Forget about Hunter Biden. Forget about Obamagate. Those dogs ain’t hunting. A majority of Americans could care less about either issue. And those that do have likely already made up their minds regarding who they’re going to vote for. The fact is there just aren’t that many undecided voters left in this country. Trump knows it and so does his campaign.
Clearly, Team Trump needed another strategy. Four months of putzing around while the worst pandemic in over a century devastated the country has taken away the one thing this president was counting on this Fall: a strong economy. Even if there is a recovery in the third quarter, it will likely not be strong enough to avoid double-digit unemployment. And like any incumbent, Trump will get the blame.
Enter Plan B. The murder of George Floyd by a cop in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week, and the ensuing protests that have broken out in many parts of the country, have given Trump the excuse he’s been looking for to engage his inner Nixon. For the few who don’t remember, in 1968, Richard Nixon ran as the “law and order” candidate, employing what came to be known as the Southern Strategy. In short, Nixon scared the shit out of white America with images of the riots that were going on in black America, and cruised to an easy election. Trump is obviously hoping for history to repeat itself.
Unfortunately for Trump, history isn’t likely to comply with his wishes. For starters, Nixon wasn’t nearly as unpopular back then as Trump is now. As hard is it might be for some to imagine, before the specter of Watergate destroyed his reputation, a majority of Americans held a very high opinion of him. His reelection in ’72 ranks as one of the most lopsided in presidential history. He actually got a larger percentage of the popular vote than Ronald Reagan did in ’84, if you can believe it.
Secondly, Nixon was the challenger not the incumbent. He was running against Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Jonson’s vice president. Being an outsider afforded Nixon the freedom to criticize the Johnson Administration’s response to the riots that were taking place in the cities. It was an advantage Trump does not enjoy. The truth is everything that is going on in this nation – the riots, the pandemic, the cratering economy – are all happening on Trump’s watch.
And last, but not least, the demographics of the country have changed over the last fifty-two years. African Americans comprise a larger percentage of the overall population today than they did in 1968. Moreover, the country itself has moved to the left. Just saying you’re the “law and order” president doesn’t carry the weight it might have back in the days of Nixon. The advent of social media has allowed millions of people to see the violence being perpetrated against African Americans on an almost daily basis. Yes, it may anger some people to see stores looted, but many more people have seen with their own eyes that the vast majority of the protesters are peaceful and non-violent. Trump can call them thugs all he wants, but most Americans know better.
So why is he going full Rambo and threatening to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act? Why did he order tear gas to be used to clear Lafayette Park of protestors who were behaving themselves just so he could have a photo op in front of a church holding a Bible that he probably has never read? None of this has anything to do with restoring the law and order he claims to love so much. That Trump could even utter the words “law and order” without bursting into flames is remarkable, given that he has shown nothing but contempt for the rule of law throughout his wretched life.
There’s only one explanation for these actions. He’s practicing for October when the real power grab will happen. Let’s get real, here. Trump knows he’s losing. With the exception of a couple of times during his tenure as president, he’s polled consistently in the low to mid 40s according to RCP. No incumbent has ever been reelected with those numbers. There’s only one thing that could keep Joe Biden out of the White House next year: a catastrophic event that would lead to millions of people being unable to vote. And that event would be the declaring of martial law throughout the United States.
Don’t think for a moment Trump wouldn’t try it. You and I both know he would. In fact, I hate it when people say he can’t do this or he can’t do that. I wish they would stop it; it only seems to encourage him. Trump is like that kid in the Twilight Zone episode that forces all the adults to watch his favorite TV shows, and anybody who objects gets punished.
The prospect of Trump declaring martial law was first floated back in early April when it looked like the Coronavirus was going to overwhelm the states. Hospital emergency rooms were filled to capacity and the health care system was on the brink of collapse in cities like New York. The threat quickly subsided once the shelter at home orders began to take effect and the rate of infection slowed.
But Trump, never one to pass up an opportunity, has been told by his medical experts that a second wave of the infection is likely to occur this Fall, just as voters are preparing to cast their ballots. As you may recall, the second wave of the 1918 influenza hit in October and it killed two hundred thousand people. If history repeats itself, Trump may decide the “risk” to the population is too great and send in troops to “guard” the polling stations. Yes, millions of people will have already voted by mail by then, but millions more in the inner cities may be intimidated by the show of force and choose to stay home. And that’ll be all she wrote.
Even if Trump elects not to declare martial law, just the mere threat of him doing it could mean the difference in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Remember, he only has to win one of those states to hold onto the presidency. Brilliant, if diabolical. Had Trump been a member of Tony Soprano’s gang, he would’ve had Tony whacked by the third episode of season one.
We literally have five months to go before D day for the Republic arrives. Be afraid, people. Be VERY afraid.