During the 2016 presidential election, one of my colleagues (an ardent Democrat) and I frequently compared notes on the progress of the campaign. He developed a tongue-in-cheek theory that the only way Trump could win was if he were able to plant a mole in Clinton’s campaign to pull enough dirty tricks to undermine her and swing the election to Trump. As the election progressed we began to joke about how the mole was succeeding:
So Hillary called Trump supporters “Deplorables?” The mole told her it would be a great idea to give Trump supporters a good verbal tongue-lashing.
So Hillary didn’t campaign as hard in “battleground states,” such as Michigan, Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania, as hindsight says she should have? The mole told her she didn’t have to since she was going to win those states easily anyway, so why bother?
So Hillary fainted and stumbled in public? The mole either spiked a drink, or added something to her food, or just gave her a surreptitious nudge—not great enough to hurt her, but just enough to throw her off balance and raise questions about whether she was healthy enough for the presidency.
Some have written of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” the tendency of Trump haters to overreact at the very mention of the President’s name. But watching recent events makes me wonder whether there really are Republican-planted moles among “The Resistance” enticing Trump haters to say and do even more extreme things than they might otherwise do on their own.
Last week, for example, I wrote of Diann Rice, the Colorado Civil Rights Commissioner, who said that the assertion of religious liberty, at least by Christians, was a sign of racism and genocidal mania.
Earlier this week, Soledad O’Brien, a former news anchor for (where else?) CNN chastised the CEO of Twitter for noting he had eaten a chicken sandwich bought from Chick-fil-A, and thereby started a hate campaign that had him issue a groveling apology, given that Chick-fil-A’s founder opposed gay marriage, and this month is Gay Pride Month, or some such thing.
Recently “comedienne” Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump the c-word and implied she was in an incestuous relationship with her father. And let’s not forget Robert De Niro at the Tony Awards who, called to the stage to present an award, simply shouted “F— Trump!” several times, to much applause from the Hollywood and Broadway elite.” Both are acting within the tradition of Kathy Griffin, the “comedienne” who brandished an effigy of Donald Trump’s severed head.
Now, why would any Republican welcome these developments, much less want to provoke gay rights activists, entertainers, etc. to say what they’re saying. After all, aren’t assertions that demanding religious freedom or patronizing Christian-owned businesses makes one a racist or a Nazi or a homophobe insulting to President Trump’s supporters among the Christian Right? Aren’t the unhinged ravings of Samantha Bee or Robert De Niro insulting to the President and his family?
Well-yes. But they’re also beneficial to the re-election campaign Trump has already said he’ll wage in 2020. Here’s how.
Elections are not always won by majorities. They’re frequently won by well-organized and passionately organized minorities. Case in point: Hillary got more popular votes than Donald. Donald got the White House.
The antics of Diann Rice, Samantha Bee, Robert De Niro, Kathy Griffin, et al. are so offensive that they’re likely to stir up Trump’s natural base—which has remained remarkably strong and faithful to him anyway—and inspire its members to go to the polls in greater numbers than might otherwise be the case. So Trump’s supporters may not like what’s being said about him or his family or about evangelical Christians, but they should like the most likely result—a strong pro-Trump backlash which will help him win re-election.
Now, I don’t really believe that Republican operatives have penetrated the Resistance to stir up the likes of Rice, O’Brien, Griffin, Bee, or DeNiro, and I certainly don’t think these worthies are themselves secret Republican moles deliberately acting outrageously to drive voters into the voting booth for Trump in 2020. Nonetheless, were I a Democrat committed to Trump’s defeat, the first thing I’d do would be to try to find a way to shut them up. But as a Republican, I say, “Keep it up, folks. Let it all out!”
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.