BALTIMORE – As the days dwindle down to America’s mid-term elections, the Democrats drown in their usual puddles of delusion.
They delude themselves each time President Trump reveals himself as a bully – imagining his arrogance will inspire legions of his loyal lemmings to suddenly see the light and vote Democratic.
They think it makes a difference that, in the aftermath of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s grotesque murder, Trump mocks the violence against yet another journalist, Ben Jacobs. What fun! What sport! Jacobs was body-slammed by Greg Gianforte, a congressional cretin who sometimes impersonates a civilized human being.
“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of…he’s my guy,” Trump laughingly told a big, howling Montana crowd last week.
This, as Trump launches a phony narrative about “Democrat mobs” while unleashing Republican mob mentality.
And again the Democrats delude themselves. They think it’ll swing votes whenever this president mocks women. He belittles Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who tearfully swore she was sexually groped. Then he gets into a public spat with the porn star Stormy Daniels, who calls him “tiny” after he calls her “Horse Face.” Did her “horse face” stop him from having a sexual liaison with her?
According to Stormy: Neigh.
And again the Democrats imagine this unseemliness will cause legions of Republican women to vote Democratic.
Now this president goes after migrants walking many miles toward America’s southern border. He calls them dangerous. Many are women and children. Many are fleeing for their lives. Trump threatens to stop them by sending U.S. troops to the border. He threatens to close the entire border – and never mind the human cost, or the effect on $600 billion in U.S. –Mexican annual trade. He cares deepest about the political advantage in picking on the desperate.
The Democrats imagine Trump’s outbursts will energize all who remember stories of their own immigrant forebears.
They delude themselves.
Trump’s supporters know all of his flaws – his bullying, his misogyny, his racist taunts. All of this is just background noise.
What matters is their own insecurity, and how he speaks to it – sometimes in code, sometimes explicitly, usually bombastically so nobody’s confused about his intentions.
These are mostly white people feeling insecure about the nation’s changing demographics. In the not-so-distant future, the country will become majority non-white. But it’s not just skin color that’s threatening – it’s job security.
Trump’s supporters tend to be working-class voters who never went to college. They live in an America where the old notions of job stability have vanished. Who goes to work anymore and stays for a lifetime in one place? Who’s got a strong union anymore to make sure they’ve got security and a decent paycheck? Who’s got a job that guarantees protection from the ever-encroaching new technologies?
For white working class people with minimal education, those who most threaten their fragile jobs are the ones who have always been kept at the low end of the economic scale – minorities, and immigrant newcomers willing to work cheap at almost anything.
Trump knows how to press the right rhetorical buttons, even when he’s not telling the truth. The economy’s been getting better for the past decade and has stayed strong in his two years, and so has the stock market.
But the very working class people who support him have benefitted the least. A week ago, Robert J. Shapiro, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, wrote a piece in the Washington Post headlined “Don’t be fooled: Working Americans are worse off under Trump.”
Analyzing Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Shapiro wrote, “The typical working American’s earnings…have declined under the Trump administration.” The gap between the rich and the rest of us is wider than ever.
And, in a New York Times Magazine piece last month headlined “Why Work Doesn’t Work Anymore,” Matthew Desmond wrote, “The economy has expanded and corporate profits have risen, but real wages have remained flat for workers without a college education…Today, 41.7 million laborers – nearly a third of the American workforce – earn less than $12 an hour, and almost none of their employers offer health insurance.”
The Democrats delude themselves when they run against the obvious flaws of Donald Trump. His followers know his screw-ups, but they still believe he’s looking out for them. Until somebody clears up that baloney, the rest of his bullying, and his obnoxious language, is just background noise.
Michael Olesker, columnist for the News American, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Examiner has spent a quarter of a century writing about the city he loves.He is the author of several books, including Michael Olesker’s Baltimore: If You Live Here, You’re Home, Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore, and The Colts’ Baltimore: A City and Its Love Affair in the 1950s, all published by Johns Hopkins Press.