About four years ago, with Hillary Clinton riding a wave of popularity both in the USA and around the world, Trump seemed all but a lost cause and one whose election loss was a foregone conclusion. However, yours truly begged to differ at that point in time, very clearly in fact, through previous Aurora articles The Trump Factor, How the US Tired of Politics Bigly and Hillary Clinton’s Branding Dilemma.
(Cue the hate mail).
Yet, I was proven right come election time. Trump’s PR skills proved superior and turned the momentum against Hillary by hook or by crook. Guess what: this is about to happen again!
So, what do we have this time? VP Joe Biden. Can you recall the last time you saw him speak, or heard any memorable quotes from him? Any clear recall of his plans about the USA? Any history or achievements as VP in terms of foreign policy? Your answer is likely a resounding no - there lies the problem.
Trump may be a rambling idiot. He may be a self-absorbed racist bigot. He may have zero competence. He may have let 210,000 people die of Covid-19 under his watch. None of that matters. He is everywhere - in the news, on TV, in the headlines. People who love him talk about him all the time. People who don’t, talk about him in their sleep.
His messaging, through his antics, campaign ads and statements, is simple and clear: I am not political. I run by instinct. I don’t care about what I say or who I offend. For me, the epitome of success is myself. Everything I do is ‘great’, ‘amazing’ or ‘huge’. Anyone who disagrees with me is crooked, sleepy, mean, or nasty. 210,000 Covid deaths is a GREAT death toll, because it could have been worse, even though Covid affects nobody.
Does the above make any sense to you? No? Well, it is spot on for his support base. We have this silent rule of somehow calling politicians all sorts of names and yet canonizing their voters as paragons of reason and objectivity. And in our quest for political correctness, we ignore reality: birds of a feather flock together. If an incompetent, self important bigot is in power, he is there because millions of self-important bigots voted for him.
Imagine a Trump voter. They would HAVE to be at least a bit racist, misogynistic, very conservative, advocates of ‘might is right’, and believers in protectionism and xenophobia to be able to vote for him. And this is exactly what his voters are. They LOVE it when he speaks over his opponents in a debate. They love him even more when he refuses to accept responsibility for his acts. Hillary received a lot of flak for branding them as a “basket of deplorables” in her campaign. And Socrates had to drink a vat of poison!
The more abominable Trump becomes, the lower his lucidity and competence, the more absurd his statements, his supporters’ loyalties grow that much deeper.
What About Biden?
Biden is white, straight, and male. While those three attributes are JUST the ticket for Trump’s followers, they are precisely the qualities that are, these days, scoffed upon by leftists and liberals. These qualities play in stark contrast to the USA’s current racial tensions, and Biden must work doubly hard, bend over backwards in fact, to prove that he is inclusive and believes in equality and equity. While his efforts to be inclusive will be secretly dismissed as a ‘white person trying too hard’, any act that can be branded as against that spirit, whether it was meant to or not, will instantly disconnect an already volatile voter base and keep them in their homes come election day.
After all, didn’t Hillary suffer for being a rich, experienced, white politician? And now we have Kamala Harris, who has, to be honest, far less glorious credentials than Hillary, and yet she is being hailed as a saviour partly thanks to the colour of her skin. Don’t believe me? Just have a look at the media treatment of the two women.
Biden is a weak candidate. He is older than Trump, visibly less energetic, and his signature campaign promise seems to be “business as usual”. He has merit, dignity and a sensibility about him, but will a teeming mass of closeted misogynists and white supremacists have any use for those values? You do the math.
So, What Will Happen?
Trump’s brand gets stronger the more he errs.
There is really no way one can sway his voter base. The impeachment proceedings added to his persona of a goofy outsider who was being penalized for being unconventional. Trump’s tweets, rambling nonsense as they may appear to some, reinforce his core branding message. Yes, his antics have horrified sensible, reasonable heads every single day. He is not interested in reason. His outreach is to the scores of essentially white, conservative voters in the American Midwest and South who share his attributes and see him as the guardian of the way of life they are accustomed to.
But wait a minute - aren’t all the surveys indicating that Biden has a commanding lead? May I request you to take a look at the surveys during late 2016? Every last one of them forecasts a resounding victory for Clinton. It turns out that many Trump voters do not answer surveys at all, and if they do, many pretend to be against him. Similarly, over to the other side, many democrat voters pretend to be far more enthusiastic about their candidate than they are. Last time around, many of them simply didn’t turn up. The truth doesn’t reside in the surveys - it will emerge from the ballot boxes.
Talha bin Hamid is an accountant by day and an opinionated observer of pop culture, an avid reader, a gamer and an all-around nerd by night. email@example.com.