To remove Trump, Democrats must speak to those operating outside a rational framework

President Trump Approval Rating,

Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll,  Oct. 14, 2019:

Approve 49%
Disapprove 50%

In three years, the Democrats have not succeeded in breaking through to likely voters who support Donald Trump, as the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll reveals. This is the only poll that tracks “likely voters” — not “adults” or “registered voters”.  As such, it is the poll we should all be following.

With all of the corruption and “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” committed by Trump in the public record, from the transcript of the conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the 10 examples of Obstruction of Justice set forth in the Mueller Report, citing cogent evidence, Trump’s approval rating among “likely voters” has hardly changed.

Trump has succeeded with modern propaganda techniques in destroying belief in the concept of Truth among half the voting electorate, and in confusing issues so that the salience of his crimes is lost among the noise and distractions created by his endless lies and crimes and vulgarities—and, increasingly, his  veiled or not so veiled threats of or calls to violence—to such an extent that his support remains largely intact.

Democrats have failed to dent Trump’s support among a large portion of the voting public.

They should ask themselves why they have failed.

To date, there  is little evidence that such self-examination has occurred, or has borne fruit.

Trump has succeeded in creating a cult following, in much the same manner as did the leader of Germany in the 1930’s, and other authoritarian leaders who mastered the techniques of mass psychology and mass emotions.

The Democrats have argued to and largely convinced the half of the voting population that listens to and can understand logical or rational argument based on facts.

Trump’s supporters include the 30-40% who aren’t interested in and/or don’t want to hear rational arguments which are critical of Trump. Some could understand such arguments if they tried, and perhaps do from time to time, but even they are not interested because they are happy with his policies—the appointment of ideologically conservative judges, harsh anti-immigration policies, and large tax cuts for the wealthy which benefit them directly, for example, or simply content with the good economic news from a continuing expansion.

Trump’s supporters are either happy to participate in the tribal politics of what has become a personal cult, or happy to look away from the crimes and outrages of the president in the belief they are getting policies they want, and the president’s outrages will not in the end have an effect on them personally.

Civility, Truth, Who cares?  Political accountability be damned!  Participating in the group actions of a cult can be fun.

Democrats are courting failure if they believe more evidence of crimes and wrongdoing will move enough Trump supporters to make possible his removal from office, whether through a Senate impeachment trial, or through the 2020 election.

The only way they can win is if they devise a strategy that will get through to the half of the electorate that currently supports Trump.

How can that be done?

Democrats need to think in terms of reaching that portion of the voting population that is not operating within a rational paradigm or framework.

They need to build a powerful narrative built around themes and values that might resonate even with the broad masses of the population who are operating outside a rational framework.

Decency.

Betrayal.

Of the Constitution.

Of the Rule of Law.

Of the country and its national security interests.

Of those who have fought in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and even of those who have served in Syria.

Truth. Morality. Decency.

The Democrats need to craft simple, powerful messages, and then repeat them until every voter, even those operating outside the framework of reason and facts, gets the message.

In many respects, Trump supporters are like the Germans in the 1930’s who looked the other way when atrocities were committed, and who believed that none of that would affect them personally. Yet they were affected.

Trump supporters will likewise be affected.

Today, they need look no further than Syria and the betrayal of America’s Kurdish allies, the surrender of the latter’s territory to Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, and Iran, and the creation of  conditions for the re-emergence of the Islamic State organization, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.

Democrats need to examine why they have failed to persuade the non-rational voters who support Trump, and deploy a narrative based on facts that might gain their attention and support.

They should avoid the trap of just focusing narrowly on the Ukraine, which could be old news by the time it reaches the Senate, and easily dismissed by the Republicans as wrong but not sufficient cause for removal of the president.

There is also the matter of the historical record.  If Tump were impeached only for the Ukraine, would that mean his other actions were OK?

Democrats need to boil down Trump’s many crimes, lies, and vulgarities to a simple narrative, one that likely voters can understand. A simple yet powerful story of corruption and abuse of power.  They need talented writers to help put it together.

Only in this manner will they have a chance to remove Trump.

They need to stop talking exclusively to themselves, to other Trump critics, and start addressing those who have not been listening, enthralled as they have been with the siren music of the Trump delusion.

See also, “Lost in the weeds, Trump critics fail to counter Trump propaganda,” The Trenchant Observer, June 2, 2018.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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