For some politicians, a short audio tape of an off color remark will do it. For others, perhaps the revelation of an affair or out-of-wedlock child. For yet others, perhaps the disclosure of the use of prostitutes might be the trick. Or perhaps it will be the discovery of being a slum landlord, or the the use of off-shore tax dodges, or the acceptance of political gifts, or the solicitation of donations from fringe radical groups. Some moral outrages loom large, like sex with an intern or the bugging of the Democratic Party national headquarters. Other mistakes work like the dripping of a leaky water faucet, such as a childhood peccadillo, falling asleep during cabinet meetings, or a long ago first marriage that had ended in a bitter divorce, no less effective in bringing down the house as a big explosive expose. But for a rare few, national politicians have been vulnerable to the well publicized moral outrage. That is, until Donald Trump.
Domestic journalists and news outlets, Democratic Party hacks, special interest groups, attention seeking profiteers, lawyers, and political donors have all sought the one moral outrage that will take down Donald Trump. And all have failed. They failed during the presidential election, and they have failed subsequent to Trump’s swearing in.
This isn’t because there haven’t been any juicy moral outrages to leverage. In fact there have been a plethora of them, any one of which that would have ably brought down the toughest and most popular of politicians. There has been the catering to anti-semitic minority-hating neo-nazi and similar fringe groups. There has been the alleged flirtation with treason–consorting with Russian operatives (willingly or unwillingly) in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. There has misogyny and infidelity galore–a history of groping women, the making of sexist or insulting comments, or paying them off after brief affairs. There is the prospect of conflicts of interest regarding a large business empire. There has been the suggestion of rampant influence peddling. There has been an endless stream of misdoings by administration staffers and appointees. And there has been word gaffe after gaffe, whether on Twitter, during press conferences, or via press secretaries. And so on and so on. Each week seems to bring on a new outrage–the latest being separation of children from parents who are caught illegally crossing the US border.
The problem is that the usual tropes do not apply to Trump. Making snide comments in the press and on the air about what a misogynist the president is, or how he is a moron, or how bigoted he is, or how hypocritical, or how tongue-tied, or how duplicitous do not work. One can sense the constant outrage by pundits and White House press pool; one can sense the apoplexy. All shout in frustration and seethe that even with low approval ratings, Trump seems immune. Can it be that the majority of Americans are like Trump? Can it be that there are that many knuckle-dragging cave people out there that refuse to see the collective wisdom of the media and leftist intelligentsia?
Not exactly. Rather it is the media and leftist, and to be honest–many of the rightist, intelligentsia that are missing the point. The point is, as long as politicians or pundits ignore the central concerns of the voters, Trump is going to beat them. Like, who is going to do something about the fact that real wages haven’t grown in twenty years? Who is going to do something about the loss of well-paying jobs overseas? Who is going to do something about the law breaking by illegal immigrants? Who is going to do something about the inexorable increasing of taxes by states? Who is going to do something about the theft of hard-earned US intellectual property? Who is going to do something about unequal barriers to US goods by other countries? Who is going to do something about terrorism, domestic and foreign? Who is going to promote domestic scientific interests both on the ground and in space? Who is going to promote human interests over that of ecological interests? And there are many more.
The first politician that can tackle these issues is going to beat Trump–as long as they can get by the fringe elements of their party. Like Obama before him, Trump–in spite of being a moderate–operates politically in his party’s fringe, making him somewhat immune to primary politics.
Yes, Trump should be a one-term president base on the usual metrics. But the usual metrics do not apply. Unless Special Counsel Mueller is going to jump out of the shadows with the revelation of wrong-doing, spurring an impeachment, or unless either the Democratic or Republican parties put forth a viable political alternative that addresses the central concerns of voters, we’re going to be talking about Trump until 2024.