis-steps and frustrations and midnight tweets of Donald Trump and the GOP legislative fecklessness irrelevant.  

Their story will be:  "Well, Trump may be a little undisciplined, but he sure knows how to supercharge the American economy.  The tax bill was part of that."

That is it.  That is enough.  

Trump's presumed collusion, his golfing, his narcissism, his tweets, his intemperance, his White House chaos, his emollients, his family, his crassness, his hairstyle, his dishonesty, his fawning love of Fox--all the things that get Democrats riled up--become irrelevant.  GOP people can concede them, if they want.  The more time Democrats focus on them the more time they utterly waste.

Trump's quirks?  Who cares. He's Mr. Prosperity.  It's the economy, stupid.

Democrats have a choice: either they say he improved it for stockholders and the very rich (which he did) but not for the average middle income person, or they argue that the improvement was underway under Obama and all Trump did was ride on Obama's coat-tails.  It is probably too late for the second option.  Neither Obama nor other Democrats made the claim of recovery clearly and strongly when they had a chance.  

Therefore, Democrats are left with the path of saying the recovery is un-even, that the stock market reflects the rich and the comfortable getting richer, not the poor and middle class getting ahead.  It puts Democrats in the position of being nay-sayers. It puts them in the class-war position, the poor against the rich. And it forces Democrats to say that business is not all that good, even though, in fact, it was getting better under Obama and is improving still.   It is less than ideal.

The bad news for Democrats is that in fact Trump salesmanship changed investor and public sentiment.  Consumer confidence is up.  He is in the enviable place of being a cheerleader for the home team. That is the Trump brand: saying his hotels are the best, his steaks are the best, his country is the best, his economy is the best, and his presidency is the best.

Democrats need to get on this, with a narrative of rich man's bliss and middle class neglect, and then they need to sell it as well and vigorously as Trump sells his narrative.  Or else quietly pray for a recession.


Rick Millward said...

I think the attention paid to Trump is a distraction.

The larger question pertains to the dark underbelly of American society that allowed him to be elected, and with him the ascendance of a corporate criminal class to in government. The changes they are making, which are designed to protect monopolies and the flow of money into connected special interests will set back progress for another generation. Progressives (and Democrats) underestimated the pushback from Regressives.

One way to look at this is that an ambitious Republican will try to usurp his base and push him aside in 2020. There are Roy Moores in every state. I find it hard to accept Republicans will allow another term, although he certainly is serving as a useful frontman for the worst elements of our society whom they represent. But it wouldn't surprise me if they don't turn on him when the opportunity arises.

While the stock market is up other indicators are trending under the growth curve. However consumer debt is at an all time high and real estate, where most middle class wealth is held, is perched on a cliff. Interest rates are sneaking up. Environmental damage and health care increases will drain cash from states abandoned by the federal government. I'd say it's an even bet we'll see a correction soon as speculators cash in. Then what?

Safe to say they will blame it on Obama.

Thad Guyer said...

“Is America Psychologically Able to Handle Trump Being Gone?”

As Peter said for months before the election, Trump was going to win because he understood a psychological truth about voting behavior. Hillary pushed policies about inclusion for a myriad of identity groups. Trump pushed resentment about exclusion of “real Americans”. Hillary lost particularly in states Democrats were sure she would win. The great blue firewall was an illusion and Trump saw it. Despite this losing strategy of identity politics, Democrats have actually pushed it into America’s face with even more force. If you want a more in-your-face understanding of America’s relationship to Donald Trump, watch this clip of Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men” explaining why we embrace even “grotesque” strongmen because we don’t want to “handle the truth” of voter behavior. (

Democrats appear unable to cope with the electoral truth about Trump. Since this article in 2016, Stockholm Syndrome has remained a popular media meme for good reason. See “Stockholm-Trump Syndrome Is Exploding Across America”, Huffington Post (Nov 04, 2016 Trump is the first president in my lifetime for which our president is a daily obsession, not just in the USA but across the globe. All of us are addicted to him, every tweet echoes in the media. Even to his most ardent detractors, Trump has become the value equilibrium in how we articulate our values if not our entire political selves. Can America psychologically simply cut off that life and return to normalcy in our body politic, to boring ho-hum politicians? If Trump is reality television, the most popular show of all time, will voters just turn it off after one season? What would replace his tweets and our media obsession?

The 2018 mid-term elections are largely irrelevant to the 2020 presidential election. Democrats got slaughtered in the 2010 midterms, lost the House and barely held on to the Senate. Republicans proclaimed it was a sure sign Obama would be ousted after one term. They were wrong just as Democrats are wrong now about current data. Obama had only one big legislative win during his entire presidency, the Affordable Care Act in 2010. After that he was legislatively finished, yet he went on to win a second term.

As of today, I not only don’t see any reason to forecast Trump won’t get a second term, I see every reason why he will be re-elected unless the Democrats can get into a bipartisan relationship with him on immigration and infrastructure. But I don’t see bipartisanship emerging. As the Washington Post Editorial Board wrote today, liberal anger and social media "road rage" are soaring. See, “Vanity Fair staffers Behind the Clinton Video Shouldn’t be Fired”, Wash Post, Dec 29, 2017 ( Despite all Trump and the GOP have done to provoke that political road rage, Trump and Obama finished their first year in office with the same approval ratings. See, “Trump Celebrates Tying Obama’s Approval Rating”, Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2017 (

The reality is that there would be emotional consequences of not re-electing Trump. It takes years of therapy to ameliorate the trauma of a forced end to a complex and dysfunctional special relationship, be it with a captor or family abuser or a president. Stockholm Syndrome is real. The GOP in Congress, the Trump base, independents and even moderate Democrats will have a hard time overcoming the syndrome. So far, I see no indication that a majority of the electoral college is going to walk away from Trump in 2020.