There have now been five congressional special elections, which the Democrats intended to use to test the popularity of the president. The strategy and that of the media was to throw as much mud at Trump as possible and hope it would rub off on Republican candidates. Trump is at times claimed to be a puppet of Moscow, a person under investigation for illegal activities and someone in imminent danger of impeachment. They can’t help but think back to their glory days of Richard Nixon. When the opposition has all that working for it, they believe there should be no need to advance an agenda that the voters can embrace. The results of the special elections demonstrate the fallacy of the strategy. The latest election gave the Republican, Karen Handel a decisive victory in spite of liberals spending more than $20 million on their candidate.
How does Trump, an unlikely president, manage to survive the onslaught?
- First, he is so verbally abused by the Democrats and the media that he actually becomes a sympathetic figure. Even though Trump conducts himself in an unconventional manner, he is given the benefit of the doubt because the attacks are often over-the-top and laughable. He happens to also be the president whose office usually demands a bit of respect. Public mock executions of a sitting president do not play well in the heartland. Americans love an underdog. We all root for the underdog and Trump is the David against the establishment Goliath. The armies of the media, Hollywood, academia and establishment Washington are all amassed against Trump and his Twitter account. When tiny Israel beat back the Arab armies surrounding the outnumbered and out-gunned Jewish state, they became the Goliath and lost the public support that they enjoyed since their founding in 1948.
- Second, the conspiracy theories used to attack the president are all consuming inside the Beltway but not so much elsewhere. Jobs, security and the image of the U.S. have more importance outside of DC than the possibility that someone in the administration may have talked to a Russian. Besides, the evil of such conversations is not very clear when one considers the fact that prior administrations have often made such conversations a cornerstone of their foreign policy.
- Third, what proposals do the opposition suggest? Is there an agenda that contrasts with the Trump agenda that is seen as good for America? So far, no! The only agenda is to expose conversations with Russians.
- Fourth, with the entire focus by the media on Russia, the administration is moving ahead on many fronts with hardly any opposition. This works in the administration’s favor since they have almost a free hand, at least to undo all the damaging regulations put in place over the last eight years.
- Fifth, although progress on the big-ticket items on Trump’s agenda has been slowed, it doesn’t help the opposition to be able to claim “we’ve stopped Trump from fixing a broken health care system, we’ve allowed wasteful spending to continue, we’ve stopped people from keeping more of their income through high taxes.” These are not winning positions for the Democrats.
If the attacks continue through the mid-term election campaigns, the likelihood of the Republicans picking up seats is increased.