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Trump is doing Democrats’ work for us



Still on the road. I’ll be on the way back to Portland as you read this, after a family-filled weekend in West Seattle, where the weather was simply gorgeous.

I have a cousin—I’ll call him Billy—with whom I grew up. We’re not that close anymore because he lives on the opposite coast, but such are the ties that bind that I will forever feel a great, warm love for him, and he for me. Our politics has clashed in the past. He’s more or less a Republican. He saw combat in Vietnam, was spat on when he came home, and that shaped his political and cultural views to this day. He was at this family event, and naturally the topic of Trump came up. We avoided—thankfully–an argument, but there was something Billy said that really caught my attention.

He now readily admits to a loathing of Trump. In this own words, Trump is a “disgusting, horrible person.” When he said that, I heartily approved. Billy didn’t always feel that way. He used to think Trump was pretty cool. He still supports many of Trump’s positions, but Trump himself—the liar, the bully, the fool, the megalomaniac, the vulgar pig, the wannabe dictator—has finally alienated even a solid Republican like my cousin. I would imagine that there are millions of Billys in this country, and if they turn against Trump and the Republican Party in the Fall election–as I expect they will–there will be a blue wave.

We went for a walk on the beach on Puget Sound (Gus came with us) and Billy explained some of the reasons for his Republicanism. He’s socially liberal, in the sense of supporting the rights of Gay people. He’s in favor of a woman’s right to choose. What turned him against Democrats (both of his parents were ardent Democrats) were two things: taxes and Black people. In Billy’s view, taxes are too high, and he resents the government taking his hard-earned money. He understands that there are pressing reasons for government to tax us: the military, of course (which he reveres), but also roads, bridges, and so on. He realizes that the environment is a governmental responsibility. But he thinks taxes are too high, and who am I to argue with him? I do, too. I just don’t feel as strongly about taxes as Billy does, and besides, every time Republicans cut taxes it mainly benefits the rich. Billy is not rich. He sees this pro-billlionaire bias on the part of Republicans, and it embarrasses him, but he’s just generally against taxes, and the Republicans have messaged that issue very well.

As for Black people in America, Billy is pretty fed up with them. The way he sees it, Black people disrespect the things he, Billy, respects: the military, cops, law and order. I don’t think Billy has ever broken a law in his life. Maybe he’s exceeded the speed limit, but nothing serious. He sees the crime that is rampant in the Black community and doesn’t understand why Black people don’t obey the law. He sees the street demonstrations whenever a Black man or woman is shot by a cop, but (he says) he never sees Black people demonstrating against Black people who shoot other Black people. Besides, Billy adds, most of the time (as far as Billy can tell), when a cop shoots a Black person, it’s because the latter is trying to resist arrest. Billy can’t fathom the notion of resisting arrest. If he was told to stop, lie down, put his hands up, he would instantly obey. In Billy’s opinion, when someone resists arrest, they’re asking for trouble.

I write about Billy not because I agree with everything he says, but because he’s so emblematic of Republican voters. He’s a very decent man, a father, a grandfather, a volunteer in many causes in his neighborhood, a believer in God. In many ways he’s that “salt of the earth” that made America great. I don’t believe he’s prejudiced against Black people per se; he just wants people to obey the law, to make a living for themselves without depending on government programs, and to not have children they can’t raise correctly. These are not outrageous positions.

I think what Billy fails to understand is that Democrats want the same things. Sadly, the Democratic Party had not done a very good job convincing Billy of this. When you hear Obama talk, he’s essentially saying the things Billy believes in: hard work, family values, respect for the law. Same with Hillary Clinton. Neither Obama nor Clinton is some kind of fiery radical. They were and are rather traditional middle-of-the-road politicians. But Billy’s interpretation of what they said was twisted, or smudged, so that what he heard them say (as opposed to what they really said) was “Let’s raise taxes on hard-working Americans and give free money to non-working Black people.” That is not what the Democratic Party stands for. Granted there are extremes on the Left that call for something along those lines, but they are not the core of the Democratic Party. Yet the Republican attack machine, led by Fox “News” and Rush Limbaugh, has successfully persuaded people like Billy that the Democratic Party is pretty much Maoist in nature—something to be feared.

We Democrats have tried for years to figure out how to get to voters like Billy and convince them Democrats are not monsters, that we’re the party of the working middle classes. We have failed in that attempt. The funny thing—the ironic thing is that Donald Trump seems to be doing our work for us. Middle Americans are returning to the Democratic fold not because we have lured them back with clever promises, but because Trump has sickened them. They’re leaving the Republican Party in droves because they can’t abide by Donald Trump leading this country. This is why, after the November elections, we may be able to say, “Thank you, President Trump, for driving voters away from your own party.”

By the way—lots of news lately about these “Q” people, right? My take: clearly, they’re psychopaths, and ignorant as bricks. I don’t think there are as many of them as the media suggests, and I don’t think they constitute a threat. I could be wrong. We may have to deal with them—but it’s nothing to worry about today.

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