Shooting someone on Fifth Avenue and not losing support might still be on the table for the President but it hasn’t done anything to garner him the additional support that he needs to win re-election.
By David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, October 6, 2020
An interesting feature of this election is the notion that Trump’s support among his base seems to operate independently from current events. The President is more or less immune to the ups and downs that might normally come with public perception of how he’s handling any given crisis or national security threat. It’s, as they say, already baked in. Those who like him, like him no matter what, and those who do not, will not be persuaded otherwise. The difference being is that Trump has never enjoyed widespread support from a majority of Americans. He has operated his entire presidency with an approval rating in the low 40’s. His base of support has remained solid, but so has his ceiling, which is just as solidly baked.
In a normal election cycle we could expect the polls to be somewhat dynamic as pundits are often quick to point out that a lot can happen between now and Election Day. But will it really? For one thing, voting has already started in many places and many votes have already been cast. It’s further unlikely that a significant number of likely voters will change their minds about who they’re voting for in the next few weeks. There are no mysteries about the candidates, one a four decade veteran of national politics and the other the sitting President. We know how they will govern.
The only real variable is our hesitancy to assume anything given the upset of the 2016 election. The country is a bit gun shy and reluctant to call a spade a spade. We are collectively a little less confident in predicting the future given the volatile nature of the past. While that’s understandable, it’s no less implausible that Trump can and will exceed expectations once again. It’s nothing short of magical thinking on the part of his supporters and irrational fear on the part of his critics. After four years of devastating losses and near daily abuse, the Democrats can’t bring themselves to once again believe in anything as fleeting and insubstantial as Hope. They want assurances and since there are none, all they can do is wait.
There has been no let down of support for the President and his supporters will most assuredly come out in droves to vote for him. But the media keeps focusing on the President’s supporters because they are vocal and easy to spot. Far less obvious is the new silent majority, to borrow Nixon’s turn of phrase, the growing chorus of Americans who regularly detail the lengths they plan to go to, it order to vote against the President this election, from crawling over broken glass to standing in line for days. They are not motivated by their infatuation with a shiny new politician or the promise of a new beginning. This isn’t a campaign of hope. It’s a campaign of ending the terror and horror of the Trump presidency. Democrats haven’t been this motivated to act in concert since first electing Obama in 2008. But if that election was based on the hope for change, this time it’s based on the fear that it will not. Democrats are not voting for a savior so much as collectively voting against their abuser. They would elect a ham sandwich if they thought it would end the national nightmare.
There are those still making phone calls, those trying to raise money, and even those somehow worried that the news media will somehow misinform or confuse voters with a story about polling. But this election is over with. For better or worse, all that is left to do is count the votes. That’s not to say there won’t still be issues with attempted voter suppression and other nefarious activities, but the President’s efforts to curtail vote by mail have been unsuccessful. As of now, over 198 million Americans who are eligible to vote would be able to cast a ballot by mail. Many others have already begun to vote early. But no matter what it will be a strange Election Day that by all accounts will not end with a winner. It will be weeks before the results are certified and it could be days or weeks before news outlets are effectively able to call key races. We could be well onto Thanksgiving before we know.
Ray Bradbury in his dystopian novel of censorship Fahrenheit 451 wrote, “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”
Or as it says in the Bible, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”