The midterms, the left and the Trump ef­fect

Lib­er­als de­nounce ‘fear tac­tics’ while in­ces­santly preach­ing fear of the pres­i­dent

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Mon­ica Crow­ley

As he’s ad­dressed mas­sive cam­paign ral­lies, Pres­i­dent Trump gives the crowds a sin­gu­larly im­por­tant march­ing order: “Pre­tend I’m on the bal­lot.” His ad­vice is wise. As we head into the fi­nal stretch of the 2018 midterm elec­tions, poll­sters and strate­gists are de­bat­ing which party has the in­ten­sity edge, but one thing is crys­tal clear: There is no en­thu­si­asm gap when it comes to Mr. Trump.

Over the past few months, Mr. Trump has done what he does best, and ap­pears to en­joy the most: Cam­paign. Not for him­self this time, but for Repub­li­can Se­nate and House can­di­dates in tight races in an at­tempt to pre­serve the party’s ma­jori­ties. He draws crowds of­ten in the tens of thou­sands, as big if not big­ger than the ones he drew in 2016, and far big­ger than the can­di­dates could at­tract on their own. A re­cent rally in Hous­ton to sup­port Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-elec­tion at­tracted so many peo­ple that or­ga­niz­ers had to move the event to a much big­ger arena.

The events have given Mr. Trump a mega-plat­form to tout his grow­ing record of ac­com­plish­ments: A thriv­ing econ­omy, tax cuts, dereg­u­la­tion, his­tor­i­cally low un­em­ploy­ment (par­tic­u­larly among blacks, Lati­nos and women), wage growth, con­fir­ma­tion of two U.S. Supreme Court jus­tices and more than 80 fed­eral judges, exit from the Iran nu­clear deal, ini­tial work on the border wall, the U.S. em­bassy move to Jerusalem, the re­turn of Amer­i­can hostages from North Korea, the suc­cess­ful rene­go­ti­a­tion of NAFTA with the rene­go­ti­a­tion of other trade re­la­tion­ships underway. The can­di­dates who stand by his side hope that vot­ers will as­so­ciate Mr. Trump’s pol­icy suc­cess with their abil­ity, if elected, to help keep it go­ing.

Mr. Trump also glee­fully crit­i­cizes Democrats, flip­ping the Alin­sky script as he mocks their rad­i­cal­ism, fail­ures and hypocrisy. He gives the news me­dia the same treat­ment, some­thing they are not used to and can­not abide. He is so ef­fec­tive at high­light­ing their bias, dou­ble stan­dards and out­right dis­hon­esty that they im­me­di­ately de­fault to blam­ing him for the ac­tions of ev­ery vi­o­lent lu­natic and ill be­falling the na­tion.

Fol­low­ing the ar­rests of the ma­niac who sent threat­en­ing pack­ages to prom­i­nent Trump crit­ics and the anti-Semitic mon­ster who gunned down 11 in­no­cent souls at a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue, the left im­me­di­ately at­trib­uted the “vi­o­lent hate” to Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. That’s a stag­ger­ing ju­jitsu of pro­jec­tion, given the in­ces­sant hate that’s long poured out of left­ist precincts.

Pro­jec­tion is, in fact, the left’s main tool of dis­trac­tion. They de­nounce “fear tac­tics” while in­ces­santly preach­ing fear of Mr. Trump and ev­ery­thing re­lated to his party. They de­cry “big­otry” while of­ten demon­strat­ing the most in­tol­er­ant big­otry of their own, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to any­one with an op­pos­ing view. When in power, they pay lip ser­vice to “com­ing to­gether” and “find­ing com­mon ground” while crush­ing their op­po­si­tion; when out of power, they feel fully jus­ti­fied in de­fer­ring ci­vil­ity un­til they’re back in con­trol.

Mean­while, Mr. Trump’s power largely comes from giv­ing voice to the silent ma­jor­ity, ex­press­ing its le­git­i­mate con­cerns, frus­tra­tions and wishes. The left, how­ever, has mo­nop­o­lized the mi­cro­phone for so long that hear­ing other views el­e­vated and re­spected by the pres­i­dent shocks and in­fu­ri­ates them.

To the left, this reads as “di­vi­sion,” when in fact it’s sim­ply a more eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of ex­pres­sion and views. The di­vi­sion has been there all along, sim­ply hid­den un­der the jack­boot of left­ist me­dia con­trol, and the silent ma­jor­ity has long been blocked from re­spond­ing in kind. No longer, now that Mr. Trump is cham­pi­oning them and blast­ing the left’s tyranny of thought.

This is Mr. Trump’s first midterm cy­cle, how­ever, and some Repub­li­cans still aren’t sure how to nav­i­gate him. The smart Repub­li­can can­di­dates have em­braced him, buoyed by his ro­bust job ap­proval rat­ing and broad pub­lic sup­port of the stronger econ­omy and in­ter­na­tional po­si­tion he’s de­liv­er­ing.

His­tory sug­gests that midterm elec­tion night may not be a great night for Repub­li­cans. But pol­i­tics hasn’t ad­hered to nor­mal trends in quite a while. There is a sig­nif­i­cant shift tak­ing place, ac­cel­er­ated by Mr. Trump who has up­ended most ex­pec­ta­tions and shat­tered tra­di­tional pre­cepts of lead­er­ship.

Ad­di­tion­ally, un­fore­seen events could fur­ther scram­ble the elec­tion cal­cu­lus, in­clud­ing the im­mi­nent ar­rival of thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans at the south­ern border, the de­ploy­ment of troops to sup­port the Border Pa­trol, more ter­ror­ist threats or vi­o­lence, an eco­nomic shock or some other un­known.

But we do know that we’re still in the midst of a ma­jor pop­ulist re­align­ment, the ef­fects of which con­tinue to ric­o­chet. We will find out on Nov. 6 ex­actly which old assumptions still ap­ply, which new ones need anal­y­sis and how Mr. Trump con­tin­ues to shape the na­tional land­scape. “Pre­tend I’m on the bal­lot,” he says, be­cause in so many ways, he is.

As he gives voice to the silent ma­jor­ity, let’s hope the silent ma­jor­ity re­turns the fa­vor with its votes.

Mr. Trump also glee­fully crit­i­cizes Democrats, flip­ping the Alin­sky script as he mocks their rad­i­cal­ism, fail­ures and hypocrisy. Mr. Trump’s power largely comes from giv­ing voice to the silent ma­jor­ity, ex­press­ing its le­git­i­mate con­cerns, frus­tra­tions and wishes.

Mon­ica Crow­ley is a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times.


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