We are approximately 100 days away from the November 3 election, and it seems pretty obvious that Joe Biden will be our next president. Biden, I expect, will easily defeat Donald Trump if he hasn’t died before then. The Senate may fall to the Democrats.
Trump’s support has been sliding over the past 90 days. Polling in the largest electoral states by reputable non-partisan pollsters shows unwavering leads for Biden. Even in red states like Georgia and Alabama, Biden is leading by small margins. That he would even be close to Trump, much less ahead, is a remarkable indicator.
Why am I this confident? Two reasons. The main reason is Donald Trump himself. He is uniquely abnormal. Normally one could reasonably argue that it’s too soon to predict the election; that dramatic events might occur; and that the incumbent has the power to capture the headlines or change his message.
But Trump will not change his message, his image or how he acts because he cannot. His deep personality disorder causes a lack of self-awareness. He knows only one script. You can put lipstick on a pig, but you cannot teach it to whistle. For his followers, they can happily take assurance in Trump not changing.
The second reason is that, in a sense, the voting is already over. Biden’s supporters are not going to change their minds. We are deeply dug in. Many Democrats dearly wanted Bernie Sanders or preferred Warren, Booker or Klobuchar, etc. And some fret over Biden’s age and malapropisms. But Biden doesn’t need to campaign hard as long as Trump keeps stepping on his own shoelaces. Republicans attack Biden as a tired member of the insider establishment in contrast to Trump’s “outsider” stature. Be that as it may, Democrat primary voters effectively decided that Biden had the best chance of beating Trump, and that’s that.
By the same token, Trump’s supporters are just as convinced of their guy. The persistency of Trump’s approval rating between 40 and 44% over 47 months is astonishing.
The sides are far apart with no middle ground. It’s like the 1770s colonists who had to choose whether they were a Tory or a revolutionist.
Other variables factor into a Biden walk-away win. Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, thanks largely to Trump’s refusal to lead. The hoped for “V”-shaped economic rebound clearly is not happening with major retailers filing bankruptcy and whole industries: air travel, cruise lines, hospitality, restaurant, entertainment, and collegiate and professional sports groping for oxygen.
Add the cataclysmic Black Lives Matter movement. Unexpectedly, we are experiencing a defining moment in America’s racial relations from which there’s no turning back. Both conservatives and liberals are awakening to this. But Trump hasn’t and will not.
Why is Trump’s so-called “base” so steadfast? It isn’t because his supporters are stupid or uneducated. That’s an easy answer, but inaccurate. I have heard from too many Trumpers who are bright and involved. The answer is complex. Black Lives Matter has partially revealed the answer.
Many white Americans are deeply distrustful of the federal government. (Why is a question for another day.) We all find change difficult. But these whites also have fear of “the others,” of immigrants, of non-Christians, of genetic differences, of sexual preferences and, yes, fear of equality. Trump engenders distrust of the media, scientists and the “deep state.” Racism runs so deep in our American character, only now has the scale of this fear among whites become manifest.
Trump speaks to these peoples’ deep, unspoken anxieties that few can admit to. But by cheering on Trump, they don’t have to. Trump does it for them. His supporters admit this when they say, “He says what I feel.” Trump’s other transgressions thereby pale before these existential anxieties. So, Trump is the hero/savior because he alone truly knows what they truly know.
Trump is first and always a reality show host who says “You’re fired” and humiliates the contestant. His White House years have been spent acting the part of a president, not being president, which he doesn’t care about. Trump is preoccupied with playing his role perfectly; whatever sustains his audience’s applause. He craves doing rallies where he performs on a real stage. In truth, Trump is nothing more than a serial masturbator who can’t stop. He will do this until November 3.
Things are going to get crazy between now and January 20, 2021 before they get better.