Regardless of your political, social, & economic beliefs, you have to marvel at the political phenomenon that is President Obama. The coalition he has built on the sheer appeal of his public persona is now the dominant machine in American Presidential politics. Near total African-American support, very high Hispanic-Latin support, very high level of college-educated White support which includes virtually 100% of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS makes his coalition nearly impossible to beat at least when he delivers a call to arms to his coalition.
The only way to defeat it is the creation of another movement, a movement that galvanizes a bigger group of the electorate. The best description of this group came from Robert Costa of the Washington Post last week:
- “the most important voter in this movement, when I travel around the country, is the previously disengaged voter; they are almost non-partisan voters; they have given up political processes; they have disengaged from civic society; they don’t really follow politics … that is a huge block; there is so much of this country that rarely, if ever, votes; and if for some reason they come to the polls in droves that changes everything“.
There was one caveat in Costa’s comments – “… & if that is a real coherent voting bloc … “. That is a very big “if” and on that “if” may rest the November 2016 election. The reality is that a “coherent voting bloc” doesn’t arise naturally. It has to be created, nurtured & developed by either a very talented politician or a fight for a true cause. This is even more true if the “bloc” is an unorganized group that has disengaged itself from the political process out of disgust, apathy or depressed surrender.
We saw such a coherent bloc emerge in the Brexit election and they changed Europe not merely England. The Costa-type English people rose as a “coherent voting bloc” to win Brexit.
Such a Brexit type rise in America’s disengaged voters in favor of Donald Trump is probably the only way he can win the November election. That is the way he swept all others in the race for the Republican Nomination. The vocal, the committed among this “previously disengaged” bloc rose for him and became a movement in the Republican party.
The supporters of Trump seem to be resting their hopes on a repeat of the Brexit phenomenon and drawing comfort from the large rallies at Trump speeches. They forget that the vocal people who drove Trump to victory in the Republican primaries are a minority of the Costa-described bloc. The key is to drive the majority of this bloc to vote and that is a tall order. There is no sign of a determined effort within the Trump campaign to motivate, organize, and bring the majority of these “voters” to vote.
1.Big Difference between the Brexit vote & the November vote
The primary face of the Brexit campaign was Boris Johnson, a Trump-light type of a figure. He was a flamboyant and often controversial rebel, a true insurgent. The face of the Brexremain campaign was David Cameron, the sitting Prime Minister. Boris Johnson won & David Cameron lost. QED for November 2016, right?
Not really. Because the Brexit campaign was never about choosing Boris Johnson over David Cameron as UK’s next leader. Who knows what would have happened had that been the case? The Brexit vote was not an election; it was a referendum on a couple of issues. The issues were central to the identity of England, the choice of retaining the essential character of England. That is what drove the previously disengaged voters of England to vote, not the appeal of Boris Johnson.
Similar was the strength of the Trump campaign during the Republican Primaries. It was the promise to make America Great Again, a fight for the lost soul, lost prosperity of America’s majority. The voters who supported Trump sensed it and that is why they didn’t care about his follies & his defects. Donald Trump appealed to this movement in his nomination speech at the Republican Convention with his “I am your voice” commitment.
And then he went away from it. He let the personal attacks from the Democrat Convention deviate him from his commitment to the voters. He could have simply deflected the personal attacks by saying they are attacking me personally because they can’t attack our movement, they can’t attack what we stand for making America Great Again. Instead, he showed his worst side at a time that was ripe for him to show his best.
If Donald Trump really wants to win this election, he needs to get back to making this election about the only issue that counts – delivering lost respect & a part of lost prosperity to the forgotten majority. He has to make his campaign a movement once again, a movement not for him personally but for the majority that has been cast aside. He has to make it a movement against unfair trade; against dangerous immigration and for making America work again for the forgotten Americans. He has to get back to what he said last Friday in Green Bay, Wisconsin:
- “This campaign is not about me; it is about America. It is time for a change”
- “This is a movement … I am only a messenger … we have done something together … I am not a politician .. I ran against the system … I am probably better off running against the system”
The Brexit campaign never lost sight of what they were fighting for. The Trump campaign not only lost sight but went off the rails in a wild goose chase. We now see Donald Trump trying to figure out what lines he should use to hit back at Hillary & Obama. He is in search of his old magic that worked in the Republican campaign.
Instead, he should remake this election into a referendum against Unfair Trade, against Dangerous Immigration and against War-mongering that has caused such damage to America and such loss of life in his core base – lower income Americans who make up America’s military. He should remake the election as a movement for change, a movement that is absolutely critical to keeping America what it has always been, a movement that he commits to fight for and will keep fighting for.
That is the only way to make the November election into a people’s fight the way Brexit became.
2. Media Treatment of Trump
There is no question that the mainstream media has gone into vitriolic attack on Donald Trump. The Trump campaign should have been prepared for it. After all, the TV anchors & networks are America’s card-carrying elite. All of them are multi-millionaires and totally invested in remaining elite. Very few of them remember what their grandparents or, in some cases, what their parents went through. As a result, they seem to exude complete contempt for today’s counterparts of their own grandparents. That contempt is showing up every day in their brutal trashing of what Donald Trump is fighting for.
There is another reality to TV anchors. They are somewhat like referees in NBA & NFL. Their calls tend to go to the winning team, the aggressive team. They went for Trump in the Republican primaries and are now all out to call fouls on him. It is the oldest rule in sports, the guy who retaliates is the one that is charged a foul. Remember Dexter Manley of the Washington Redskins who spit in the eye of the opposing lineman? Manley was not charged a foul, the foul was called on the opposing lineman who retaliated. The penalty for retaliation for Manley’s spit is credited for his team’s victory.
Now yelling at the referees is a very important part of managing the game. But the players, especially the MVP, should never do that. That is the job of the Coaches who should & do go nuts against the Referees. In this case, Trump’s media attack team should have gone on a full-blown offensive against TV anchors and taken their case on to social media. But wait, Trump doesn’t have a media attack team. So that falls to 1-2 campaign aides & Republican party people. But they are either invisible or visibly incompetent.
The real question is whether the management of the TV networks is directing their anchors to attack Trump or are the anchors doing it themselves. We don’t know because those directives are usually delivered behind the scenes. But sometimes, we see signs as we did at CNBC.
CNBC gave full & unrestricted coverage to the anti-Trump comments of billionaires like Meg Whitman.
In contrast, look what CNBC management did this week. Carl Icahn, a billionaire & a favored guest of CNBC Fast Money, delivered a sensible, rational and full-throated message in support of Donald Trump. To his credit, anchor Scott Wapner allowed Icahn to deliver his message in full.
But what did CNBC Management do? They prevented access to Icahn’s message for the vast majority of CNBC.com readers by hiding the Icahn clip behind their paid firewall.
Watch Icahn’s entire forceful defense ofTrump — To watch the broadcast interview in its entirety, you must be aCNBC PRO subscriber.
So free unrestricted access to anti-Trump attacks by Meg Whitman but limited restricted access to pro-Trump support by Carl Icahn? Why? Because they didn’t want the vast majority of their readers to watch that. Who else but CNBC management could have enforced this?
Then look at what CNBC did to similar support of Trump by Kevin O’Leary, another stalwart CNBC guest. He had relayed a story of a couple he knew. The wife attended a Trump rally but the husband didn’t despite being a Trump supporter and donating to the Trump campaign. This, O’Leary said, was an indication of the silent support for Trump. What did CNBC do? They deleted this story from the videoclip of Kevin O’Leary they posted on CNBC.com. This again seems like a management decision of CNBC. But whose? President Mark Hoffman’s, Editor Nick Deogun’s or of VP Brian Steel, an ex-official of the Clinton White House? .
If simple folks like us notice these actions, why doesn’t the Trump campaign? If they do, why don’t they respond to attacks? Why don’t share this media prejudice with every one on social media with quick instagram responses?
But TV anchors are not fools and they certainly are not prone to getting way ahead of their viewers. After all, their incomes & careers are dependent on viewers watching their shows. They may be beginning to sense that they might have gone too overboard in attacking Trump. They won’t stop their attacks but they might become more selective. And they might begin to at least act as if they are covering the Hillary mistakes too.
Look what the most partisan of all anchors did this week. Chris Mathews of MSNBC actually allowed Mayor Rudi Giuliani the freedom to attack Hillary Clinton’s actions.
Watch the four minutes from 01:50 to 05:50 and marvel at the rare glimpse of Chris Mathews trying hard to remain non-partisan. And read what Mathews allowed Mayor Giuliani to say on his show:
- “I could indict them if I were US Attorney under 18 USC Section 701 … in a minute and I believe I could develop a racketeering enterprise case on the Clinton Foundation“
Holy whatever! If Chris Mathews can stoop to such a non-partisan level, can CNN be far behind? Or does that depend on Jeff Zucker and Jeff Bewkes?
Getting back to the campaign, we do realize this is a momentous election with possibly major consequences for America and the World. But you know what? It is also the most interesting, entertaining, and fun election we have ever seen. So we are going to enjoy it for the next 90 odd days.
Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org Or @MacroViewpoints on Twitter