In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more votes than Donald Trump. When we add in votes cast for third-party candidates and write-ins, the American people rejected Trump by just under eight million votes. Still, he managed to find a narrow path by which he could convert roughly 73,000 votes, spread over three states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan), into a victory in the Electoral College. Donald Trump received 46.1% of the popular vote and since then has marked himself as the only President in American history to never pass the 50% threshold in any national poll.
Trump’s minority-vote status is important for this reason: Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has never once, to my knowledge, attempted to reach out to the 53.9% who did not vote for him. Instead, he immediately embarked on a strategy of holding more of his patented Make Hate Great Again rallies that had characterized his presidential campaign. Instead of reaching out to the African-American community, which continued to reject him by nearly 90%, he stoked racism at every opportunity, as when he attacked the Black Lives Matter social justice movement. His pre-election “Mexican rapists” remark became a shout-out to xenophobes across the country, one of whom killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas because he “wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible.” He consistently referred to Democrats as not only his political foes but also as enemies of the nation, like when he called Democrats who did not clap for him during his 2018 State of the Union address "un-American" and "treasonous." With that history, it’s evident that he never intended to be the President of all of the people in the United States; whatever sense of responsibility he may feel for anyone but himself is set aside solely for those who look like and support him.
This is evidenced by reporting in the Washington Post at the end of July, about Trump’s failed response to the coronavirus: “In the past couple of weeks, senior advisers began presenting Trump with maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among ‘our people’ in Republican states, a senior administration official said. They also shared projections predicting that virus surges could soon hit politically important states in the Midwest—including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the official said. This new approach seemed to resonate, as [Trump] hewed closely to pre-scripted remarks in a trio of coronavirus briefings last week.”
It took an advisor telling Donald Trump that the coronavirus pandemic was harming “our people,” meaning Trump supporters, before he would pretend to take seriously his responsibility to protect all of the people.
This partisan approach to governing had a particularly harmful effect when Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was tapped to head a team tasked with developing a national coronavirus testing program. The dark nature of Mr. Kushner’s priorities are spotlighted in a recent Vanity Fair article: “…the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force. Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. ‘The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,’ said the expert.”
In the end, no national testing plan was put forward because Kushner was more concerned about Trump’s chances for re-election than he was for the health and safety—the lives—of our fellow citizens.
These two examples bring us back to the 18th-century anachronism written into our Constitution that deposited Donald Trump into the White House: the Electoral College.
Generally uninformed as he is, it’s entirely possible Trump had no idea how the Electoral College worked until it granted him, the loser of the popular vote, the 2016 electoral win. Suddenly, he was keenly aware of the concept of red and blue states. He still is, as evidenced by his constant divisive use of those terms in regard to his supposed focus on Law and Order. To our President, civil unrest only exists in blue cities and states and is caused by their Democrat governance. It’s the same mindset that caused Kushner to be ready to let deaths due to Covid-19 pile up in blue states as a campaign gift to his father-in-law; after all, those Americans are not their people.
With just 46.1% of the vote, Donald Trump started out as a minority-vote President, and his approval numbers have seldom risen above that level. At the same time, the floor of his support seems to be around 35%.
That 35% is his hardcore base, made up of those who would never turn against him no matter how odious a President or a person he proved to be. They’re the ones who crammed themselves into his rallies to chant golden hate-filled oldies such as LOCK HER UP! Trump draws out the worst in them, then feeds off the raw energy of their fear, their anger, and their hatred in a downward spiral, a dark feedback loop that promises a quick emotional high which quickly fades, leaving the addict craving the next, more powerful hit. And Trump is more than happy to oblige: At his June Tulsa Rally, Trump spoke more than 1½ hours, conjuring images of women being raped by big, bad Mexicans; of innocent Americans being brutally attacked and dismembered; of cannibalism and infanticide, titillating his audience with his grotesque fantasies, then ratcheting up their indignation and thirst for revenge—against immigrants and Democrats.
Donald Trump is a 35% President, and that is all he’s capable of being. He has expressed that in every way possible for the last 3½ years. It’s time to believe him. He looks at the nation and sees either red or blue states, incapable of understanding that there are Republicans living in California and New York just as there are Democrats living in Texas and Mississippi. To our President, we should all be Americans; to Trump, there are our people—and everyone else.
As a 35% President, the numbers are against Trump. That everyone else—those of us who have never found a reason to support him, but rather are informed by every observation, insight, and intuition we have to oppose him—we are the majority. We always have been. And after watching Trump in action for the last 3+ years, our numbers have only grown. What we have to prove this November is that we have become a supermajority. We must not only sweep Donald Trump from the White House. We must also remove as many of his Republican enablers as possible, the ones (like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Ron Johnson) whose toadiness made a 35% President feel as if he had a mandate and could act accordingly.
In 2016, Trump found a narrow path to electoral victory. In 2020 we must become a blue flood to show this 35% President what should have been clear to him the last time: The people of the United States rejected him in 2016 and will continue to do so because of who and what he is—a petty, vindictive, immature man who is morally, intellectually, and emotionally unfit for office.
Donald Trump has made it clear he doesn’t want to be President of all of the people of the United States. This November we can do him, and us, a favor by relieving him of that burden.
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