National Post (Latest Edition)
The no BS candidate
Not all the TrumpPence campaign signs dotting the landscape carry familiar slogans like Make America Great Again, Keep America Great or Promises Kept. An increasing number cut right to the chase, declaring, in the kind of off- colour language often employed by the president himself: Trump 2020: No more bull----.
The exact nature of the BS in question no doubt differs in the mind of each voter. It might boil down to annoyance over political correctness run amok, or disrespect shown to “flag and country” by athletes and others kneeling during the national anthem, or protests in cities that often morphed into violence and destruction, or freedom- crushing restrictions masquerading as coronavirus mandates or, most recently, the notion that President Donald Trump should ignore his duty to nominate a justice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.
For others, “BS” might simply reflect the inordinate amount of attention devoted to feelings and emotions, as opposed to tangible actions and accomplishments. That Democratic nominee Joe Biden is a more empathetic character than Trump is a stipulated fact, apparently important to many pundits and reporters but irrelevant to the average Trump supporter.
Trump voters long ago tuned out conventional wisdom from mainstream media voices. From the start, the daily drumbeat of negativity about this president quickly reached, to them, comical proportions. They are not surprised that, as the home stretch of the 2020 election arrives, there is a full- blown avalanche of anti-trump books and revelations bolstered by wallto-wall media coverage, perfectly timed for maximum Trump-bashing effect.
Trump famously said he could shoot someone and not lose support, which was not true when he said it, but might be now. If it transpired tomorrow, the reporting on it would blend into the woodwork of every Trump story over the past four years that was recklessly overhyped, of which there were far too many. If those journalists who have let Trump get under their skin were honest, they would admit democracy has been ill- served as a result of their own blindness toward their duty to be fair and detached, even in covering those they despise and who despise them.
Still, despite preposterously negative press coverage and subsequent bad poll numbers, it’s interesting to hear, in casual conversation, the degree to which Trump’s supporters share a serene assurance that their man will be re-elected. “I don’t believe the polls,” one longtime GOP activist told me recently. “It’s going to be just like four years ago.”
Trump voters have no doubt that they are again being underappreciated in the media and under- represented in surveys. But another reason is their confidence that every last Trump supporter in America will vote, come hell, high water or COVID-19.
Among the easiest jobs in the political world must be serving as get- out- thevote ( GOTV) director for the Trump campaign. In most cases, GOTV directors — be they Republican or Democrat — spend fitful days and nights devising sophisticated ways to drive every last sympathetic voter to the polls. Trump voters need no artificial stimulation.
Take the recent “rolling rallies,” impressive collections of Trump voters taking to the nation’s highways to fly their flags for the president. The events are publicized mostly on social media and by word of mouth. This month, more than 6,000 people signed up to participate in a motorcade celebrating Trump that circled Cincinnati’s I-275 beltway for as far as the eye could see. Rally participant Judie Howard explained her dedication in terms of what she owed Trump. “He was chosen by God for us,” she said, adding that riding in the rally is “the least we can do.” Similar rallies have been held across the nation. It’s hard to imagine Biden inspiring comparable levels of grassroots enthusiasm.
But while passion is important — and Trump’s supporters are arguably more zealous than those of any candidate in modern history — it doesn’t guarantee that when the votes are tabulated, the president’s legions won’t be outnumbered by a combination of Democrats, never-trump Republicans and independents who desperately want anyone but Trump in the Oval Office. While Biden doesn’t personally generate much passion, he will benefit from Trump haters everywhere, who collectively are a fervent lot.
For Trump vot er s , though, a Biden victory is inconceivable. Trump is the only plain talker preventing political correctness from overwhelming their lives; the bulwark against old- fashioned, flag- saluting patriotism vanishing into history; the firewall against Big Brother imposing overly restrictive mandates on healthy Americans in the name of safety and security.
In short, Trump is the only thing standing between them and a bleak future of entrenched, irreversible, institutional BS. It’s all the motivation they need.