Trump 2020!


Yes, you read that correctly. Trump could, very well, win re-election in 2020.

I’m not being a Cassandra, here. There’s nothing Red Witchy about this prediction. I’m observing the political landscape and I just don’t see why the Orange Don couldn’t be a two-term president.

True enough, Democrats, liberals and the left are getting some perverse satisfaction in watching an obviously unqualified president flail and convulse, tearing down the house while fellow Republicans do everything they can to avoid the rubble. If the consequences weren’t so dire, it would be almost comical. That such a Swiftian character incarnate could be re-elected is just beyond our comprehension.

Yet, we have to remember, he was elected. After all of the missteps, all of the outrageous statements, all of the times we knew, just knew, that the latest scandal would be the one that brought Trump’s ill-fated campaign to an end, he still got elected. We’ve been predicting the last days of Trump for two years now and…nothing.

We may find some faint solace in the fact that Trump’s approval rating is just under 40% and seems to be slowly declining. But this is not much of a source of comfort. Despite his abysmal performance, his lies, his contradictions, his multiple scandals, his anemic legislative record despite controlling Congress, his embarrassing performance before the entire world, more than a third of Americans APPROVE of his performance–and only just over half disapprove. Perhaps these polling results are historically low as far as presidents go, but they are not nearly low enough when evaluating the toxic train-wreck that is the Trump Administration. We should be appalled that his numbers are that high.

The first, and I believe the most pressing problem, is that Trump’s supporters are staying firm in their commitment to him and to all he stands for. Even his least ardent supporters mostly approve of the job he is doing, though if given a choice, they would vote for Mike Pence over the coifed crusader. Again, this factoid should not bring much comfort.

Back in April, I was in an almost surreal position. I was in Jamaica, standing in line behind a family from Tennessee that was in conversation with a family from Surrey, England. The American family asked their new-found English friends how the Brits felt about our new President. Of course, the valid answer was that Brits really, really didn’t like Trump. But this was a friendly, classy, British family who was, based on their facial responses when asked, not interested in getting into a political contest with a couple of Tennesseans while on vacation in Jamaica. They offered some neutral non-answers, “We’re mostly waiting to see how he does.”  “He just took office, so it’s hard to say yet.”

“Well,” said Tennessee mom, a very nice, outgoing, middle-aged woman with a great sense of humor, “I think he’s doing a great job, but you won’t hear that from the media.”

Everybody nodded politely. English mom, the more gregarious of the parents from across the pond, replied, “of course.”

“The media hates him,” Tennessee mom continued, “and they are going to do everything they can to make him look bad.”

This conversation pretty much encapsulates the source of Trump’s staying power. His followers (as distinct from supporters) live in what is often referred to as a bubble in which only that information supporting their worldview, in this case, the superior qualities of Donald Trump, can get in. Paradigms that challenge their worldview are filtered out. They are impervious to Trump’s incompetence and corruption because their filter is opaque to that particular spectrum. Trump can do no wrong.

But he is doing wrong. Research after research shows that Trump’s policies will most negatively impact Trump supporters. Surely, once millions of Trumpistas lose their health coverage, that indisputable fact will bust through their bubble and reveal the truth.

Perhaps, but here we have what is quite possibly the most surreal paradox of the entire Trump phenomenon. Trump’s very incompetence may actually serve as part of the filter that hides his incompetence. As it stands, Trump’s followers have not suffered the dire consequences of their icon’s, and their party’s awful policies. The GOP has not been able to get much done. Which is good, because the things they want to get done are appalling. On the other hand, there are no negative consequences for supporting the Trump doctrine such as it is. It’s as if he excretes his own bulletproof exoskeleton.

We also can’t rule out the fact that, if anything does go wrong, blaming Obama/Clinton/Democrats is still the main course of any right-wing gathering. “You lost your health coverage because of Obamacare. If Democrats would just get out of Trump’s way, he could fix the whole thing. You’d have beautiful, amazing health care!” This message will get through the filter. The truth will not.

Finally, let’s face it, the Democratic Party is doing nothing to offer an alternative vision for the nation. It’s as if the Democrats are holding to the Napoleonic maxim, “never interfere when your enemies are destroying themselves.” They are sitting back and letting the GOP flounder. This solves the whole problem of having to deal with the clear divisions within the Democratic Party, of having to make structural changes to ensure legitimacy in a more progressive, more technically challenging, twenty-first century.

Unfortunately, this strategy only works if one’s enemies really are destroying themselves. I’ve seen nothing so far to suggest that loyal Republicans of 2016 will be any less loyal in 2020. In the meantime, Democrats have a real serious motivation problem. Hillary didn’t lose because of some surge in angry white men voting for Trump. She lost because the Obama coalition was not motivated to come out for an establishment candidate. I see no reason to believe that this fact is being addressed.

If nothing happens to interrupt these trends, the group closure of Trump followers and the anemic vision of the Democratic Party, I see no reason why 2018 will not be another Republican year and why 2020 will be anything other than another Trump electoral upset.

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