Excerpt from Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s interview with Donald Trump: “A Bloomberg analysis shows that counties that voted for you, middle-class and working-class counties would do far less well under the (healthcare) bill than counties that voted for Hillary (Clinton).” Trump’s response: “Oh, I know.”
One of the takeaways from the presidential election of 2016 is that while Hillary Clinton went around talking in detail about what her vision was for the country and devoted huge effort to her debate prep so that she could articulate what she stood for and what her vision for the country was moving forward she lost in some part because the information she was conveying was just a lot of ‘convoluted noise’ versus now-President* Trump’s consistent and simplistic messaging to republican voters and to independents who would eventually provide the deciding votes in the general election.
Trump’s campaign messaging effort basically boiled down to ‘make America great again’, ‘America first’, ‘build a wall’, and ‘lock her up’. Trump didn’t even bother with debate prep: he resorted to just saying ‘wrong’ over and over again. Apparently, it seems, that if you’re going to win an election in this country the absolute last thing you should do is try and speak with any degree of intellect when addressing voters.
If democratic messaging was muddled in 2016 it should be absolutely crystal clear in 2018. And for that we have Donald Trump and Paul Ryan to thank. In the 2018 election, democrats should basically be able to put campaign strategy on autopilot and show up for campaign appearances with nothing more than a clean shirt and a nice smile and look forward to at least reclaiming the House. To wit: the above admission by Trump that his claim that everyone would be beautifully covered by his version of a healthcare plan is – as my dad used to say – a total crock. You don’t have to be JFK to beat an opponent forced to defend that Trump-patented drivel. Better still? Optimistically we would have to think that the GOP has massively overplayed their hand on turning the results of a single general election in 2016 into some sinister long term mandate to eliminate the empathy and caring we show our own citizens by way of forward-thinking social programs, not to mention the respect and caring we show other people and countries from around the world. The GOP’s worldview has been exposed for the harsh xenophobic, racist elements it contains. While we only saw hints of the GOP baser instincts that were there during the Obama years, it has now clearly crawled out from under its rock. In the clear light of day, defending what has been exposed by way of the GOP’s healthcare agenda and its unwillingness to fully divorce itself from the Trump insanity in all its paranoid forms the GOP stands bare with all its warts for all to see.
I can’t wait for the next election season: commercials dancing across the screen quoting Donald Trump and Paul Ryan with their spin on healthcare juxtaposed with graphics highlighting CBO scores and the 24 million people left without insurance. Trump’s stated devotion to constituents such as coal mining communities and seniors juxtaposed against the graphics highlighting the impact of Trump-proposed budget cuts that once supported programs for the benefit of the elderly and Appalachian region.
Politicians lie, but the numbers don’t. These guys are shoveling on the pain for the very people who voted for them. Unless these same people stood in a voting booth and signed off on a suicide pact I didn’t see when I was standing in the same booth, they are going to have a problem with Trump and the GOP and starting in 2018 they will be able to do something about it.
GOP Campaign Messaging Versus Democratic Messaging: Clear vs. Cloudy
To get where they wanted to go, Trump and the GOP told some whoppers on the campaign trail. They also had a much better understanding that people in this country care mostly about themselves. On the flip side we endured democrats muddling every issue they touched with intellectual arguments that sound wonderful if you never leave the confines of New York City and Boston, traveling throughout the land convinced in their own righteousness and likewise convinced that people really do want the truth and really do come at the electoral process already equipped with a strong understanding of right from wrong and ready, willing, and able to hear politicians talk in complicated, wonky jargon about subject matter such as globalization, immigration policies, and global warming.
Now the democrats get a ‘do-over’. The DNC gets to sit down in a conference room somewhere and design a 2018 strategy that eschews the wonk and goes straight for the GOP jugular with simple messaging helped immensely by the fact that the GOP has now exposed themselves for what they always were: a batch of number-crunching, heartless human beings who are only capable of tears if a budget gets in the way of spending even greater sums on defense, or, they need to convert their years-long rants about repealing Obamacare into something that actually improves on the original bill they mocked and claimed to abhor.
Thanks to the GOP shooting themselves in each foot on an almost daily basis trying to provide a viable healthcare plan while the Freedom Caucus screams about fiscal sanity at the expense of your family’s health and wellbeing or Trump trying and failing to convince people and the federal courts (Darn it: they sure make it hard for a xenophobe to get his groove on!) we’re all at imminent risk from refugee toddlers and grandmothers, the voices of dissenting opinions by democratic candidates should be made that much easier to hear by all voters. Of course, the words ‘should be’ are key to eliminating the madness to which we’ve all been consigned: given President* Trump’s persistent failings as a human-being capable of empathy, simple human decency and someone whose intellect rises above that of a person who you wouldn’t want to sit next to on public transportation, Hillary Clinton should be our President. We saw how that turned out. Get it together DNC: the bar doesn’t get any lower than this.