All men are created equal. Some are just more equal than others. Old Joke
Most pundits are fond of saying that the 2020 election will be a “base” election. Then again, most pundits, including me, have our heads so far up our asses that we can see our lungs. Reference how many times we’ve all predicted Trump’s certain demise for some stupid thing he’s said or done. But when you come right down to it, every election is a “base” election, who can turn out their base supporters, and hopefully snag a share of the ever dwindling pool of true “independent” or “undecided” voters out there. And 2020 will be no different.
But as we all know, raw numbers are not always dispositive. Hillary Clinton garnered almost three million more votes that His Lowness, and yet The Great Pumpkin still occupies the White House, due to the vagaries of an antiquated electoral college system. It’s not always a matter of how many you turn out in electoral politics as where you turn them out.
Every time I mention the contention that race is an issue that may not work out well for Trump and the GOP in 2020, I am respectfully reminded in the comments that the use of race is nothing new for the Republicans, in fact, they’ve been thriving on it for more than 40 years. And I have repeatedly agreed with that. But as I remind people, the systemic racism that the GOP has successfully exploited for nearly a half a century comes with a thin veneer of respectability and whitewash to it. Nixon spoke of “law and order,” and Reagan of “welfare queens.” But here’s something else for the race nay sayers to chew on, and it’s something more dispositive.
Simple question. If Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric and actions against “shithole countries,” and crumbling, mostly minority large cities, and Mexican drug runners, murderers and rapists are such a 100%, guaranteed winner for the GOP in 2020, hell, even in 2018, then why aren’t more mainstream Republicans in the House and Senate rallying behind Trump with those statements? They aren’t parroting Trump. In fact, they’re fleeing from him, for one simple reason. Because that shit only works for Trump, and with his base. For everybody else out there in GOPland, it’s pure, undiluted poison, and they know it.
Race is going to be an issue in this election for one reason, and one reason only. Because Donald Trump made it one. And he’s going to keep right on doing it, to try to keep his base motivated, and the hell with everybody else on the GOP side. But properly used, it can also rev up the Democratic minority base. There’s a damn good reason why Republicans like to claim that Democrats are “playing the race card” all of the time. Because every time the Democrats bring it up, the GOP has just done or said something stupidly racist that they can’t afford to get caught at.
A simple reminder. In 2016, Donald Trump won the electoral college by a combined 77,000 votes spread over three states, WI, MI, and PA. A statistical comparison shows that if Hillary Clinton had motivated African American voters in Milwaukee the way that Barack Obama did in 2012, she would have blown Trump out in WI. The same thing with Detroit and Philadelphia. We wouldn’t have kids in cages, a trade war with China, and the unfettered destruction of the existing structure of the United States government. And that’s just those three states, that’s not even calculating things like minority turnout in places like Ohio and North Carolina.
And it’s not only confined to African American voters either. In 2016, Beto O’Rourke threw enough of a scare into Ted Cruz that he had to stoop to the level of degrading himself at Trump’s feet on stage at a rally in Texas. Texas GOP incumbents are dropping like flies in House races for 2020. Even if an energized, engaged Hispanic population in Texas doesn’t flip it blue in 2020, it sure as hell could flip more U.S. House seats blue, as well as state legislature seats. And don’t even get me started on Arizona and Florida.
I’m not saying that the Democrats should run solely on race nationally in 2020, in fact, far from it. The Democrats still have to speak to and solve kitchen table issues, infrastructure, drug costs, wages, and healthcare. But they can do that by touting their own plans’ benefits, without bashing each other over the head. But Trump is going to continue to inject race into this campaign, if only to keep his poll numbers steady with his base, and the Democrats can use that. It doesn’t have to be front and center, but a reference in each speech about Trump’s latest verbal diarrhea on race, with a strong condemnation of such talk, will remind voters that along with everything else, this election is a referendum on what kind of a country we aspire to be. And the more that the Democrats needle him with it, the more unhinged with it he’ll become. And the entire GOP will suffer for the sins of the Father.
Look, like it or not, the midiclorians of race are going to be swirling around the 2020 election like a halo. And the one who can best master and marshal them will be swinging the largest light saber. And by now we’re all painfully aware of the pathetic size of Darth Trumper’s light saber. Racism can rally not only the Democratic base, but independent and “soft” voters in a way that obstruction of justice and Russian collusion never could. After all, nobody but a MAGA moron wants to be identified as a racist. If Trump is going to hand us that hammer, we’d be fools not to use it.