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June 21, 2019 / 0 Comments / Uncategorized

Trump Victory in 2020?


As this is being written,
a swarm of Democrats are vying to see who will go up against Trump in 2020.
While there have been some calls for a bold Republican to try to primary Trump,
this is extremely unlikely. Trump enjoys strong support from Republican voters
and Republicans have long ceased to offer even feeble condemnations of his
worst deeds. On the one hand, this support might strike some as odd. To use an analogy,
imagine if you hired a plumber and they talked about their job like Trump (borderline
incoherent) and expressed no interest or skill in doing plumbing? You would not
support that plumber or be inclined to hire them again. One might say that this
analogy breaks down because Trump is like the owner of a plumbing business—what
matters is the people that do the actual work. While this analogy has some
merit, it runs into a few problems. First, Trump has put many incompetents and
grifters into top positions—so the picked employees of the company are also
awful. Second, the majority of the employees have nothing to do with Trump—they
are the rank and file federal workers who keep the country going regardless of
who is in the Whitehouse. If they are doing a competent job, this has nothing
to do with Trump.

 On the other hand, Trump’s level of support
makes perfect sense. Trump is eminently adapted to the political ecosystem that
the Republicans created—he is a magnificent alligator for their lovingly
crafted swamp. For example, the Republicans have been pushing the “liberal
media” line for decades and Trump is hatred of the free press made manifest. To
add additional illustrations, he has taken the reins of the bandwagon of voter fraud
and has set aside the Republican dog whistle for bullhorn.

Trump, by chance or
instinct, also fits perfectly into the politics as team sport/tribal conflict
model. He “sticks it to” the other side, praises his side, and values only
winning. As such, he is the perfect political beast for the Republican party. While
there are some meaningful political differences between Americans, there is considerable
agreement
. There is also the obvious fact that Trump has taken positions
that directly oppose professed Republican values: he is running a deficit,
increasing spending, opposing free trade and so on. This indicates that political
identity is often rather like being a sports fan: the teams stand for nothing,
one just happens to have a favorite and supports it with unwarranted fervor
because it is one’s team.

While Trump will win the
Republican vote in 2020, he still needs independents and perhaps some Democrats
to win. While some might entertain the wishful thinking that Trump cannot win,
he has an excellent chance in 2020. First, the Democrats are…well…the
Democrats. Although Obama’s people did an amazing job using technology and
motivating voters, the current Democrats do not include such a charismatic
figure and they are not as ruthlessly strategic as the Republicans (see, for
example, voter suppression efforts). Second, the economy is very strong, and it
seems likely that it will stay that way—incumbent presidents tend to get
re-elected when the economy is doing well. This is somewhat like the passengers
praising the captain of a cruise ship for the nice weather; silly but that is
how people think. Or, to use another analogy, it would be like praising the captain
of your intramural softball team because the field is so nice. This is because
the president really has little impact on the economy; though they do have
some.  

 Third, Trump seems utterly immune to scandals
and terrible behavior that would be career-ending for almost any other human. Nancy
Pelosi professes that the political calculus precludes impeaching Trump, so he
seems safe there. In fact, attempting to impeach Trump would probably increase
his chances of being elected. Not trying to do so leaves him able to run and
also gives him a point on which to mock the Democrats.  Because of these factors, unless the economy
tanks, Trump is likely to be re-elected.

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