by Gallagher & Schleicher
Tim Wise, the Louisiana anti-racist advocate who twice helped defeat former Klan leader David Duke for statewide office, has simple advice for turning back the Trump movement: Don’t bring a spreadsheet to a gunfight.
Detailed policy proposals are important, of course, and we’ll need viable plans for addressing the actual challenges facing the country once the chief engineer of manufactured outrage is out of the White House. But the eviction must come first, and calculators are no match for the howitzers Trump and his defenders will deploy to prevent that from happening.
We have some thoughts, of course. First, as Wise advises, the 2020 campaign won’t be a battle of intellectual concepts or even ideological appeals; it will be an emotionally amped clash of morals, and it’s imperative to frame the vote accordingly. Voters must be asked to stand against Trump in his entirety – not just his coarse Tweets but the whole ugly, divisive contempt he holds for anyone who does not give, make or launder money for the Trumps.
Second, and again as Wise stresses, Trump by himself is almost comically absurd as the figurehead of any regime, let alone one running a superpower. But he sits astride a movement that is just now finding its voice when it comes to denigrating racial minorities, women, Muslims, immigrants.
Dog whistles are giving way to foghorns in contests at every level of government. It’s not enough to simply oppose a Trump presidential bid. What many have labelled “Trumpianity” must be challenged in every single race, from dog-catcher to U.S. senator.
Third, it will take a coalition of unlikely bedfellows to get out enough votes to overcome years of voter suppression, gerrymandering and hostile foreign propaganda. Progressives will need to shake hands with Never-Trumpers. Moderates must embrace conscientious conservatives. We can argue about health care, education or climate policy when the dust has settled; for now, there’s only one position on one issue that counts, and that’s seeing Donald off and into permanent retirement at his own expense.
Fourth, the contest must be waged on multiple fronts. Earlier we advocated a formal motion of censure of the president, which is a step in the right direction. Democrats may debate whether and when to formally impeach, but the quest for accountability must be relentless, and every tool in the legal toolbox must be applied to the task of revealing who in the Trump administration knew what, and when, about the deeply troubling conduct surrounding his campaign and administration officials.
Language is important, obviously. We need to avoid Twitter bait and snarky asides. But we must also not shrink from calling out bigotry, ignorance and lies whenever they’re presented, as tedious and time-consuming as this will be.
Fifth and finally, a word to those of you who voted for Trump but nonetheless have read this far. You don’t hate immigrants, you’re not proud to have Trump represent us to the world, you don’t like a president who brags of assaulting women being your kid’s Role-Model-in-Chief, you aren’t so gullible as to fall for the same Facebook manipulations again when trolls label the 2020 Democratic nominee a freedom-hating socialist, and – last but not least – you certainly aren’t a racist. How can we be so certain? Because we know you’re going to prove it to us when you vote other than Trump in 2020. “Fool me once…”
We’re not yet endorsing a specific Democratic challenger, but we do think one qualification outweighs the others: the capacity to show America who this soulless man in the White House truly is and why he must be rejected unequivocally.
Everything else is a detail – and only then when he’s out of office.
This column originally appeared in the Sunday, August 4, 2019 Waco Tribune-Herald, where the Davids are on the Board of Contributors.