Trump’s opponents should note that the past couple of weeks of intense debate over the president’s “fitness” for office, concluding in a new round of “Trump is a bigot” takes, have corresponded with his approval ratings getting steadily better.This is what I think. In 2016 Trump's opponents spent too much time sputtering about how impossible he is and not enough pounding him on the issues. Hillary tried, but too many voters tuned her out. The Democrats need a candidate who is woke enough on race and immigration issues to get the nomination but will focus much more on the economy and health care.
He bottomed out in mid-December at the height of the debate over the Republican tax bill, and has edged up by 4 or 5 points since then.
And it actually makes perfect sense. Being a racist (or totally uninformed about policy issues) may be in some sense a graver sin than favoring tax policy tilted in favor of the very rich. But in political terms, most Americans are white but few Americans are very rich, so a focus on the idea that Trump is excessively cruel to nonwhites moves fewer votes than the idea that Trump is excessively focused on the whims of plutocrats. . . .
To students of nativist demagogues abroad, like Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, this is no surprise. In the wake of Trump’s win, the Italian-born economist Luigi Zingales reflected on the lessons of the two Italian politicians who’d managed to beat Berlusconi, observing, “Both of them treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focused on the issues, not on his character.”
Trump’s opponents would be wise to do the same — Trump’s brand of white identity politics has real consequences, but the overall Trump Show is basically a con that masks an agenda that’s bad for almost everyone.
Friday, January 19, 2018
To Beat Trump, Focus on the Issues