President Trump is down in the polls. This is correctly seen as a hopeful sign for his removal in November… but only a sign. It’s not the first time his popularity has dropped. His popularity dropped in the Summer of 2016. He was generally disliked after the magnitude of refugee abuses was revealed. His numbers tanked as information was provided regarding his pressuring of Ukraine politicians to publicly investigate a political rival.
He’s always come back.
This is not, as the Republican Left would have people believe, due to any inherent popularity of the man or his messages. It is because the Democrat Left overestimates the popularity of its own messages.
If we want to keep Trump from another surge in the polls, we must not fall into that trap. Trump is down right now because of many factors. His utter ineptitude regarding covid-19 is the most obvious, as is the rampant unemployment associated with it. His dishonesty is hurting him, because his promises regarding covid-19 have been demonstrable lies. His relative weakness – trouble walking, trouble drinking, inability to speak in complete sentences – are also problems for his campaign.
Police abuses are being seen as his ticket to higher polls, not lower. Many Democrats are aiding that narrative.
The fact is that police abuses are wrong, and that message will be broadly and successfully received by nearly every American community. Even those who have utter faith in their own police will be open to the notion that other forces are corrupt, in the same way that people hate Congress while maintaining constant support of their own Representative.
Where the narrative goes off the rails is when racism is brought into play, and there are solid numerical reasons for that. Thousands of allegations of abuse are made against American police officers every year. When “police abuse” is narrowed into “shooting dead an unarmed black man”, the numbers winnow into the low double digits… and they’re shrinking. That provides a perfect opportunity for the Republicans to present a reasonable counter-argument that the issue is overblown, a media creation.
How many unarmed black men were shot dead by police in 2015, the last year of the Obama Presidency? 38, according to a Washington Post investigation. How many were killed in 2019? 15. Meanwhile, 25 unarmed white people were thus killed. More than half of them were shot while attacking police.
Those are hard numbers, and they resonate. They suggest that the problem isn’t as bad as it’s typically presented. Meanwhile, activists regularly speak of the danger of being black in America, as if they are awaiting a policeman to come shoot them at any moment.
Joining your voice to that chorus is a way to boost Trump’s numbers. Yes, it may be entertaining to watch a street get repainted with “Black Lives Matter” in front of a Trump building, but it’s going to help Trump in November.
The broader facts found in the numbers is that police abuses are uncommon but not rare, that they’re not exclusively aimed at blacks, and that they’re not limited to fatal shootings. Fatalities are dramatic and will raise the most concern, but the systemic problem isn’t modern-day lynchings. We have a problem with blacks being automatically suspected of crimes in many areas of the country and another with suspects of all backgrounds being improperly treated. There are actual problems, and if they are addressed honestly they may be resolved. If they addressed dishonestly – worse, if the activists are supported in their efforts to transition the narrative to something they find bothersome, like renaming buildings – they hand an opportunity to Trump.
I believe in denying Trump those opportunities.
Trump is failing on multiple levels. The goal should be to focus on those failures and the dangers they present to the country. His gassing of peaceful protesters and commandeering of church grounds were a prime opportunity to do so, as it was a visual demonstration of trampling on basic rights. That should be an image used to define the protests, as should the old man bleeding from the ear as police carefully avoid helping him or nonlethal projectiles fired at people who are watching from their porch. Abuses, non-fatal, against people of every background. Everyone can understand and empathize with that.
Most of the people reading this are former Republicans who disagree with key points of Democrat policy. This is not a time to abandon critical analysis and a sense of proportion and to join with agenda-driven social activists. Many of them would reluctantly accept a second President Trump term if it meant that all of their demands for social change were met. If we wish to have the President’s poll numbers remain low – if we wish to stifle any bounce he may receive – we need to push back, gently, against the overreactions of the activist groups while respectfully considering the issues they’re presenting.
If you’re among the many who have effectively joined the Democrat party and have been promoting Pelosi and Schumer and various activists on Twitter and Facebook… good. You likely have a measure of trust that you’ve earned from the Democrat community. Try to use it to tweak the narrative in favor of removing Trump. That’s the inherent value of a place like this. It’s a gathering spot for the politically active. Your strength lies in modifying the attitudes of others before the election, not in a single lever pulled in early November.
This is about Black Lives Matter at the moment, but there will be other issues which arise over the next four months. Every time one does, it must be handled in the same way. Keep Trump’s polls low, and give him no chance to recover. It’s only four months – about the same amount of time that Covid-19 has been raising issues in this country. We can do this.