New Boston Post | November 11, 2016, 9:12 EST
On February 26, 2016, I wrote a public cautionary note to my liberal friends, warning them to to take Donald Trump seriously and predicting that, if nominated, Trump would beat Hillary Clinton in November. Below is that column.
To my liberal friends:
For months you have goaded me about Donald Trump. You have snickered about the chaos in my party. You have said that you can’t wait for Hillary to take on Trump in the general election. Those of you who are unenrolled voters have even intimated that, in states that allow you to choose any ballot, you would vote Republican and for Trump in order to embarrass the GOP. But I am here to warn you: Be careful what you wish for — because if Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination in July, the Democrats will go down in defeat in November.
I did not always see things this way. Last summer I also thought Trump’s campaign was a joke. I did not think that voters would nominate a reality TV star or that a casino owner would have have a serious chance at the presidency. But Donald Trump has proven me wrong.
I say this not simply because of his track record in the Republican contests held thus far. I say this because, everywhere I go, I have encountered Trump supporters and an enthusiasm for Trump that I have never before seen in a political contest.
Most of the Trump supporters I have met are not typical Republican Party activists: they are not “country-club” establishment voters and most are not “movement conservatives.” The Trump supporters I have met are waitresses, nurses, small town lawyers, medical practice managers, cab drivers, hockey coaches, and barbers. Some are basically conservative, but may are fairly liberal. Most are not ideological at all, and many are not enrolled in either major political party. What they have in common is that they do not like professional politicians, and they believe only an outsider can fix what is broken.
They support Trump primarily for two reasons:
1. He “tells it like it is”; and
2. They believe that he is beholden to no one
These are not partisan issues. And, like it or not, your presumptive candidate (Hillary Clinton) has a problem on both fronts.
“Don’t worry,” you say, “in a general election, Democrats have the minority and female vote locked up.”
But do they?
Hillary’s had a hard time winning over younger, single women even within her own party. And in a general election, married women trend Republican anyway.
As for the African American vote, let’s just say this: Illegal immigration is never in the interest of a population whose unemployment rate far exceeds the national average.
Rep. Barbara Jordan understood this better than anyone. Jordan, a civil rights icon and Chairman of the US Commission on Immigration in the 1990s, famously railed against the threat of cheap illegal labor to the job prospects of minority workers. Without Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, some black voters may very well vote for Trump over what for them are basic bread and butter issues — jobs and immigration.
“Oh,” you laugh, “Latinos will be the Democratic fire wall. They won’t vote for a man who refers to Mexicans as ‘rapists’ and who wants to round up illegals and kick them out.”
Trump won the Latino vote in Nevada. If nominated, he will do better than expected with Latinos in the general. That is because Latinos who are eligible to vote are legal immigrants, or the children and grandchildren thereof (this is especially true of the Puerto Ricans, who are born citizens and are, by definition, all legal.) And although some of these voters do not appreciate Trump’s rhetoric, anger at the political system — and, yes, even about about illegal immigration — is as strong in some segments of the Latino community as it is in any other.
You may be shocked to learn that last night, after the GOP debate in Texas, pollster Frank Luntz interviewed a group of Texas Republican voters in the border town of El Paso – most of them Mexican immigrants. In a show of hands, the vast majority said they are not at all offended by Trump’s rhetoric. When asked why, one young Latino voter said simply, “because people shouldn’t come here illegally.”
How many blacks and Hispanics will rally to Trump’s siren song is, of course, unclear, but the anecdotal evidence suggests that Democrats should be concerned — because a GOP candidate that shaves off even a sliver of these voting blocks can strike a stake through the heart of Democratic ambitions.
Who is to blame? In may ways, you are, my liberal friends.
By fostering a culture of political correctness — a culture in which complaints of micro-aggressions and demands for “trigger warnings” are commonplace, a culture in which anyone who opposes illegal immigration is branded a racist, a culture in which anyone who comments on a woman’s appearance is called sexist — you have ignited a backlash you never saw coming.
It is a backlash that was inflamed by the media’s incessant Trump coverage. All summer long, they hung on his every word and covered his every vulgarity. And each time they did so, he grew stronger. Why? Because people are sick and tired of being told what to say and what to think, and they are tired of having their motives questioned every time they say something remotely controversial or off-color.
Like you, the media never thought it would go this far. They never dreamed he’d be a serious threat to Hillary Clinton. Why? Because they, like you, live in a bubble. Most of you, I’d bet, have never met a Trump supporter.
For decades, conservatives have delighted in telling the apocryphal story of Pauline Kael, liberal film critic for the New Yorker, who after Nixon’s crushing victory over McGovern in 1972 reportedly quipped that Nixon couldn’t possibly have won the election, as she didn’t know a single person who had voted for him.
Like Pauline Kael, you know not a single person who is voting for Trump. And yet, on Election Day 2016, you (and the rest of the American intelligentsia) may just find yourselves in Pauline Kael’s shoes.
This is your wake up call. You have been warned.