Voter In The Middle

The efforts to argue “in fairness” to Trump fall, as they should, on deaf ears. His “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” would have been the end of any other presidency in memory, but Trump’s strategy, assuming it was more than accidental, was to make himself so repugnant that nothing would be stark and awful enough to take him down.

His supporters’ efforts, taken from the same playbook as used by both tribes, to parse the words, argue over whether it’s discrimination by race or national origin, get as deep into the weeds so as to not see the swamp, convinces no one disinclined to be convinced. It was outrageously offensive and flagrantly unAmerican no matter what you want to call it.

On the other hand, it’s not as if Ilhan Omar or the rest of the Mod Squad is acceptable either. Had Trump’s #resistance been even remotely tactical and saved its bullets for the moment when there was no dispute across the middle of America that his repugnancy was too much for anyone to stand, this might be the topic of discussion at the moment.

We knew it would come, as what else could a vulgar, amoral ignoramus do but be himself? But they squandered all their ammo shooting wildly, constantly, passionately, and so one more scream of racism sounded like all the others and will have no greater impact than the Mueller Report, the last absolutely certain thing that would bring Trump down. Remember the Mueller Report?

Trump went on to pander to his base, courting (and laughably denying) the “send them back” chant. Jamelle Bouie questions why the media obsesses over Trump’s base and ignores that they are, “in fact, the minority.”

The anti-Trump vote is the single largest coalition in American politics. That was true in 2016, despite Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the Electoral College. It was true in 2017, after Democrats won major victories in Virginia and Alabama. And it was true in 2018, when the anti-Trump coalition gave Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives.

Despite their influence, however, anti-Trump voters are practically invisible in recent mainstream political coverage. Instead, the focus is the president’s most fervent supporters, as it has been since 2015, when Trump came down his escalator and announced his campaign for the White House. This past week is a prime example.

Whether that’s correct is highly doubtful, but he’s certainly right that Trump voters are a minority. So too are progressive voters. Here’s the trick being played, that the alternative to Trump voters is anti-Trump voters. But these are also the anti-progressive voters. They may poll against Trump, but they don’t poll for the great reinvention of America into a quasi-socialist state for the benefit of the marginalized. This isn’t an invitation to argue whether they should be; they’re not and screaming at them about how horrible Trump is won’t work. They already know how horrible Trump is. They just don’t want you either.

So there is the Trump base on one side, the progressive base on the other side, and neither is sufficient to prevail. Both sides need the middle voter, the one who finds Trump utterly repugnant, but has no intention of voting to tax themselves into oblivion or the re-education camps for not using the correct terminology for manholes. To even caution moderation today is to be viciously attacked by shrieking scolds reading moderation as total racist capitulation. They passionately believe this is going to win over hearts and minds?

The middle will vote in one way or another. They will go to the polls and vote for the lesser of evils, or they will stay home and utter “a pox on both your houses.” They will not vote for either, but against one.

As has been clear since the midterm elections, the left sees this moment in history as the most opportune to fundamentally re-engineer our social structure. When will they ever again have a president so despised, so beyond the pale offensive, as Trump? The strategy is to bootstrap the majority of voters, the anti-Trump majority, into a wave that will bring social justice, identity politics, socialism, into power.

Trump has no potential to capture the affirmative vote of the middle. There is absolutely nothing he can say or do at this point to change who he is, despicable, not that he appears to care. But there is no will on the other side to offer an alternative to the fundamental shift in American society.

Even if the candidate mouths the words of moderation, that she will be a president for all the people and not favor one race over another, one gender over another, and crush the hopes of Americans, especially those who risked so much to come here from other places, to achieve success for themselves and their posterity, no one will believe them. But they won’t say that, as their base will hate them for it. Both bases, despite their denials, are remarkably similar in their simplistic understandings, their viciousness and their demand for authoritarian control of the others.

The more Trump talks, the more repugnant he gets. But neither the Squad nor the 32 flavors of candidates are helping themselves. They want their revolution. The middle does not.

Conventional wisdom on 2020 is that Democrats will lose if they can’t get their progressive wing under control. This overstates the leftward swing of the Democratic Party and understates the distance between the center of American politics and the president’s right-wing policies. It also misses another, crucial dynamic — that by trying to court and convert voters who backed Trump, Democrats may sacrifice an opportunity to deepen support among their existing voters, to powerful electoral consequences.

Most people want to believe they’re fairly normal as opposed to some freakish outlier, and Bouie is such a person. But even if he can fool himself, it’s not going to fool anyone else. Elections are a numbers game, no matter how many words are murdered to argue otherwise. Just as Trump plays to the sort of person who would want to attend a rally where people chant “send her back” or “lock her up,” Bouie argues that the biggest mistake the Democrats could make is to forsake the extreme.

Yesterday, I watched as a guy stated on twitter that he would vote third-party, as he could not support Trump or any of the Democratic candidates. He was pounded by progressives with the argument that if he didn’t vote Democratic, he was effectively voting for Trump the racist, and that made him a racist. There is no middle ground to either extreme, and yet that’s where the voters are that are needed and neither side seems to grasp the math.

42 thoughts on “Voter In The Middle

    1. SHG Post author

      He’s not my asshole. I’ve been abundantly clear on that point from the start. But that doesn’t provide much of an answer to any question.

  1. Jeff

    It’s been absolutely baffling of late, I’ve seen attacks on centrism, those who reject either fringe. Just as you indicate, so I too have witnessed on social media; if you don’t support progressives, don’t absolutely hate Trump to the point where you abdicate all logical thought entirely then you’re no better than a Trump supporter.

    It’s an obvious strategy but bold, and I’ve never seen the like before. Surely they believe that if you shame someone they’ll come around to your way of thinking, but I’ve never found this strategy to work, particularly when their platform doesn’t exactly come across as entirely rational to begin with. The autistic screeching isn’t exactly palatable, and not a viable alternative to thinking in my personal opinion.

    1. SHG Post author

      There will almost certainly be another thousand outrages between now and the election. What influence that will have remains to be seen. But until then, I feel confident that I will not be swayed by the antagonistic hysteria. Shrieking will not win my vote.

  2. Ahaz01

    It does seem that moderation is a bad word these days. As you correctly inferred, the extremes of each party seem to suck the oxygen from the room. Is also highlights the unfortunate reality of the primary process where the extremes of each party are the most active and most dedicated to the vote. Throw in gerrymandering and we have a combustible mixture of crazy and more crazy. The SCOTUS did do us any favors with their ruling on gerrymandering and unless the issue becomes on state levels ballots, I would expect even more extremism and more “Trump” like candidates at the national level.

  3. B. McLeod

    This sums up the Hobson’s choice the “parties” intend to ram up voters’ asses in 2020. It’s either four more years of oafishness, or a trip down the rabbit hole of “progressive” totalitarianism. Apart from the Libertarian and Anarchist factions (the only ones philosophically successful in an era of neutralized government), nobody wants either of these choices. Yet, it is July of 2019, less than 16 months from the election, and there is no sign of any viable third-party candidate.

    1. SHG Post author

      Yesterday, in my half-joking way, I proposed Mitt running as a Dem to return the nation to level. The progs didn’t find it funny at all.

      1. Jake

        The squad’s gotta squad for the progressives that voted them in. Standing out in a crowded Democratic primary requires bold vision and promises that will never be fulfilled because they are beyond the power of the president alone.

        But if you’re right, there will be many centrist candidates for Congress in 2020 and the incumbents will cool down the rhetoric. We shall see.

        1. SHG Post author

          Congressional districts are small, and their races, particularly in off years, bring out only the “faithful,” making them quite different from presidential elections. But the issue raised by the Squad is giving comfort and succor to Trump, who needs some target for his invective. And they seem to be thrilled about it.

          1. Jake

            FWIW my opinion of Mitt Romney for president has improved dramatically since the last time he ran.

    2. F. Lee Billy

      Where have you been McCloudy Day? The so-called third party is a will o’ the wisp, a mirage, a pipe-dream,… The third rail of politics, shall we say? If you catch my drift? ” Philosophically successful in an era of neutralized government,”… thank you very much thesis advisor and academic mentor par excellence. Wish I’d thought of that catchy phrase, Kimosabe!

      We have a bifurcated government and political system. Something like a marriage where both parties vie for control, but the marriage inevitability goes into the toilet, and the courtroom where level heads are presumed to prevail, but rarely do, due to their black-robbed pomposity and utter ignorance of the law, case history and/precedent. We neither like nor trust the courts.

      What have they done for us except cost us time, energy, money and sleepless nites. They suck, simpley. You too, Chief Justice Robert’s Rules of Disorders.

      Heat wave is upon our doorstep. It’s that time of year. We know how hot and miserable D.C. can be! May cooler heads prevail? Not likely this summer, Hobson Choices notwithstanding. Not to worry: McCloudy dayz are comin’.

  4. Cinnamongirl

    Our only hope is Biden who I was enthusiastic about before the debates and following interviews. Unfortunately, he came across as past his prime and and turned a lot of moderates off, including myself. He’s got to get the fight in him and stop using the word “man” like “I’m not racist, man, I served under Barack”. See, interview with Cuomo. Buttegieg is the smartest in the group, but will the country elect a gay man? Can he stand up to Trump in a debate. Can any of the twenty? I fear not.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m going to pull rank here and note that nowhere does this post parse the Dem candidates, nor suggest that anyone else should. You’ve not only gone down an orthogonal rabbit hole, but a deeply problematic one. Rather than address any of this, because it’s utterly worthless to do at this stage, I’m going to use this opportunity to note that this comment is officially nullified and no further discussion of Dem candidates will be suffered on this post. Don’t do it. Your comment will be trashed.

        1. F. Lee Billy

          Don’t be bullied by SHG. He’s actually a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Once you get to know him, he can be quite nice and gentlemanly and cuddly, unlike our stewpid, moronic, bipolar president.

          1. Cinnamongirl

            Thank you Billy. Hon. SHG is very kind indeed. But he also has to keep order in the courtroom. I’m always respectful to the judge until I’m not and that’s usually because he/she/they are dumb or crazy and unfit to sit on the bench. Bronx Civil is a shining example.

            1. SHG Post author

              That’s the nicest anyone has ever been to Bill. Don’t get used to it, Bill, as everyone isn’t as kind as CG.

  5. phv3773

    I do wish someone would ask (e.g.) [Ed. Note: Deleted, because I said so.] what her plan is for fixing Social Security.

    1. LocoYokel

      What is ANYBODY’s plan for fixing Social Security? I would really be interesting in hearing one besides “Tax the 1% into poverty.”.

        1. LocoYokel

          Sort of, but if a candidate can outline a good plan for that I would be willing to listen to their plans for fixing other issues and then governance in general. They would possibly even end up with my vote. But they have to start somewhere other than SOCIALISM!!!! or BUILD A WALL!!!! to get me to start paying attention.

  6. Bryan Burroughs

    With the numbers as they are, I can’t understand why a third party can’t get any traction. Polls in 2016 showed that over 60% of the nation didn’t want either candidate to win. Even split in half, that’s enough to defeat both parties.

      1. Onlymom

        Easy enough to get one.

        Hit the local zoo grab a chimp stick a campaign sticker on it.

        Would win in a landslide.

    1. Alex

      Possibly because no third party candidate has ever won a presidential election in the history of our republic?

      Just because a majority would choose “none of the above” doesn’t mean they’d agree on any one candidate.

  7. Fubar

    The middle will vote in one way or another. They will go to the polls and vote for the lesser of evils, or they will stay home and utter “a pox on both your houses.” They will not vote for either, but against one.

    We’ve all voted one way or another,
    For unicorns, moonbeams, Earth Mother.
    Once elected, we see
    Them transform magic’ly
    To Caligula, Marx and Big Brother!

    1. F. Lee Billy

      Brilliant, as usual. Thanx for not dropping out or losing the Muse.

      There once was a man named Fubar
      Who came from near or afar?
      His identity was hidden,
      And severely forbidden,
      So as to disguise his membership in the “bar.”
      (Not the corner bar in Southie, dumdum,… The”legal” bar, where select members are “above the law,”…if you catch my drift?!?)

      1. Guitardave

        There once was a man, F Lee Billy
        Whose comments went way beyond silly
        Though its hard to decode
        He likes to unload
        So you can’t say the man gilds the lily

        1. F. Lee Billy

          Stick to yer guitar, Dave. You are no poet laureate, par excellence, exacta mundo, …if you catch my drift? Why do I bother?!?

  8. Dom

    While I appreciate your point, isn’t racism a hard line over which one can’t cross? There are many issues confronting America, and we can disagree strongly about them. But there can be no disagreement about racism, that Trump is racist, that the GOP either are racist or complicit, that anything less than opposing them is to accept racism.

    So, there is no question but that the ultimate question in the upcoming election is are you a racist or not.

    1. D-Poll

      I dispute all those things, actually. As the red M&M says, “I don’t know, I’ve never met the guy!”

      Is racism even, indeed, a hard line over which one can’t cross? By that argument we would refuse to elect Lincoln. Yet Lincoln freed the slaves, even if he wouldn’t let one date his daughter.

    2. SHG Post author

      Your point is what makes this such a difficult problem. Unlike D-Poll, I can’t dismiss the racism so easily. But then, I also don’t think the line is as clear or bright as you make it. I completely agree that Trump uses “racist” rhetoric, which I put into scare quotes because I see no purpose in arguing whether it’s race, national origin or ethnicity at stake. It’s bad and false rhetoric any way it’s twisted.

      But at the same time, there has never been a time in our history where society was less racist toward black and Hispanics than today, which is why this issue has come to the surface. I doubt most Trump supporters believe they’re racist, and I doubt most would support discrimination against black or Hispanic people per se. We are arguing at the fringes, not the core issue. The neo-Nazis are a tiny, deeply marginalized group of nutjobs, given unfortunate prominence in the media so we have an enemy to fight. They aren’t a real threat, but a threat made to appear real to create fear and push us to beat the enemy.

      To add fuel to the fire, the woke definition of discrimination, that whites can do it to blacks but not the other way around, fuels the racial antagonism. There is no purpose served by attacking people based on their race, regardless of what that race may be, particularly when it’s in the minorities’ best interest to create consensus and support rather than antagonism and enemies.

      That said, there are many issues at stake going forward, and for some race is the primary and predominant issue. For others, it’s feeding their children and surviving. So the question is whether Trump’s racist rhetoric reflects an issue of such seriousness that it overwhelms all others, or is just empty noise spewed by the First Fool. The answer may be up to the individual, who puts race on top of all other issues. If you’re white and your kid is hungry, chances are race isn’t your first priority. The failure to appreciate this is a huge problem. The reaction of calling the parent of a hungry kid “racist” is neither a solution nor winning tactic.

      1. Jevioso

        I’m not a 100% sure this is true. I mean, can you even say the country is less racist now than it was 10 years ago under Obama’s when his administration first began?

        1. SHG Post author

          If you want to argue the point, that’s fine. A vapid question isn’t an argument, unless you’re of the peculiarly narcissistic view that your not being 100% sure is of such vast and critical important because you are the center of the universe and everyone else hangs on your 100% certainty. Are you the center of the universe?

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